Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Ugly Fish Unmasked

To all you Ay-mairy-cens, Happy Halloween. To myself I say, Happy Belated 2nd Birthday, HRB. It was a bit of an anti-climax.

It started with a hangover.

How unusual, you might say.

It is truly a sad statement of fact. Sen's was closed so I had no alternative. Sunday lunch at Fish 349. Why have I been so reluctant to try this place? Is it the polished concrete floors? Is it the colouring-in pencils? Is it the 'we cater to all tastes' menu? Or could it be the proclamation that "Take Out" is available?

So. Sen's was closed. No duck rolls for me. No wonton soup. Just a hangover and a second choice for lunch. We huffed in through the sliding glass doors and sat ourselves down. Thankfully there were no children screaming about the place. I was in the mood to stab someone with a fork.

My spirits lifted when I spied yummy-sounding stuff on the specials menu. Coconut prawns sounded good. But tempura oysters? Why, why, why? We ordered some oysters, au naturel of course. We had some garlic prawns on skewers and (to be perverse) some "tempura" scallops.

This is becoming a bit of a catch-cry of mine, but the tempura was "not a tempura's arse hole". The oysters were much less than fresh (trust me, I've been hoovering oysters into my face all month). The grilled prawns had that whiteness to them that whispers "I've been frozen for months", and they tasted a bit like garlic infused old bus tickets.

Having a hangover, one tends to scoff what is placed before one. With or without grace. So we scoffed and grumbled through full mouths. I muttered something about "see I told you so" and "could have had duck rolls" and "how dare Sen's be closed". We sat for a while, nattering. The plates sat and listened. They sat and listened so long that I detected a waft of foul prawn guts coming from the leftover tails. The Fish wasn't full; there weren't many people about at all. But still the plates sat.

Fish 349 is the kind of place where you stand at the counter to order and pay on the spot. As classless as I find this practice, at least it meant we could walk out without delay when the smell became overpowering.

Phew. What a stench. But you know what they say … ‘never eat an ugly fish’*.

GW the HRB

* Ellis RM, Jelinek GA. Never eat an ugly fish: three cases of tetrodotoxin poisoning from Western Australia. Emerg Med 1997; 9: 136-142

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Spice Up My Life

Sigiri used to do an authentic curry. A chicken curry consisted of a bowl of curry with a chicken drumstick sticking out. Similarly, a crab curry was a bowl of curry with a crab sticking out. I’m not kidding. Indie’s mother was in the kitchen doing all the cooking; Indie did front of house. The plastic table cloths mattered not a jot because the meals were cheap ($6 for a main) and damn good.

Sadly Sigiri went the way of all good things and invested in a bain marie. Standards dropped and Melbourne is now the worse for it.

So, when I read (admittedly a while ago) GP’s review of The Spice in Sandy Bay my curiosity was somewhat aroused. Allegedly, The Spice would prepare an Indian feast akin to what one might find in an Indian kitchen back home. All one had to do was ask.

Sadly, this wasn’t what we found. My sisters invited me out to The Spice recently in search of a Sigiri-style inspiration. We were very politely informed that the kitchen would prepare our dishes – from the menu – a bit hotter if we liked. That was it. Because, of course, all the dishes on the menu are ‘authentic’.

Well, bugger me.

The service at The Spice was very friendly and welcoming. We were quite happy with the dishes we ate (although they weren’t hot enough after all, but that’s just us being bogans). The ambience was a bit too bright though, dampening the mood.

GP’s review was stuck to the wall inside the front door. Mocking me.