Day 58: Australia
Culturally enriching? Not particularly. Really fun? Hell yes. I arrive at Village Idiot, a restaurant/bar in West Hollywood because two different Australians have recommended the Aussie meat pies as being especially good here. I’m not exactly loaded with options for Australia, so when Bosque said he had two friends from work, one of whom is an Australian, who wanted to meet us at the restaurant for lunch, I was in. Originally, I had planned on writing a Halloween post where I ate something a little on the frightening side, but then I realized than Man Bites World already had its Halloween post about a week and a half ago.
On my way to the restaurant I get a phone call from Bosque saying that they’re being held up at work, but luckily, DadBites is joining as well, and when I arrive, he’s already seated and finishing a cappuccino (“They make really good cappuccinos here”). Dad has a meeting in Culver City and can’t afford to wait until everyone arrives, so he orders the steak and potato pie and I get a pint of the very pleasant Old Speckled Hen, a somewhat light and very creamy British beer. His pie arrives with a perfectly golden crust and the not-so-Australian side of a mixed green salad. I take a bite of the delightfully crisp, flaky pie, sinking my teeth all the way through to the big chunks of juicy beef and hearty potatoes, really looking forward to having my own in a little while. Eventually, Bosque, Bruce and Aussie Shea arrive, order beers and start looking over the menu. Bruce happens to know a lot of the staff here, including our waitress, so the afternoon begins to get that extra nudge of comfort and relaxed atmosphere. Let me just say right now that nothing on the menu except for the steak and potato pie is Australian, so prepare yourself for a lot of very un-Aussie things to start appearing on the table. A lovely leek and goat cheese tart arrives, which is actually tart, and served with a light, shaved fennel salad. Bosque cuts it up into share-able pieces and I have more than my fair portion of the crusty delight. DadBites has to leave now, drops some cash down while telling me he hopes to be able to make it for tomorrow’s meal, then heads out the door.
Another round of beers arrive with the food. My steak and potato pie is just as good as I remembered, then I take a bite of Bosque’s Pie of the Day, which includes ground lamb meat, curry, vegetables and a yogurt base. It’s pretty darn tasty, particularly with the tartness of the yogurt, but Aussie Shea and I agree that the big chunks of steak in the original pie make it far superior. Good thing the better one is on the menu every day. Bruce has the bangers and mash, which are fancied up by barbie marks on the sausage, the caramelized onions and the pleasantly rich port sauce poured over the potatoes. Aussie Shea’s friend Allison, who lives close by, now arrives, ordering a hamburger and a beer. Gotta love a Friday lunch on Halloween. The head chef happens to walk in, who is a friend of Bruce’s, and I tell him how much I’m enjoying the meal. He then makes an interesting point, saying that their pie is not particularly authentic, since most the ones in Australia are rubbish. AussieGuy agrees, adding another good humored joke on Aussie cuisine: “Yeah, the ones here are actually tasty.”
Then things start to escalate quickly, as a discussion on whether to order dessert leads to getting a hot chocolate chip cookie with mint ice cream, a crispy, nut encrusted apple tart with whipped cream and five double espressos served with shots of Bailey’s (the mint ice cream and whipped cream are a substitue for the vanilla ice cream, which they happen to be out of). Remember the Ireland post, where I defended the occasional blog-induced heavy drinking by saying it’s cultural? Well, I guess I could argue that they do a good amount of drinking in Australia and that we’re just trying to get in the spirit of things, but that would be a bold faced lie. Sometimes you’re having fun with a great group of people and things just take on a life of their own, which is especially fun when everyone else at the table has to go back to work afterward.
Aussie Shea ducks out, dropping some cash on the table, and a few minutes later we discover that we’ve managed to accomplish a one hundred and eighty-six dollar lunch, which is made even more impressive by the fact that the chef has generously comped our desserts. But we find that AussieGuy and DadBites left a combined and very-over-compensating hundred dollars, so the whole thing now feels like a tremendously unfair bargain. We pay our bill, exchange email addresses as well as hugs, and I begin imagining that we’ve just had a somewhat ritzy version of a traditional Australian lunch. I kinda doubt it though, but would be pretty happy to head down under and try to discover the truth first hand. But good food, good drinks and good people? I’ll take that any day, any time, any country. Cheers, mates.
7383 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Food Breakdown: 1 appetizer, 6 entrees, 2 desserts, 14 alcoholic beverages, 11 shots of espresso
Distance From My House: 6.2 miles