Thursday, February 3, 2011

i try the mean fiddler

Where does one eat in Albany? Actually, let me rephrase that. Where does one eat in Albany when the Wild Duck is all booked out and you really can't be arsed getting all dressed up but you still want a decent meal? The Mean Fiddler.

A good critic would've asked where the name came from. But, I was distracted by the crayons. Yes, you read that correctly. The crayons! On top of the crisp white linen table cloths are large sheets of disposable white paper. And nestled alongside the salt and pepper on every table is a glass of crayons just ready for the scribbling. Get excited!

I'm sure this is something intended to amuse the children but what a wonderful way to indulge your inner artist or fill awkward silences. Not that I needed to fill awkward silences. I wasn't on a first date or anything. No, I was dining with the The Boss, Goldilocks and Smalls (oh, I do love a good pseudonym).

Our waitress was friendly and had manage to memorize what was possibly the longest specials board I have ever seen. The Boss chose the black grain fed Angus fillet, topped with a whole marron, served with chips, salad and pepper sauce ($44). Goldilocks and Smalls got the sticky pork belly, served with asian greens and chilli, lime caramel sauce ($34). I opted for the seafood salad with fish, prawns and scallops, cashew nuts and crispy noodle salad and sticky soy ($22.50 for entree size).

With our orders in it was time for the magic to begin. The crayons were out and, oh, what magic we did create. While Smalls recreated the cyclone that was bearing down on Queensland, I was busy writing inspirational things like, "too much violins and not enough sax" and "accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days you are the statue". Goldilocks was making rainbows and The Boss was drawing some very lifelike portraits of each of us. It all came together beautifully and the result was pure poetry.

Not long after our drawing was complete our meals arrived. Despite being entree size my seafood salad (pictured) was still a generous portion and easily enough to feed me. Many restaurants can be quite stingy with the star ingredient of a salad. Not so at The Mean Fiddler. It was laden with seafood. The scallops were plump and tender. The fish was perfectly cooked. The prawns spent just a couple of seconds too long on the heat but that didn't stop me from devouring them. The dressing was delicious but didn't overpower the natural flavour of the fresh seafood. The rest of the salad was laden with perfectly chopped carrot, cucumber , cashews and crunchy noodles. As my salad slowly diminished I was starting to think I should've ordered the main size.

The pork belly (pictured) looked lovely and bright when it came out. Four succulent strips of pork belly were placed lovelingly against a shaped mound of rice. The brightness of the perfectly cooked greens contrasted beautifully with the magenta coloured sauce. I traded a piece of pork for a piece of fish with Goldilocks. It was crispy on top but still tender just as pork belly ought to be.

The Boss seemed to have scored an extra half of marron which she bequeathed to Goldilocks and I. It was perfectly cooked and slid straight out of it's shell. It was soft, subtle and sweet. Everything that well-cooked, fresh marron should be. The Boss said her steak was cooked exactly how she liked it and I noticed there wasn't a drop of sauce left on her plate.

As for the rest of us our plates were completely empty. Even Smalls, who is notorious for leaving half her meal behind, polished hers off. The service was perfect. The decor seems a little random (personally I think there should be a crayon drawing hall of fame). And, most importantly, the food was fantastic. Oh, and the crayons!

The Mean Fiddler Cafe Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

If you liked this one then you'll probably like i try The Boulevard

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