I take a good while to make a decision to purchase expensive items. I labour over the decision in my head; I weigh up the pros and cons. Usually the pros amount to “I want this new piece of shiny and it’d make me feel happy” and the cons “fleeting happiness is not edible and will not provide sustenance in the absence of food”.
The ‘pro’ argument tends to get louder the longer I obsess. But let’s be honest, I eat too much as it is! What’s a little self-inflicted starvation for the sake of a new shiny?
My latest internal ‘struggle’ was over the purchase of a new fancy-pants lens. I had tortured Gem with insentient talk of the damned thing for months. She was a good sport about the whole thing — she managed to constrain her homicidal mutterings to sleep talk. Well that, and there may have been a few failed smothering attempts. But I digress.
Finally, I gave in and I purchased the beauty.
Then I waited for it to arrive.
Then, after many a passive-aggressive tête-à-tête between myself and the retailer, the lens arrived! To celebrate, a South Side Sprawl was in order. You, the reader, I hope, rejoices.
After scouting Urbanspoon and reading Jeroxie’s review, Claypots Evening Star was decided upon. After some initial confusion in regards to the location due to gross enduncedness on my part, I found the restaurant. I was playing hookie from work and Melbourne was less of a petulant shit than normal, allowing the sun to make an appearance.
After attracting a glass of Gilgamesh riesling ($7 a glass) I took in the ohm-bee-ants of the place. Mr Dylan’s spastic harmonica was blaring from the loudspeakers and the aforementioned ‘skylight of the Gods’ was providing a good view of the kitchen. The kitchen bisects the restaurant and gives diners a view of the urgency in the kitchen and the madness of a busy service. A nice touch.
After responsibly imbibing inhaling my initial riesling and ordering another, Bob Dylan was replaced by a piano player. A lovely lunch time treat that’s repeated on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to piano, diners can except one side of the restaurant to be closed off, allowing a band to play and an ad-hoc dance floor to function.
After my brief but intoxicating relaxation period, I resumed my delicious mission, deciding on the garlic clams and bread and fish. I had arrived along with the lunch time rush. Judging by the frantic and often raised voices emanating from the kitchen, I think they may still be finding their collective stride. As such, my food took longer than I would have expected, but it was a lovely day and the wine was doing the trick.
Above show the clams in various states of undress. They were wonderful, with a lovely chilli kick and chargrilled smokiness balanced by the freshness of the coriander. Unfortunately the one piece of bread was not nearly enough to mop up the broth, with the delicious concoction seemingly taunting me from the bottom of the bowl. At $12 it was a generous serving size, and it has me in the mood for more clams. Speaking of clams, the clam chowder seemed to be a crowd favourite amongst fellow diners.
While I could have quite happily stopped at the garlic clams, I’m glad I had the bread and fish. Throughout my childhood I was tortured with my mother’s overcooked trevally. Fortunately for me her sadistic streak rarely surfaced. Even so, I was sufficiently scarred that I avoided the aforementioned fish, errantly assuming the fish to be bland, rather than blaming its heavy-handed preparation.
Fortunately this was nothing like the trevally of my childhood — meaty and perfectly seasoned, it was the star of the dish. The bread was fairy floss fluffy with the onion and lettuce providing a nice textural contrast, if not a lot flavourwise.
One side of the kitchen is skirted by display cases showing the day’s fish and tapas offerings. You really get the impression of the seafood being super fresh, almost like you’re sourcing the fish direct from the a fishmonger. Unsurprising given the restaurant’s location in the South Melbourne market.
Lunch was finished and I had to vacate with new camera lens in hand. I was slightly rueful that I had dined solo. Unfortunately I didn’t have the extra dining companions required to (shamelessly) indulge in further gluttony. Next time I won’t make the same mistake.