A short review of Clarences, after a table of five visit on a Tuesday night to celebrate the birthday of one Ms Rose Gold. 

Please let us know in the comments whether you prefer these short form reviews or those that are a bit meatier.. 

(vegetarian opinions not welcome, obviously)

Food

Starters: 

  • Haloumi - Very very good. Madam Rabbit suggested it was perhaps the best she had ever had (knocking off the previous Haloumi titleholder, Brika
  • Mac n Cheese - Good, but very garlicky.  A little bit watery also.  Most obvious comparison I can make is the Mac n Cheese bites served at the Merrywell, which are better. 
  • Chicken Wings - Very good. Difficult to eat, though. You will need to cast off any shackles of self-awareness and embrace your inner caveman to fully enjoy. Bring an animal pelt or similar for once you've regained your composure, though, as there's going to be a lot of grease and general mess.
  • Sweetcorn Arancini - Just ok. It might have been related to the competition they were up against, but there was still some left over at the end.  Never a good sign. 

Mains: 

  • Gnocchi - Madam Rabbit's standard menu option. Thought this one was ok, although the pumpkin sauce was perhaps a bit overpowering.
  • Steak - My selection - just ok.  Steak was cooked medium rare exactly as I had requested. I don't understand the recent attraction of pairing a huge chunk of protein with root vegetables, however. It seems to be a thing now - are there people out there that enjoy it?  Personally I think if you're going to pair your steak with root vegetables it needs to be a small piece, like an eye fillet or something, and the sauce needs more impact.  It was a very pretty plate, though.
  • The other three all went with the 'Shank and Shirazz' deal, which was a very generous lamb shank and a glass of shiraz for $25.  Great value.  Wonderful value.  All three said they thoroughly enjoyed the shank itself. 

Desserts: 

  • Apple pie - Rose Gold's selection. A simple dish that scored highly. 
  • Chocolate Pot - My selection.  Not a fan.  Not as good as the similar dessert dish at the Merrywell (there is no deliberate decision to compare these dishes to the Merrywell, by the way, just two very similar menu options).  Found it hard to get  the spoon into the jar, and when we did we were disappointed with what had been mined out anyways. 

Drinks

Beers and wine.  No real comments. 

Service

Service was very good.  Attentive and friendly.  No complaints. 

Worth mentioning that we had given our waitress a candle to put into what we assumed Rose Gold would order for dessert, however when Rose Gold didn't order the cheesecake and went with the Apple Pie instead our waitress knew who the birthday girl was (I'm sure the big 'Happy Birthday' badge helped) and adjusted the candle placement accordingly. This might not seem like something requiring a Mission Impossible style command centre, but she wins points for getting it right all the same. 

Amenity

The look of the place is pretty funky, with some big artworks on the wall and quite a cool vibe generally. I particularly liked the wonky picture frames. 

Overall, I think the eating area is perhaps a little bit cramped. This is because they have set up the back section and outside as a bar area for late-20-somethings to designate as their Tinder meeting spots and this leaves little room for fine dining. I must admit I don't know a lot about the commercial realities of running a bar / restaurant, so I'm not sure whether that priority is justified by sales, but it would be nice to see a bit more room for sit down eating. 

Overall

Clarences was quite good and everyone enjoyed it.  The shank and shiraz deal is top notch and something you should get on. If you can't make it for that particular deal then it's still worth a visit for the starters, which were the standouts of the evening.  The venue itself is a little bit cramped but I could see it would have great appeal as a place to visit for a few drinks and small bites before heading out somewhere else.  

7 monolithic chicken wings out of 10


Clarences on Urbanspoon
 

Please let us know in the comments whether you prefer these short form reviews or those that are a bit meatier.. 

(vegetarian views not welcome, obviously)

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