Dinner for two with Madam Rabbit and Mr Blue at Lot 20, one of the kale-serving-topknot-wearing-hyper-hipster small bars that have sprung up in Northbridge of late.
How did it go? It didn't quite reach bad, but it wasn't far off. Read why...
Note: It should be noted that Madam Rabbit and I were fighting as we sat down and a little bit pissed at each other. Madam Rabbit was getting all teary. So Lot 20 had a real uphill climb to leave us feeling tops about our dining experience. With that degree of difficulty disclosed, here we go...
- To start, our waitress convinced us to try the chips. That is to say, a teary-eyed mascara-running Madam Rabbit wanted chips, and the lovely waitress assured us there would be no judgement if chips were what we started with. They weren't usual chips, though, but rather battered, deep fried zucchini and eggplant strips. I'm not sure how I felt about them.
- I think, (1) It's not right to describe these health sticks as chips to an emotional woman; and (2) are they even health sticks if they are beer battered and deep fried? Why not go with a traditional unhealthy base that you can at least be sure the customer is going to appreciate. I can't imagine there has ever been a diner that ordered chips and got all outraged when the didn't receive beer-battered zucchini.
- Overall, not great. The sauce was very nice, but we finished the chips out of obligation and out of a sense that they distracted each of us from whatever it was we were fighting about.
- In addition to the chips I ordered an Austin Midnight Slider, which was very nice. Perhaps not quite as good at the Sliders at the Merrywell, but certainly nothing to complain about and overall something I would order again in a heartbeat. They might get just a tad too messy to eat in a group-drinks scenario, but I'm determined to test that theory next time I'm in the neighbourhood. For science.
- Because I have been on a health kick of late (as demonstrated by the health sticks above and the dessert below) I ordered the Monkfish Dish. The fish itself tasted quite nice and was well cooked, but I didn't rate the sauce or the accompaniment. It was made up of overwhelmingly sour root vegetables and some sort of pickled sauce. Very tart. Not recommended.
- Madam Rabbit ordered the Ricotta gnocchi and thought that it wasn't altogether awful, but didn't blow her away. The ricotta and the gnocci were both a little bland, but the sauce and the odd tomatoes and friends were decent enough.
- Overall the mains weren't that amazing.
- Up until this point I suppose it's fair to say we were a little bit let down by the meal. The slider had been the standout, and everything else was disappointing. It had, however, given us an opportunity to forget our earlier arguments and bond as a united front against a common enemy - and so I cannot dismiss the possibility that our meals were deilberately bad. Perhaps the kitchen saw Madam Rabbit's face as she walked in, and was willing to jump in front of a bullet to get us speaking to one another again. Very selfless, if that's the case.
- Having been a bit disappointed up until dessert we were pleasantly surprised with the Ferrerro Roche Pave we ordered to share. This was truly a delight, and the mousse / biscuit crumble really did taste like the bite-sized chocolates I've binged on more than once in my time. The strawberry sorbet (if that's what it was?) was very sweet but still refreshing. In the moment, all was forgiven.
- Madam Rabbit and I both agreed if we returned to Lot 20 we would just order sliders and icecream. As you can tell I'm taking my new health kick pretty seriously.
- Lot 20 has a really good feel to the place. It's in a great spot in the middle of Northbridge and its decor reinforces the trendy Northbridge vibe well.
- We sat upstairs next to a window looking out onto the new Hotel Alex and opposite the open kitchen. Can't complain about the feel of the tables or the venue at all.
- The toilets have episodes of Blackadder playing over an intercom. It's superb.
Drinks were had. No comments.
- Service was pretty good overall, although there was some room for improvement.
- Our first lady was very very nice and walked us through the menu, helped us pick out a good spot upstairs. She joked around with us and politely ignored Madam Rabbit's teary'ness.
- Our second waitress was not as good, and I'm not sure if that's because she was a bit busier (it didn't seem very busy) or just not interested. It was very difficult to get her attention to get the bill. So much so that one of the chefs in the kitchen saw that we were being neglected and actually found our waitress for us. So, points for the chef and minus points for the waitress.
I really want to like Lot 20, as it has a great feel to it and I think it suits me better than some of the other small bars that have sprung up nearby (the Blackadder toilets are an inspiration!), but I can't look past the disappointing food. I'm hoping we simply made some bad or unlucky menu choices but I suspect the flavours they served us were deliberate. The slider I ate though gives me some hope, and I suspect I will return. Whether I order anything other than the ferrerro roche inspired dishes remains to be seen.
6 cunning Baldrick plans out of 10