Bird, Cow, Fish, Horse

Damo and I had a drink or two tonight (later joined by Michaela) at the White Horse Hotel. We used to go there in the old days when it was very dodgy indeed. I remember a vast room with a piano and karaoke. And for some reason, strippers also come to mind, but I could be wrong about that. These days, the White Horse Hotel is very upmarket. Although Damien and I had drunk there soon after it opened, we had never been upstairs which is where we were last night. “A very modern beer garden” is how I’d best describe the place, with a clean, upmarket, yet also informal feel about it. With a personal television at each table there was also lots of Australian Open watching.

“You’re a local”, Damien said, “What’s the crowd here? This doesn’t look like the usual crowd of Surry Hills grunge folk and poofs”. I suspect the crowd was mostly lots of people who at least work in the city, but who socialise in Surry Hills. It was then that I looked over and saw a woman wearing a pearl necklace, leading me to observe, “It’s not the usual kind of pearl necklace you get in Surry Hills”.

Sorry, that was a gross, and very dodgy thing to say. That said, the “White Horse” was also ONCE a very dodgy place, as was the nearby Clock Hotel. I remember one occasion, for example, soon after moving to Sydney, when there was an armed hold-up in the Clock Hotel bottle-shop. Unsure of what to do, I found myself descending behind a tower of beer slabs until the drama was over. It’s one of those stories you never bother to tell your family from the country, already worried that you’re living in Sydney.

Back in the mid 90s when I arrived in Sydney, the Clock Hotel also had a downstairs leather bar (which incidentally sold good cheap meals), and Surry Hills was quite a different place.

These days, it’s all upmarket, with some of the genuinely best bars and restaurants in Sydney.

Last night we had dinner at “Bird, Cow, Fish”, run by chef Alex Herbert. Although Damien had been for Breakfast there once, I’d never been before, possibly because it’s so close to home that I normally just walk past it. Our meals were good, with the entrees and deserts being the standout courses. We were both a little disappointed with the main courses, though they matched well with the wine.

For entrees, we shared a very tasty “assorted meats” terrine, with accompanying toasted bread, and a thin pasta dish with some very tasty mushrooms. We both thought both were tasty and well-presented.

For mains, we shared a thinly sliced steak dish (with accompanying fruit) and lamb rump with verjuice-marinated currants and burnt butter sauce. Yes, fruit and meat are back together on the same plate again after a long break, and I’m pleased. There was a certain snobbery associated with this combination for a long time, which I’m pleased to say seems to have passed. Although the meals were well-matched with the wine Damien brought along, a Charles Melton Nine Popes 2000, grenache-based wine from the Barossa, we were a little disappointed with the main courses. They were fine, but maybe we expected a little more.

For desert, we had butter-milk pudding with fruit accompaniment, which was TREMENDOUS. The secret, according to the waitress, was dusting the fruit in icing sugar, to really bring out its sugar qualities.

So yeah, I think I’d like to go back to “Bird, Cow, Fish” and try some other main courses. The only other negative is that it was a little noisy. On a positive note, however, the staff were very nice, providing timely, courteous service.

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