Fashionable Surry

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Something must have gone horribly wrong in the kitchen at Tabou Restaurant in Surry Hills tonight. There was a period of between 30 and 45 minutes where absolutely NOTHING emerged from the kitchen. We imagined for a just a moment a scene reminiscent of “Fawlty Towers”. You know the episode where everything goes horribly wrong and Basil is forced to drive back and forwards in his mini to obtain meals from another nearby restaurant? You could see the signs of frustration on the faces of the waiters, though the patrons (including us) seemed to just take it on board, and we saw no evidence of people getting uptight. Aside from that slight delay, tonght’s “Taste Of Provence” menu was excellent.

The five courses – consisting of Zucchini flowers and salt cod fritters, Coffin Bay mussels, Lamb cutlets, St Marcellin fromage and a cherry clafoutis with honey ice cream – were all excellent. They were also matched extremely well with a variety of French and Australian wines. In some cases the matching was unexpectedly good, such as the combination of the St Marcellin fromage with lavash and grapes with a Grenache-Shiraz from Corbieres. And while a night at Tabou is not exactly in the price range of a McValue Meal, we both thought the summer degustation menu was excellent value.

One of the many things we noticed about the evening was the absence of “street smokers” outside Tabou. Ever since the new smoking laws came into place, espcially with the hotels, Crown Street at night has become awash with people. It can be a real pain the arse trying to walk home from Coles when there seem to be more people on the footpath than actually inside the restaurant. But tonight Tabou was packed and with one or two exceptions, everyone was happy to remain indoors.

As we chatted about a variety of issues, Damo asked me when the new “small bar laws” were coming into force in NSW? Dunno, I replied. He mentioned a friend who works in the industry, who planned to open a small bar as soon as possible, had told him small bar applications were going into the liquor licensing authority at a current rate of about sixty a month. We both concluded, as in Melbourne, many of them would close soon after opening, when their lack of sustainability became evident. However for a brief period of time later this year Sydney will have almost as many small bars as you find people outside on the streets of Surry Hills as night.

Amongst the many people we saw walk past tonight (we had a window seat) was fellow blogger, Monty. It was the second time I’ve seen him out and about in the area in the last month. With visitors to the area like Monty, you know the area has become fashionable! :)

The other sign of Surry Hills fashionability is that Lachlan Murdoch has well and truly found himself a home in the ‘hood. In August 2006, it was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald Lachan had paid $4.3 million for a two-storey Surry Hills warehouse on Nickson Street.

In May. Murdoch’s search for office space ended when he paid $4.3 million for a two-storey Surry Hills warehouse on Nickson Street. The building, between Crown and Bourke streets, is halfway between his present News Ltd office in Holt Street and Aussie Stadium. The premises are destined to become the headquarters for his new company, Illyria Pty Ltd, named after an island off Croatia he once sailed around and not from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, as speculated. There has been talk the 700-odd square metre Surry Hill’s warehouse will soon undergo renovations in preparation for Murdoch’s arrival, but this week the darkened building lay deserted.

That’s my street, I thought to myself at the time. “What’s Lachlan doing in my street in that old warehouse?”, I wondered. In the time since they’ve installed frosted windows and security doors, and aside from the occasional flash car in the street, you would never know I am often never more than 100 metres away from Lachlan Murdoch. And on Saturday and Sunday, you would never know it was where Lachlan Murdoch and Jamie Packer were finalising a multi-billion dollar media deal. As was reported in today’s edition of The Australian

They spent Saturday and Sunday in Murdoch’s office in Surry Hills, Packer and his advisers with Murdoch and his. A constant stream of sandwiches, bottles of water and cups of coffee came through the door. The deal was only finally clinched about 10pm on Sunday.

When I read the story today, the first thing that came into my mind was “where did they get their sandwiches from”? I’m guessing it was Cafe Nikki, as it’s about the only place that’s open on the weekends who would do take-away sandwiches. And I wondered, too, if they popped down to the servo on Cleveland Steet when they needed water. Or maybe to the turkish pizza place just around the corner, as I often do? And I wondered if Jamie, who now seems more interested in gambling than media, had popped down to the TAB on the corner of Nickson and Cleveland Streets to place a bet sometime on the weekend? You often see a lot of “street smokers” there too, by the way. As far as I could see there were no flash cars, and no evidence of the rich and influential walking up and down my street, when all this was happening, But I guess it was a wet weekend…

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