Until last night, the two most memorable occasions in my life where I’ve eaten garlic bread have both related to restrictive alcohol laws.
Back in the 1980s, I recall, you had to have a meal to drink at a bar in Brisbane. It didn’t matter how much you drank (of course). But I vividly remember going to bars in Fortitude Valley (during my university years) where you were always handed a ticket for food as you entered clubs like The Beat and The Terminus. It was a quirk of the liquor licensing system. Often there was a simple curry, mostly though it was garlic bread. I suspect a fair few of the older people in those bars threw the tickets away, but as a university student, I can assure you, it was welcome sustenance.
Many years later, living in Sydney, I encountered something similar at the legendary late night bar, Barrons. Barrons, located in Kings Cross was a bar where you would go for a drink when everything else was closed. Famously, a friend who fell down the stairs in an alcoholic stupour, was once asked by one of the bouncers… “So are you coming in or leaving…?”
Like Brisbane in the 80s, Barrons had a “must eat” policy. Vividly I remember going through the farce of having to order a meal before you were allowed to go upstairs to have a drink. “What would you like to eat?”, they’d ask, for which the only answer was “Garlic Bread, thanks”. You then had to wait for the garlic bread to arrive before you could go upstairs. Being a little older (and probably having already eaten), the sustenance angle was no longer relevant, and so I remember waiting, making a token effort to eat the garlic bread, and then heading upstairs.
Let’s face it. Garlic bread is mostly pretty crap.
But last night I went out with friends and ate what was possibly the world’s greatest garlic bread at the Mad Pizza Bar on Crown Street. Admittedly we had enjoyed a few drinks earlier, and we were all quite hungry, but the garlic bread was incredibly tasty, and such a long way from everything else I’d eaten previously. The garlic was sweet (probably roasted) and so was the bread. The pizzas were okay. The garlic bread was amazing.