A cozy/crazy Social

Fitzroy Social
222 Brunswick Street Fitzroy

(Visited April ’17)

I’m ashamed to say, that the thought of heading over to Fitzroy from the Port Phillip Bay-side of town, on that Thursday night, Good Friday Eve… well it felt like more of an effort and a drainer, than the desire to see my high school friends was.

I mean, the group of us only get together every few years or so. All 6 of us. And so that should have been incentive enough, right?

Yeah, but now high school is over: I’m a Mum, I’m a wife, and I’m an inventive cook too, who was just freaking out over how the hell I was gonna bake all the Easter goodies I was planning on before Easter on Sunday.

But I soon whooped my ass into gear, and as soon as I was all dolled up, I felt much more, Fitzroy ready.

I knew Fitzroy well. I had worked in the area and walked its streets often, many, many years ago. In doing so, I thought I knew what kind of place I could expect. Small, cramped, dark. Meals at the bar, sitting up on some tall stools, looking down the line at each other and barely able to hear ourselves over the band music. I knew we were having dinner there, and one of the girls was pregnant, so I figured it must be somewhat ‘family’ friendly…

I just didn’t know how that would be.

Well, when I luckily pulled right up to the front and parked (my first surprise of the night) I then walked in through the open doors, and got my second surprise.

This place, was HUGE.

It was high, open-spaced, and light. Yes there was a bar, on the left upon entry, and it was long and wide. But also, occupying more than 3/4s of the space, was the seating area. Tables were throughout, along with those that backed onto booths against the wall, and dotted in amongst all of this were purple couches, all high backed and posh and definitely standing out, used as seating as well.

The toilets were out the back, near where our group was eventually seated, and these were spacious and funky looking too.

As I positioned myself in the booth next to my friend, I looked at these seated works of art, and thought ‘damn. I want to sit in one of those.’

They looked out of place, and yet in true eclectic Fitzroy style, they totally fit in.

And then there was the greenery.

Greenery, you say? In a Fitzroy bar? Where the hell could they fit such greenery?

Why, on the ceiling of course.

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It was an interesting and welcoming sight, a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of all the diners hanging out and catching up on the floor. I loved it.

Once all the girls (and one beau) had arrived, and we were only visited three times by the waitress who was coming to take our order but we were still not ready, we finally ordered.

I got a glass of the Cape Schanck Pinot Noir (from the Mornington Peninsula, of course)

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And soon after as the meals arrived, so too did my meal:

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Now alas, all I can go on is memory, because the guys at Fitzroy Social are so efficient they have already changed their menu, a month on from my visit there! And of course the chicken I had is no longer on it. But I can remember there was a kind of mustard glaze-sauce on the chicken, atop creamy mash, and the carrots were honeyed.

I do recall I enjoyed my dish, however it needed a side, vegies or chips or something. The mash was a small serving. No fault of the menu, it did clearly state what I received, I just should have paid attention more. I enjoyed the mustard flavour against the sweet carrots, and hey… it just meant I had more room for dessert.

After eating, taking the traditional group photo followed by stupid-face photo, a few of the girls headed off, leaving the ones that were left deciding to go for the Dessert Box

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(Apologies for the disgustingly dark photo, the dim lights in that part of the room made it awfully hard)

3 of us went for this, which consisted of full portions of their regular desserts: peanut butter cheesecake, caramel and Nutella pie, salted caramel and popcorn panna cotta, and a scoop each of raspberry and coconut sorbet.

My faves were the cheesecake, panna cotta and raspberry sorbet, but they were all good in their own right. Going the shared dessert box with friends is quite possibly the best idea, you get a taste of everything. Gluttony at its finest.

After this it was my cue to exit, and I left the last two girls behind, with the bright lights and slowly increasing volume and rowdy natures that were on the increase, behind. Back to the beach, driver.

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Food: 7/10. A varied menu for all – burgers, meat, fries, salads and much more.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Bustling and happening, yet still chilled and casual. Sit at the bar… sit at a booth. Sit at a purple couch. Do whatever. But we’re in Fitzroy, outer-city suburbs, so you would only expect just that. It started off at a stable volume when I was there, and the music and chatter only increased throughout the night. It wasn’t too loud that you couldn’t hear your friends talking across from you at the table, so that I appreciated.

Staff: The waitress tending to us was very smiley and polite, and offered suggestions when needed. She was Fitzroy-savvy.

People: A real mix. There were groups of friends, and I expected it to be a much younger crowd, but I did see a couple of kids here and there with their parents! It is definitely a younger crowd, 20-30s, but it was nice to see that littlies were welcome too.

Price: I paid about $35ish for my portion of the bill. I can’t say for sure about the chicken, but the estimate was in the high teens to low 20s, and I do recall thinking it was reasonable for that area – I had the chicken, glass of red, and shared in the dessert box.

Advice: If you’re arriving 7-7:30pm you may just get lucky like I did and score parking like RIGHT OUT THE FRONT. Arrive later, and your risk. There are 2 hour parks around the area, and despite what passers-by tell you – pay for a ticket! The bloody signs are so contradictory, they almost want you to think you don’t have to pay, when indeed, you do. I have seen people getting fines for parking without a ticket, and not getting a new one when their last one expired – trust me. Or if you don’t mind walking, go to a flat-rate car park and walk a couple of blocks…

If you’re into funky, retro things, book a booth. It’ll become your facebook profile pic, I have no doubt.

Finally, go the dessert box. You’re going with someone right? Friends? A Man? Your Mum? Unless you go there alone maybe don’t order it… what the hell, you only live once right? Eat ALL the desserts!

In a nutshell: A real surprise of a bar I must say. Expansive, airy, and contrasting textures and sights, made for a great evening with friends. The menu is varied and caters to most palates, and the room is divided into play and eat, so that you can dine with friends and hear every word they say, or have the club vibe happening and seat (and eat) up at the bar. A cool blend of both, and I think all kinds of Social interactions will work well here, way into the future…

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Fitzroy Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Friends, Facebook & Fakery

Start rant.

When a friend, or a collection of friends gives you more anguish than happiness, sometimes you have to wonder.

At some point, despite emotions, despite history, despite memories, there is a point where you have to ask yourself:

‘Is this person worth my valuable time and effort?’

‘What are they bringing to my life?’ (i.e joy, positivity, great times, support, love, loyalty)

And in famous Miss Jackson’s words

‘What have you done for me lately?’

Friendship is not about just taking, so don’t take the above incorrectly. But when you feel you are always trying, being the instigator, making the plans, and starting the chase… you really do get tired of it soon enough.

I’m feeling this way about a couple of people right now. It’s when you feel like you are the one always bending over backwards and making the effort, and the other party is purely placid, responding to you only by your active example.

Also what bothers me, is the arse-sucking. I have a friend that sucks arse so much, it is almost painful to witness. Clearly she is not sucking my arse or else I wouldn’t mind, let’s be honest. But I feel she places her loyalties in places where they are not really appreciated… I know this says a lot about me and our friendship. Of course I believe she should place her loyalty with me, as I am loyal to her.

But nope. For some unbeknownst reason to me, whether she feels she can’t relate to me, or I’ve pissed her off too many times, or I hate to say it, but is envious of me… I don’t know. But it bugs me that she is the way she is.

Also facebook. It’s amazing the high school bullshit that continues on that forum long after those turbulent years are over. Like, even 15 years later. I realised today there are people who are in contact and send lovely messages to my friends, whereas they completely ignore me on facebook… and yet they had the gall to add me to increase their ‘friends’ total.

And in turn I see, certain friends of mine are still continuing the arse-sucking that was also so prevalent in high school, by sucking up to people who they don’t need to anymore. Newsflash! Hello, we are not in high school anymore, it’s the real world! But apparently, this arse-sucking IS the real world. I see there are many people, those of my arse-sucking friends, and those who want their friends total increased, who participate in this petty game of ignorance, fakery, and insincere niceties, all so that they can be ACCEPTED.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Everyone wants to be accepted. Sure, even me, which is why it bugs me so that my friend sucks arse to the wrong people, and even those arses from high school ignore me online. We all want to be liked, wanted, and accepted.

And so when someone pisses you off, that’s why it’s so hard to let go. When it’s a friend. A sucking-arse friend. And even when it’s that mole from high school.

Rant over.

 

The Extra Day

That’s what the Leap Year brings us.

The Leap Year makes up for the fact that the year is not precisely 365 days long. It’s 365 and a quarter, to be (almost) precise. For those playing at home, 365.2422 days to be minutely exact.

We go by the Gregorian calendar, which uses 365 days in a calendar year. Back in the day, Pope Gregory XIIIs astronomers worked out this system to adjust to the fact, which will need to be re-evaluated in about 10,000 years when we are long gone. But for now, it works. Every four years, February 29 appears.

And why February? February used to have 30 days, while August had only 29. When Caesar Augustus became Emperor, he wanted to add 2 days to ‘his’ month, therefore stripping Feb of its two, and adding them to August.

Interesting stuff.

But this all became super-interesting to me back in the year 2000. I was in high school, and a school friend told me that on the extra day of a leap year, you were meant to do something different. Not many customs relating to this day actually mention this, it’s always the usual ‘women can propose to men’ thing you hear more often than anything else.

I don’t know if he was telling the truth; if he was twisting things to make his actions that day seem much more plausible; or whether he was having me on – either way, what he said made an impact.

I still think of Feb 29 as a day to do something different. Leading up to today, I didn’t know what though – what would I do with these extra 24 hours? I mean, not a whole lot, seeing as I’m sitting here typing at work. But still. It gives you hope, possibility, excitement… an extra day? When you think of it like that, in this time-poor, fast-paced, go go go world, it means a whole lot.

And then I think: well why can’t we think of every day, as a day to do something different? Worthwhile? Exciting? Daring? Inspiring?

I’m drumming my fingers at my desk here, anxious to get inspired and make things happen…

And then I remember: aren’t I doing that already?

Before you look at what you can do, look at what you have done already. Grow on that. – SmikG.

Food for thought. What have you been doing?

 

Sun Room Buffet

The Conservatory
Level 1 Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman Street Southbank

Something about the word ‘buffet,’ just makes you drool that little bit more. Is it the thought of an endless amount of food on offer for the one price? Is it the thought that rather than agonise over the seemingly endless food choices in the menu, you can try a little bit of everything? Or are we a gluttonous breed that just wants to nom nom nom?

Does anyone actually realise that our stomachs can never digest more than our eyes can absorb?

With high hopes of a banquet feast, we ventured off to The Conservatory on a Sunday for lunch, to celebrate our 6 year wedding anniversary. Awww. I had booked in advance, and upon arrival we were immediately seated at a table with high chair for baby girl ready and waiting. Superb.

The room was amazing. We weren’t seated near the windows, but even so you could see the city skyscrapers and the Yarra River below. Sun room indeed. It was an amazing location. The interior had great high cathedral-like ceilings, and though everything, from the white décor to the staff presentation to the customers themselves, were of a very high and poshy standard, there was a warmth to the atmosphere too. Maybe it was the surprise of the glorious sun shining through on that Autumn day.

It was a very nice feeling to know we were going to be there for the next few hours.

Our lunch buffet session was to last from 12:15 – 3:00pm. I had plans to have little plates and try to taste a little bit of most of the dishes on offer there. I certainly couldn’t try a bit of everything, not only because not everything is to taste, but really? It would be a difficult job stomaching too many flavours together.

As I haven’t food-blogged recently, and having the wonderful bonus of our daughter getting cranky in her high chair, I forgot to photo my first dish. So I kind of had it again for this posts’ sake.

Following are the photos I took on the day, with some brief descriptions.

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My lovely wine, with the unmistakable white background and Hubbie’s meal.

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No I don’t eat prawns, cheese and bread together – the bread and cheese were for baby girl. The prawns were lovely and fresh, really enjoyable.

She didn’t like the cheese, I think it was a bit of a rich, heavier cheddar, so I later brought back bocconcini which she loved.

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I had a kind of sweet chilli chicken salad, which had a decent kick to it – I liked that. I had a few rice paper rolls, which also had a bit of bite due to the lemongrass I think, and I chose those specific ones because I was on a prawn-fest and was craving seafood.

The sushi had cucumber and prawn with some kind of paste, and also not pictured I tried a mussel which had spicy oil flavours drizzled over it. All were great. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the chicken salad though, considering there were no carbs in it.

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I next had food from the Indian/Asian station, which comprised of vegetable and pork dumplings with soy sauce, a spicy papaya salad, tandoori chicken, a mild potato curry, and I think what was saffron rice.

I loved the vegetable dumplings – I should have gotten more of those. The papaya salad surprised me too with its spices, whereas the chicken, potato curry and rice were warm and comforting.

By this stage I had had 4 plates. Some were small, some comprised of light seafood, but still four plates equalled a bit of consumption. I took that opportunity to give myself a needed food break and try to find a change room for baby girl.

*Parents, take note.* By all means, take your nappy-wearing children out with you, everywhere, anywhere you dine, much like we do… just be advised that if eating at the Conservatory, you will have to jump on a golf buggy to find the nearest suitable toilets.

I went through two levels before I found a very kind Crown employee who discovered there was a baby change table in the disabled toilets of The Waiting Room, one ground below Conservatory. Take note parents!

It was probably a good half hour by the time I came back to the table, to see Hubbie brimming with happiness over his half-eaten smorgasbord of a dessert plate, telling me he’d just ordered a latte. So I had to catch up.

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So did baby girl.

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Above dessert plate: A raspberry tart, brownie, goats cheese cheesecake, macaroons, and some fruit with chocolate-dipped strawberries in the middle.

And I seriously thought I was going to go back for more! I couldn’t. The dessert station was a work of art in itself, my God. There were so many things I wanted to try, that I just couldn’t after I’d finished my plate… sigh.

I actually enjoyed my raspberry tart the most, although everything tasted great. Baby girl had bits of dessert here and there as well as some fruit, and then of course she had her babycino which looked great.

My coffee was great too, a much needed finishing-line drink after all that food.

Apart from the day being a celebration of when Hubbie and I exchanged vows to each other, it ended up being surprisingly punctuated by more nostalgia when I discovered that my high school homegroup teacher was eating with his family for a birthday celebration, just two tables over. I haven’t seen him for 13 years, yet we recognised each other almost immediately! It was a happy addition to a wonderful day, and it was great to see again, one of the people who positively impacted me during those crucial high school years too. What a (not) coincidence 😉

Food: 8/10. A lot of it, of a great standard, and very fresh. I almost find this difficult to rate, and explain, because usually when you eat at a restaurant you have chosen a meal that has most times been created by the chef, a meal that should be a wonderful balance and/or contradiction of flavours that dance in your mouth and that leaves you feeling satisfied, happy you ate there, and amazed at the creativity of the dish. When you dine at a buffet, YOU create the way your dish looks, YOU decide what is going to go with what and at the end of the day YOU are the responsible one for what you have eaten. Singularly, the dishes at the Conservatory were consistently great-tasting and the presentation of their food in the stations and of the stations themselves, was amazing. It’s the only food-presentation they are in control of, before we come in slap it on our plates and upload it online to show off to our friends.

Coffee: 7/10. Smooth. We discovered that the first round of coffees was free (part of the price you’re already paying really) when you are lunching there, with any subsequent coffee rounds at an additional price. With a coffee/foam each, we left happy about that.

Ambience: Really lovely. Everything looks so polished and refined, the staff breeze on by, and the people dining there are all dressed up and looking so smart… it’s an upmarket buffet experience. With views of the city coming at you through the windows, you kind of lean back in your seat and go “ahh, I could get used to this.”

Staff: Fantastic, accommodating, which I expected nothing less considering the establishment and price we paid. Our waitress in particular was really kind and friendly, explaining everything to us on arrival, and tending to our needs and baby change requests 🙂

People: There were those celebrating milestones like us, and then there were those that are so rich they rocked up an hour into service and left earlier than everyone else because they do it once a month. Generally an older crowd, I would say 30 +. A few families though, and many large groups of people, it seems to be a social gathering meeting ground.

Price: Our Sunday lunch was $95 pp. We ended up paying $212 in total with my $10 wine and Hubbie’s $12 beer. $12 for Crown?! Get your wallets ready drinkers. Children under 4 do not pay, which is great seeing as most toddlers appetites are so all over the place. (I think children 4-12 years pay 50% of the adult price). Baby girl enjoyed her bread, cheese, cheesy pita bread and bits of vegies, and of course the cake. There are things to suit the kiddies, don’t worry, especially from the dessert station – make your own ice cream cone? Hell yeah even I’ll do that!

Advice: Book in advance, no matter what. I booked 6 days in advance and lucky I did, as I hadn’t realised the Logies were on that night at the Crown! Booking wasn’t an issue though.

As for the food, I would suggest two things.

1: eat the things you like, whether they are a tired and true favourite, like in my case the fresh prawns, and the vegetable dumplings. Eat a lot of them too.

2: try different and interesting things that you have always wanted to try. I know this is in contradiction to the above point, but if you take these two things on board, you’ll leave happier. For example, I had the saffron rice, the sushi and then the macaroons for dessert – all great items which I enjoyed, but these three things I eat quite regularly, and if we’re being honest, they tasted about as good as all the other times I ate them. I was happy I tried the spicy chicken salad, because it was a different dish for me, however I wish I had also tried some of the Asian stir-fry and noodle dishes. It had been my intention, I just got too full and then it was dessert time. Also, rather than the macaroons, I should have tried one of the other magical looking sweet treats… you just gotta check out that food station. Food for thought.

In summary of the above, eat what you like but that which you don’t get to eat often!

In a nutshell: I would love to go back. They cater for dinner and breakfast as well, so you can always find a suitable time to buffet there. Taking my above two points in mind, I would go back with a vengeance. A beautiful food-lovers experience.

Conservatory on Urbanspoon

Bring back the school photos

I was chatting to a work colleague today when I came across an interesting thought. As usually occurs post-coffee consumption.

We were discussing the years that go by way too quickly, and I noted how I seem to be stuck in the year 2001. Every time someone mentions the ’90s, for a brief moment a part of me recollects ‘ahh, just a few years ago.’

Mmmm, nope. Try going on 15 years ago. 2001 coincides with my last year of high school, and for some reason, my head just wants to live in that time.

I mentioned how the start of high school is so drastically different compared to the person you are when you leave at the end of Year 12. There is so much growth and development, so many changes, physically, emotionally and mentally, that occur in those 6 years. And then you leave school, go on to further study or find work, yet those following years are kind of a bit of blur. You get married, and throw in some more unfocused years, where everything just seems to blend into the next.

Thinking of the image I had of each high school year, it hit me: photos. We had photos to mark each year of our school lives, something that abruptly stopped when we entered the real world. That photo wasn’t only a snapshot of the physical (and horribly awkward) changes we were undergoing at the time, but if you recall your school photos, take out the old album and leaf through the pages, you’ll have names, scenarios, moments and feelings come through to you. That one photo represents your entire year, your entire state of being, not just at school, but in this “thing called life” (as Prince says).

We need the school photos to come back.

That’s what’s missing. That’s why the days, weeks, months, years, all blend into one another and follow the other in this indistinct conga line of blur.

Recently, the years don’t seem so blurry, and that’s because they have been punctuated with approximately 5,610 photos of baby girl since her sweet arrival into our world. All those photos of a girl who isn’t even two, paints a strong picture of the time before her birth, her first year with us and these current months as she develops into a vibrant, happy, energetic and beautiful soul.

But I still kinda need the 12 years in between, the ‘missing’ years : from the end of year 12 to actually having her.

A yearly photo will fix all that. Where we can get dressed up in appropriately-themed yearly uniform, don our sporting cheesy smiles and get into position for a pose that when we look back, will tell us all we need to know about that year that was.

Dead on Time

Unlike my previous estimation, in the past week and a half I’ve attended 3 funerals. Not really a record I wanna be making, or breaking.

Death has been not only a present factor in my life, but in the lives of my family and friends. Two functions this month have been cancelled because of said Deaths, with one notably being scaled-down due to a family members passing.

Throw in some other bad news from the media, also of a ‘Grim’ nature, and it just feels like the start of what’s meant to be a very festive month, has started off very, very sad. I don’t know what’s happening, but it’s been affecting everyone. It has to be planetary, it’s too much of a coincidence.

Something occurred to me while I was at the most recent funeral (and which I’m hoping was my last). I had entered the service only a few minutes after the start time, but the Italian priest was already well underway into his piece. He was speaking with such conviction, that I wished I could understand what he was saying. It sounded important, and like it might just change my life. Nevertheless I kept listening, trying to remember what I could of the language I’d dabbled in at high school when I was 13.

Sitting there, I suddenly realised that with all 3 funerals, I’d been, we’d been, late. Not by much, only a few minutes past the hour for the commencement of the service, but still. Few minutes past, and we were late.

I thought of other occasions held in churches, not of a sad nature. Weddings never started on time. Christenings, you could bet your life they’d be running late, babies being surely unpredictable and all. These joyous, happy, memorable occasions never ran to schedule. Arriving as a guest, LATE, you would be forgiven for not being on time… because the guest-of-honour would most likely not even be there yet.

Life. Death. The living are late… and the Dead don’t wait. They don’t wait for no one.

These thoughts kept circling in my head. The living are late: we have all the time in the world, yet really, it’s the one thing we all complain about – lack of time. And the deceased have no where to go, yet they are punctual. On time. For what? The afterlife?

So maybe, we should keep complaining. Keep running late. Running late, we have somewhere to go, someplace happy to be. Someone to see, and company to laugh with.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock.