Sunday, 25 February 2007

Bacash: a birthday dinner

A really good birthday meal at Bacash. When I left home with Babe, I was still stressed after a couple of days spent ruminating about the disappointment that working in mental health is currently bringing me, and the fact that my 18 year old brother-in-law said that he would vote for John Howard at the next election, because “Australia’s better than it was 10 years ago”, which I think is bullshit. I wish I didn’t care, but I do. I was thus unsure whether my general fed-upness would allow me to be able to enjoy our booking.

We had a nice walk down the hill from the car, under big green trees to the restaurant, on a refreshing evening that followed another hot, humid day, and I started to feel a little better. There is a striking exhibition up on the walls at Bacash by a photographer named Jason Kimberley, entitled Coolibah Tree. It is brilliant and transcendental, and shows extraordinary staged shots of the Australian outback. They took my breath away, and I climbed further away from misery.

To eat, we chose sublime garfish nori rolls to start with (garfish, smoked salmon, raw prawn, pasley and garlic, snap fried and served with a soy chilli sauce). Babe was sure that we shouldn’t eat the head and tail, but we did anyway, as the cheese and spinach topped oysters that we ordered were quite yucky, so I wanted something to take the memory away. The waitress congratulated us on eating the offaly bits, so maybe it isn’t the normal thing to do (they did look decorative), but they were just too good to leave - dense, fresh, fishy and garlicky.

I had whole flounder with chips and salad as my main course, and Babe had an escabeche of ocean trout, spiced with orange, caramelised onion and star anise. The flounder was one of the best things that I have ever eaten. I think that the simple accompaniments added some ballast and balance to it – a good green salad, and excellent salty chips, but the flounder was magical – just butter, salt and grilled black fish, I think. Just writing about the experience makes my heart quiver. Babe's baby-pink trout was delicately spiced, sweet and interesting, sitting on top of soft, waxy and buttery potatoes. I tried Babe’s Rose, which had a primeval taste to it (I’m not sure if that’s an acceptable flavour description for wine), and got a glass of it for myself.

For desert, we couldn’t wait for the desired soufflĂ©, as the baby was at home, usually gets fed at 10pm, and we didn’t want to leave grandparents with an angry and upset babba, so shared rich and well made ice cream (hazelnut, strawberry, mandarin and another berry); and a lemony jelly and cream, topped with lemon granita in a glass.

The service was slow and really non-pressured, which I really liked, as we were able to spend longer in the restaurant, and unwind more fully. The tables were very close together, so we found other people’s proximity disconcerting at first, however we quickly grew tolerant of it. Indeed, I felt more tolerant of people in general after such a great meal. I eavesdropped easily on a conversation at the next table (a couple of millimeters away) when Babe went to the toilet, about private schools, and found it interesting, and the group talking most endearing, so maybe I can negotiate the next little while with a little bit more lightness and generosity of spirit.

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