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Monday, March 05, 2007

Steak N' Chicks Tuesday #8

A three-month hiatus between Steak N' Chicks Tuesdays is, quite frankly, too long. Mixing red meat, oestrogen and good shoes is a thing which needs to happen monthly. It's oestrogen's way.
That said, it was gorgeous to start this year's Steak ball rolling with a good turnout, some decent weather and the obligatory teetering mountains of food and wine.

27th February 2007 – Cabana Bar and Lounge, St Leonards.

www.cabanabar.com.au

The Place
It's hard for me to be objective when describing Cabana Bar, as this was hardly my first visit. It's about fifteen minutes' walk to my home (mostly downhill, I might add – both geographically and metaphorically), and just across the road from my workplace. I've been visiting this place in a liquid context since before the recent-ish makeover, when it was just known as Norths Rugby Club, in the old days of ugly club carpet, old men with bum-cracks on show, and general derision shown to anyone without a jug of VB on their laminex table. In its new guise, Cabana Bar is all schmick shiny floors, funky-arsed d├ęcor, cruisy-de-la-schmoozy outdoor area and general laid-back fanciness. There are only two things that give away the fact that this is still a rugby club – the fact that you have to 'sign in' at the door, and, in Winter, the disproportionate number of thick-necked male clientele hobbling around on crutches. Cabana is massive, with a whoppingly impressive outdoor area, a huge indoor area with a large bar, pool tables, function room and separate dining bit, and a largely forgotten (and often closed) balcony. The main outdoor area is the business end, though, with a seating choice (if one arrives early) of undercover cushioned comfort, massive logs of bottom-receptive wood, outdoor booths, plastic-backed chairs or odd, white and orange capsule-shaped stool-pods. A hint – do not choose a plastic chair on a hot day. Trust me on that. There's umbrella shade and breeze in Summer, and absurdly effective heating in Winter. My favourite outdoor feature (although not in operation last Tuesday), is the massive white-bricked building next door, which is often used as a screen for projected football and cricket games, movies, and the oddly engaging Fashion Channel. I likes me tele-visual entertainment LARGE.

The People
A bunch of usuals plus a smattering of S'n'C virgins made for a particularly pleasant pot-pourri of chicks. This month Alex and I were joined by the newly-hitched Claire (who organised it this time – thanks, missus!), Vanessa, Alyson, Ella, and virgins Steph, Katrina, Lucette and new-to-Sydney Kristy. Ella again regaled us with tales from her work-related cosmetic-enhancement adventures, introducing the smirk-worthy phrase "naso-labial folds" into our general vernacular. Honestly, you can get practically anything cosmetically filled these days – conversation even ventured near the possibility of getting one's bottom crack injected with the surgical equivalent of PolyFilla, giving rise to the disturbing notion of a 'mono-butt'. But I digress.
Staff here are competent, polite, non-intrusive, occasionally bored-looking, and in a number of examples, good-looking enough to make their skills-set irrelevant. I love a hot young glassie. I do. I just wish I wasn't old enough to find myself almost revolted at the thought of buttock-contact with one. But I digress.
Clientele at Cabana on a weeknight consists of small pockets of rugby-esque gents and local residents, but is primarily made up of workers from the surrounding businesses, many of whom are from the advertising, photography, music or television side of life. This occasionally manifests itself in the form of way too many prissy haircuts and unnecessary sunglasses-on-heads, but never to an off-putting degree. In general, I'd give Cabana a perv-factor of five, although only paedophiles and people who like shrieking should make any kind of amorous investment after 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. It's a bit like the playground of a primary school that has a really, really slutty uniform. But I digress.
The toilets are… well, they're there. What looks like a large number of cubicles becomes slim pickings if you discount the doorless or out-of-order, but they do flush. Usually.

The Food
The food at Cabana Bar is good.
Not give-me-the-recipe-and-a-change-of-underwar good, but adequately pleasant, with no distinct drawbacks. The menu looks tempt-a-licious, and it's genuinely difficult to narrow it all down to just one choice. Quality can be changeable, though – a dribble-worthy mushroom tart one week was a sloppy mush-fest the next.
One orders at the bar, and takes one's big number back to one's table to await one's delivery, surrounded by one's companions' numbers like a gigantic, fashionable bingo table. One becomes confused as food is delivered in completely random order.
I had an impressive slab of steak, cooked exactly how I'd ordered it and surrounded by too many chunky fries, exactly the right amount of watercress, a kickass gravy, and a limp-wristed hollandaise. All in all, it was good, and carved up with a steak-knife that would have sent Loreena Bobbit into paroxysms of envy.
Katrina and Steph both had the beef burger special, featuring cheese, bacon, and reportedly a "nice herby tinge". When asked their opinion, they both answered mid-mouthful with "goob".
Claire had the spaghetti with chilli, basil and tomato, normally served with prosciutto but served sans to comply with her vegetarian status. The verdict – "very good".
Pizzas ordered were Virginia Ham, mushroom, wild rocket & pesto pizza (Ella & Lucette – "almost exceptional", "thumbs up"), salami, artichoke, Spanish onion & goat's cheese (Al – "excellent"), and the roast vegetable & feta (Kristy, "good, but sparsely distributed vegies").
Vanessa, who had the roast butternut pumpkin (or "butt pump", as abbreviated by Katrina), mushroom and artichoke salad with baby spinach, pinenuts, red onion & feta, declared it the "best frikkin' salad ever", despite the pool of oil left in the bowl.
Alex tried the Vietnamese chicken salad, which was fresh, piquant, and caused her to mention something about Vietnam sitting on her tongue, and a magic lake of salad-water left on her plate.
It was… you know… good.

The Summarising Bit
I'm going to get all unimaginative and say that this Steak N' Chicks Tuesday was good.
Brilliant setting, with reasonable food and conversation ranging from cosmetic surgery to law exams, to Adelaide, to casual nookie, with some well-timed innuendo lobbed in at every opportunity, as is our brazen wont.
Cabana is absolutely worth a visit, and could really kick some casual gastronomic arse with a bit of consistency.
And finally, for the record, I would really like a mono-butt.

1 comment:

shellity said...

Yay - it's good to see that Cabana finally has a beef burger on the menu. I don't think pubs should be allowed to have a licence without one.

Incidentally, "butt pump" made me chuckle out loud. I have it tagged for future use when the weekly grocery shopping comes around.

I wonder - is it possible to achieve a mono-butt with a butt pump?