Or, more appropriately, Steak N' Tits Wednesday.
Sharpen your pencils and adjust your bra-straps – this months' (okay – last month's – I've been running a bit behind) Steak N' Chicks Tuesday (okay – Wednesday) included some fast-paced games of bingo and a Dolly Parton impersonator. Throw in a hooker, a murder, and a roulette wheel and you're practically in Vegas.
Except we definitely weren't. We were in Erskineville.
16th May 2007 – The Kurrajong Hotel, 106 Swanson St, Erskineville.
The svelte and glamorous Claire organised this month's Steak N' Chicks, which, ironically, was held in a venue that, whilst heavily endearing, would never be described as svelte and glamorous. The Kurrajong has read the 1979 Australian Pub Manual from cover to cover, and followed almost every guideline with refreshingly old-school results.
A barn-sized space has its massive U-shaped bar impressively plonked right in the centre of the room, with tables (the tall kind, featuring the all-too-rare thigh-height handbag shelf) scattered throughout the remaining space. The kitchen is off to one side, pokies are out of sight, and larger, less comfortable timber bench tables run along one side of the bar for groups like us, or even those with blokes in.
One very important point, though: if you want to go for a beer in Sydney in anything except a Rabbitohs NRL jersey, go somewhere else. I've seen Rabbitohs banners, flags, and supporters before, but when you see Rabbitohs window decals on every available glass surface, you come to fully realise the depths Bunny-backing can reach (Brendan McMahon being the obvious exception, of course). The Kurrajong is no stranger to old men's bum-cracks or badge-draws either, but none of this is to say it's not a Bloody Nice Pub. It has a feel that too few pubs in Sydney still have, and so many think they're too cool to try and emulate. You'd be comfortable bringing your dog to the Kurrajong, and a lot of people do.
To me, though, the single most attractive thing about the Kurrajong, and in fact the reason that Steak N' Chicks Tuesday was held on a Wednesday this month, is Dolly Parton Bingo. Bingo hosted by a woman dressed as Dolly Parton, speaking with a bunged-on American accent, and stopping between games to belt out some of Dolly's biggest hits (say that fast – it's funny). Incongruous – perhaps. It's like someone starting a Charlie's Angels-themed darts tournament, or a Sister Janet Mead Spelling Bee. But it works. Bingo and Dolly go together like… well, Bingo and Kenny.
The obligatory toilet review must make mention of the many doors one must pass through before actually coming across any porcelain, statistically making Narnia a little quicker to get to. In all other aspects, though, the plumbing facilities get a resounding and relatively non-descript "meh". They'll do.
For the first time ever, I couldn't keep track of all the attendees, so at the risk of leaving anyone out a-la the Romper Room Magic Mirror, let's just leave it at Claire, Alex, me, Mel, Tash, Amanda, Ella, Elly, Charlotte, Rachel, Belinda, Tina and Tori. If I've left you out by accident, I encourage you to make a more significant impression next time. If I've left you out on purpose, you were probably rude to me, and I'm sulking. All in all, a resoundingly bonza bevy of beauteous birds which, with the addition of beer, wine, music and competitive pencil-based parlour games, became resoundingly resounding.
Staff here are what you'd expect in a pub like the Kurrajong – friendly, no-bullshit, and mostly built-for-function, with the exception of one or two bar-chicks fairly obviously thrown in for eye-candy for the mostly male clientele. A succinct summary (for a change) can be drawn from the fact that when we arrived, the girl behind the bar said "Oh! There's girls here! If we'd known, we would've put a few more male bar-staff on". Call them. We'll wait.
Claire nudged me and pointed to an extremely short, fashionably-dressed, moderately-breasted woman across the room, whispering "That's Dolly!". Apart from the mild disappointment arising from the fact that I'd half-expected Dolly to be a man in drag, I was reassured that the final, costumed result would be much more impressive.
As a rule, the food is too big for the plates at the Kurrajong, and I suspect the calves they slice their veal from are from meadows in the Chernobyl outskirts. People do not go home hungry from this pub. Meals are pretty standard pub fare, with cheap burgers, steaks under twenty dollars, fish n' chips, pastas and mixed grills taking up most of the menu space.
The chicken burger, especially when upgraded to include cheese and avocado, seemed to be the pick of the night, and universally enjoyed, although the somewhat drier beef burger, orange-hued wall of veal schnitzel, soggy chips and not-bad pasta had less glowing reviews. Yeah, the food's fine. As a restaurant, this place is a great Bingo joint.
Dolly re-appeared in costume during dinner, and even in nosebleed heels only came up to my chin, although with parts of her now well-padded, if measured whilst lying on our backs, she'd have been at least two norks taller. And what a hostess.
After the distribution of bingo cards, Dolly commenced the evening's entertainment, which consisted of some really-rather-well-sung Parton tunes interspersed with bingo games at breakneck speed. And I don't care what anybody says. Bingo is exciting. Shut up.
Our table became louder and louder, both with the singing along and the bingo enthusiasm, and the noise built and grew and we ate and scribbled and laughed and swore and then BINGO!! Belinda and Tori provided our raucous table with a total of three wins, although neither name was drawn out of the hat for the big $500 prize. We did, however, snicker conspirationally every time the number sixty-nine was called, and we fat-ladied and legs-elevened at all the appropriate moments. Dolly finished with a "comedy" version of "I Will Always Love You" called… wait.. still laughing… "I Will Always Hate You" – see what she did there? Because she changed the wor… never mind - which included conversational anecdotes between verses like "I went out with a builder. He was always coming… next week!" Boom, I say. And furthermore – Tish.
The Summarising Bit
Go and do Dolly Bingo at the Kurrajong. You know there's a bit deep inside you that wants to. Garn.