It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, so we’re off to see The Great Gatsby, along with everyone else. In our enthusiasm to get good seats we get to the Dendy very early and we’ve well and truly finished our crisps and beers by the time the movie starts. I wait till the lights go out before I put on my 3D glasses as I look so ridiculous with two pairs jammed on my face. I really don’t think the 3D-ness added much to the movie so basically I looked stupid for 2 hours for nothing.
After the movie we wandered along King Street towards Number 135. Our considered judgement on the film was: good but not great - so let’s go get some pizza.
Mad Pizza e Bar (I know, the name annoys me too) is our last venue before we get to cross Missenden Road. It will complete the first section of the quest, but as we approach, the doors are shut. Oh no, not another one closed, we think at first, but on closer inspection it turns out that all is well, the lights are on and the doors are only closed because of the wintry gale whipping down the street. Inside it is warm and welcoming. On most nights when we have walked past, Mad Pizza e Bar has been wide open, packed and pumping, but tonight it is relatively quiet, with a small early evening crowd that includes a number of families with young children.
The front of house is manned by a friendly chap with a beard and a nice line in banter. He points us to a table, explains the menu, and tells us to order at the bar. So we do, an olive and chorizo antipasti to start, and a pizza – half and half Amalfi (prawns) and Pepperoni – and a salad with rocket, pear and walnuts, all washed down with a bottle of Montepulciano.
The antipasti and the wine arrive quickly and are welcomed with enthusiasm. The antipasti comes in a little cast-iron frying pan and is very good. The wine slips down easily, and the venue starts to fill up. While we are waiting for our pizza the early crowd with children depart and are replaced by boisterous young people – it is possible that they are students. Then the DJ arrives and moves into a kind of tiled altar at the back of the bar where he can look out across us all while he is dishing up the beats. The place gets so crowded that extra staff are called in (it is just possible that they are students too), and the back room is opened up. Even so there are a lot of people sitting at the bar waiting for tables. This place is going off and I am inordinately entertained when the big table of young Asian women across from us all pull out their phones at once to photograph their pizzas. Sometimes I love Sydney.
The music is loud but not intrusive and Strop is enjoying the groove so much that she decides to go up and ask the deej what type of music it is, kind of like we are in a foreign country. This unexpected old-person move flummoxes the deej who at first tries to ignore her, but as you probably know, Strop is hard to ignore. Eventually the deej lifts his head from his computer long enough to explain that “It’s funk.”
Funk? Really? Are you sure? I mean it’s nice enough in it’s own jazzy groove way, but hell, it ain’t no James Brown.
When the pizza arrives, the crust is kind of miraculously thin, as if some kind of pizza dough magic is going on in the kitchen. However they do it, the results are highly edible, crisp and thin, with tonnes of flavour. The salad is very good too. We might be into triple-yum territory here.
We decide to go the cocktail route for dessert again. My No. 69 is overly sweet, leaving Strop’s Kinky Stallion to gallop away with the winner’s ribbon. Even so the cocktails aren’t up to the standard that we had been enjoying at Jester Seeds until recently, but then as Strop points out, these guys are still in business.
It has been a very good evening, spoilt only by the weather which decides to chuck it down again just as we leave.
Next up we cross Missenden Road to the Marlborough Hotel – our first pub and consequently our first burger. Can’t wait.