Buzzzbar seems a very relaxed place. When I arrived, a woman was just leaving, trying to pay her bill with a small dog under each arm.
After quite a bit of e-communication, we have been promised a largish group for tonight’s outing, but everyone else is running various kinds of late, so I am the first to arrive. Buzzzbar (I have to be careful to get the spelling right without falling asleep) is a big place, with tables and lounges and a back courtyard that opens onto a lane off Enmore Road. There are plenty of seating opportunities, but mindful of the group we are expecting, I nab the large lounge area. It is a bit too nippy to be sitting outside, and anyway it will be smokey. That is one of the problems with dining in Sydney, you can’t eat outside without having to put up with smoke.
The staff seemed very concerned that I had turned up by myself, and were disconcertingly attentive for a while – until I had ordered a beer and some chips. I told the waiter that I was part of a much, much larger group that would be arriving soon, but he tried to convince me that I should join another table anyway. I resisted, convinced that Strop and the others would not leave me in the lurch.
Eventually the others arrived, first Strop who wasted no time ordering a glass of something smooth and red. Then Linda, Sue and Julian find us, and lastly, we are joined by Matilda. This is the full complement, except for my brother Steve who is always a late starter.
Linda and Sue are aunts to Matilda, who is not-quite sister to the Stropolina. Julian used to be a local, but has defected to Melbourne now. The evening takes a short sci-fi detour when Julian lifts his shirt to show us the blood sugar monitoring device he has plugged into his side. “I’m not diabetic. I just wanted to try it out because my company makes them,” he said, showing the flat-line read out on the portable monitor that is linked wirelessly to the probe in his side. That’s dedication, that is.
Drinks are ordered and mistakes are made. Matilda is not drinking, which is a pity because she spent the rest of the night knocking everyone else’s drinks over. Linda and Sue ordered a bottle of shiraz from somewhere called Ram’s Leap which turned out to be eye-watering and drew unfortunate comparisons with Ram’s somethingelse, and a lame joke from mygoodself that involved crutching, and was poorly conceived at best.
Around about this time we moved to a proper table and started thinking seriously about food. The menu is fairly typical of pub/cafe fare. There is a From The Grill section, an intriguing From The Fried section, as well as a somewhat nostalgic From The Larder section. Under these headings there are burgers, steaks, schnitzels, lots of pastas, and some salads. In the end, our order ranges freely over the menu, with a couple of pastas, 2 bangers and mash, fish and chips, a burger and a schnitzel. Very democratic if you don’t count salad, which I often don’t.
While we waited for the food, conversation ranged far and wide. From the merits of the Bentley Continental GT as a form of transport to jazz venues and racist dogs. Somewhere during this interlude the Ram’s somethingelse ran out and was replaced by a much more pleasing Argentinian vintage. Dogs were a hot topic for a while, particularly Linda and Sue’s entertainingly loopy kelpie which, in the absence of wooly livestock at the local parks, makes do with cornering some hapless spadoodle and trying to eyeball it into submission. And we thought our dog was crazy.
There were nice tunes on the obligatory speaker system – everything from Hendrix to Duffy – but the atmosphere was spoiled a bit by the cigarette smells that kept wafting through, dragged inside by the flow-through ventilation. The courtyard space seemed to be very popular with teenagers, who seemed to be very interested in smoking in groups.
When the food arrived, everything came but the fettuccine carbonara, “It will be slightly delayed,” said the waiter, “as the chef has dropped it on the floor.” When it did arrive, it came with a poached egg on top, which seems to be a new trend according to my in-depth google research. My hamburger was good enough to hold its head up with the rest King St burgers, the bangers and mash were voted “Alright,” and the schnitzel “Fine.” There was no trace left of the fish and chips, but there was quite a lot of the fettuccine with prawns left, but this might have been because Matilda was so busy knocking things over.
In the end the food was kind of irrelevant. We were having a fine old time blathering away, (bulldogs vs pugs, Melbourne vs Sydney, Canberra hipsters – really?), and that is what Buzzzbar is all about. As we were getting ready to leave we were presented with complimentary homemade chocolate and orange truffle things on sticks. And they were extremely yummy.