It was a big night, the last restaurant on King Street, and I caught the wrong train. It would have been the right train if I’d left work when I had planned to, but we were farewelling three people from my office that night so the normal Friday drinks routine was a bit stretched. Anyway, I had intended to get the train to Newtown and walk down to St Peters for a bit of a reminisce, it seemed more apt than just crossing the road from St Peters station. More appropriate to the marking the end of the beginning. The Quest will continue, possibly as the reQuest or the beQuest, but this is the end of the original and best Quest.
Unfortunately though, I didn’t adjust my travel plans in response to my delayed departure, so instead of an indulgent stroll, I was rushing down the hill muttering about how St Peters seemed to be getting further and further away. Strop had already texted me to let me know that she was nearly at the pub for a pre-dinner drink. I got to the St Peters end not too late, striding past Pizza Picasso, and noting the table set up outside with a reserved sign on it, thinking that it must be for us because nobody else would be sitting outside a pizza joint in St Peters in the middle of winter. When I got to the traffic lights at the end of King St, I could see Strop chatting away to Ashleigh and Ned in the front bar of the Sydney Park Hotel.
Our party for the night was complete when Paul arrived a few minutes later. He had also been to a function, and like me was already a couple of drinks into Friday night. Paul, Ash and Nedsky, (Blossoming Lotus and Yenikoy) are neighbours and good friends, who live a short dog walk from us. We don’t see them as much as we used to now that our dogs are less agile, so it is good to have a chance to catch up on the Quest again. We didn’t hang around long at the Sydney Park. It is a hardline old-fashioned pub, tiles, taps, and fluoro lights. Although Strop would like to point out that it does serve wine by the glass at $4.50 – so presumably she’ll be going back. It is not exactly a hipster haven though. While a bottle of wine was being purchased, Ned took a sudden interest in the pool table, and Ash and I decided that someone needed to invent hipster darts for all the trendy pubs to go with the craft beer, and to give the bearded ones a new interest as they slide into middle age.
Across the road we were greeted by a very enthusiastic and happy host who directed us to the table I had seen earlier. Pizza Picasso is located in a new building with apartments upstairs and shops at street level. We were the only eat-in customers and were seated outside but off the street, in a kind of forecourt that leads to the entrance to the apartments. There is a bus stop just out the front so we always seemed to have an audience of people waiting for a 422 or a 370, as well as residents coming and going from their apartments.
We needed food quickly as Ned had to keep his strength up to play footy the next day and express his support for Adam Goodes by tattooing himself up with number 37. I didn’t really pay much attention to the ordering. I’m not really sure why, because I certainly wasn’t taking any notes. In the end we got three pizzas between us, as well as garlic bread. There was some issue about the pizza of the month that I never really understood. It seemed to be linked to a pizza ominously called the Thunder and Lightening, which came with jalapenos and pepperoni. As we were having a vegetarian outing, we got them to hold the pepperoni and replace it with mushrooms. The other pizzas were a vego version of a greek pizza with crumbled fetta and olives, and a kid-friendly margherita.
Paul works in television so the conversation dipped in and out of popular culture as viewed from the living room. There was some discussion about why Western Australia delivers so many bio-pic subjects. So much money, so few people possibly? I claim some expertise in this matter as the only one at the table who has never been across the Nullabor. We then moved on to the evolution of television comedy, holding out for a while against the gravitational pull of the conversational black hole that is Sydney real estate prices. Eventually though we gave in and started being astonished all over again, at the latest auction results. At the last minute though. we were able avoid complete disaster by veering away into the somewhat more interesting eddy of house repairs. Leaky roofs, leaky taps, and when to get a man in.
During this lull the garlic bread and the first bottle of wine disappeared. Paul was quick to react heading back to the bottle shop for reinforcements. Meanwhile, the pizzas started arriving. Ned had quite a time doing tricks with the the melted cheese, while the rest of us were being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the toppings – they were really good. The crusts were thin and light, and everyone else seemed to like them, but I found them a bit biscuity for my taste. The vego Greek was terrific, and the Thunder and Lightening was gratifyingly spicy even without the pepperoni. I didn’t get a chance to try the Margherita as Ned was keeping it tied up in cheesy knots.
We were pretty astonished when a Dominos pizza guy turned up with a delivery for someone in the building. Why? When you’ve got somewhere like Picasso downstairs, why would you choose Dominos. Sometimes I despair. Ned took it personally and started booing the guy.
We were looking forward to dessert. Ned had his heart set on gelato but they had run out, so Ash took him off on a sub-quest. They ended up across the road at Alberto’s. While Ned was having his gelato cravings quenched, Strop, Paul and I were enjoying a couple of saucy puddings. There was some disagreement about which was the better. Paul thought the chocolate was definitely best, but he was wrong. The banana was the definite winner.
It was a great night out, a really relaxed and enjoyable way to end the Quest. As we made our way back up the hill, through the Friday night crowds, Paul was busily reminding us what a great place we live in. Full of variety, full of life. He wasn’t wrong about that, but he was wrong about the pudding.