We’ve been away in Melbourne for a week, wedding the Stropette to the Heathen in a flowery and chilly open air ceremony, in which the Pancetta stole the show. But now it’s back to the serious task of eating our way to St Peters before we lose interest in this project.
This week we’re still on the Newtown Station railway bridge, but upstairs this time, at the relatively new Onyx Lounge. I arrived a bit early and waited next door in the Bank Hotel till Strop made her way up the hill. The front bar of the Bank is very noisy and crowded on a Friday night, so the chilled, calm vibe at Onyx was a pleasant relief, although I bet the owners would prefer the crowds that Bank pulls in. It was still quite early as we made our way up the stairs, and I wondered if we might be the only ones there. We weren’t, but they weren’t exactly crowded either. Onyx is dark and moody, with little red lights marking out the stairs, dark brown walls, low lights, ferns and a macrame room divider. The music is cool too, bass-heavy and jazzy. It is all just so chill. Strop liked it because we could actually hear each other without having to shout. There was a sign down on the street advertising live music later, so I was hoping that we would be able to stay awake long enough to hear a bit of that.
The staff were immediately present and attentive, directing us to a window table with views up Enmore Road. The other customers seemed to mainly be young and in pairs. My generalisation generator immediately went to work and I came up with the theory that Onyx was being used as a fairly safe first-date setting out point. I have absolutely no evidence to support this theory but I don’t care, they looked clean cut and innocent, at least for Newtown. There was certainly no evidence of hipsters, even though the fake ferns and macrame can only be seen as ironic. At least by someone of my generation, who of course invented macrame.
Onyx looks a lot like a restaurant, but the food is generally limited to bar type food with a bit of a Mexican-slash-Spanish flavour. There are share plates, pizzas, sliders (little tacos in this case) and burgers. We decided to put ourselves about the menu a bit, (while avoiding the burger-wars as Onyx is not an actual pub) choosing a latin themed pizza with chorizo, prawn taco sliders, and empanadas from the share plate menu. I opted to stick with beer while Strop went looking for a nice red wine by the glass. She started with a shiraz which she found too peppery then moved on to a pinot noir, which was more to her refined tastes.
The food arrived quickly, which was just as well because I was starving. The pizza topping was good but I found the crust a bit doughy and sweet for my taste. All the food was a bit disappointing which is a pity because I quite liked the vibe of Onyx. The empanadas and tacos were okay but nothing memorable. Oh well, it’s a bar, you come for the drinks not the food.
By this stage the live musician had arrived, complete with guitar and amps. Great, we thought, let’s stick around for some of that. So we decided to try a cocktail for dessert. I feel that we only have ourselves to blame for the result of this decision, even though the helpful waiter backed up our dumb decision. Based on very limited logic, we decided to have cocktails that incorporated ice-cream, because… well, dessert. This was a bad decision. They were sickly sweet, and they gave us brain freeze, and they got us more pissed. We had a lengthy discussion trying to tell which cocktail was the one that was supposed to have the salted-caramel, neither seemed particularly salty. Meanwhile the singer had no sooner set up all her gear, than she sat down to a hearty meal. I did wonder how she would go, singing straight after a meal like that, but then what do I know about the needs of starving artists. The meal was probably part of her pay.
Strop and I ummed-and-aahed a bit about whether to wait for the music to start. I think neither of us wanted to end the night on an ice-cream-cocktail-brain-freeze note, so we tried again. This time we kept it simple, Franjelico over ice for her, and a mojito for him. And they were good. And the music started, and she could sing. It was all good. We clapped. If the crowd had been a bit bigger Strop might have given her a whoop or two too.
Later we stumbled out onto King Street to find that some wag had been liberally deploying Joe Hockey masks. Who would have thought that someone in Newtown would take umbrage at something Joe said.
Next up its burger-wars time again as we leave the bridge behind and make our way to the Townie.