Okay, that’s that out of the way.
Strop has taken to calling this part of King Street the doldrums. She feels that we are currently becalmed in an ethnically indeterminate sea of mediocrity. She may be right. Splash is certainly in keeping with the nautical aspects of this theory. We shall see about the rest.
It is just the two of us again. Strop did try to drum up a bit of company, but either the festive season or the doldrums themselves meant that everyone was suddenly very busy. Or it could be just us, I suppose.
Splash. Seafood, get it? I think this could be the only place on King Street that specialises in seafood, and it’s been around for a few years now so presumably there’s a market need that they’re filling. (Apropos of nothing much, we also noticed the first Froyo casualty. Had to happen – now that’s a market that is absolutely saturated.)
Strop gets her wish and we are allocated a table for two right in the window. So far in the window in fact, that we are almost outside. This is great, we have the moving picture show of King St on Friday evening to keep us entertained, with only slight drawbacks of deafening noise from buses and Ducatis, and the occasional tendril of cigarette smoke.
Right. Now we’re going to need some alcohol. Strop has noticed a special two-for-one deal on cocktails, but unfortunately the deal only applies to concoctions with hideous names that you wouldn’t drink unless you already had ten cocktails under your belt. We decide to forgo the offer and order a couple of full-price mojitos to go with our entrees of oysters and salt and pepper squid. The waiter regrets to inform us that unfortunately the “squid is off” – I think he means that they’ve run out – so we choose salt and pepper prawns instead.
The oysters and the prawns arrive first, and we are just starting to get a bit angsty about the alcohol shortage when the mojitos arrive (stay calm, it’s all going to be alright). The drinks are good. The prawns are very good. The Pacific oysters are rich and creamy, but a bit muddy tasting. Interweb research has since informed me that there is a seasonal variation in the quality of oysters which might be the issue. Strop queries the tattooed waitress about the origin of the oysters. “They’re Pacific oysters, so they’re from The Pacific,” she informs us. Right. The next time the waitress circles past, Strop engages her in conversation and in a very friendly tone points out that Pacific oysters are grown in different places, not just The Pacific. The waitress, now understands the nature of our query and pootles off to do some fact checking, only to return almost immediately and put our minds at rest by informing us that, “They’re Australian. They’re Pacific oysters, but they’re from Australia.” Pheww – thank god for that. I was worried that they might have been from Coffin Bay or Bruny Island or some other outlandish place.
For mains I have chosen barramundi with coriander, and sides of chips and salad, while Strop has gone for a seafood risotto. Seeing as the mojitos seem to have vanished we also order a bottle of Pinot Grigio.
The restaurant is not full but it is relatively busy. At the table next to us the waitress is telling her customers about her tatts. Apparently she is planning to get a couple more old-timey film stars to adorn her body. “Humphrey Bogart. And Gregory Peck, from Roman Holiday. Maybe Fred Astaire too. In profile.” I’m more surprised that she knows their names than that she wants their images inked onto her arms.
The barramundi and risotto arrive and are perfectly pleasant. The chips are good. The salad is mundane.
The couple at the next table have been more adventurous than us and have ordered a seafood platter, but when it arrives they have to call the waitress back to get finger bowls and something to put the shells in.
To me this sums up the doldrums. There is no sense that these restaurants are interested in giving their customers anything other than a bog standard dining experience. How hard is it to train your staff so they know something about the produce they are selling? It is not as if Splash is a cheap place. I understand that seafood is expensive, that’s fair enough, but when you are paying $100 for a seafood platter for two you should expect the people serving it to take a bit of pride in what they are doing. You shouldn’t have to ask for a finger bowl. It wouldn’t take that much effort to make these places a lot better. But maybe no one cares.
Next up we sail back across the street and into cafe land at Citrus.