169 King Street
By Becca Johnstone
As soon as I walked in to Madame Fling Flong I knew this was a place that I was going to dig. First and foremost it was empty! Dylan Moran once said, “there’s nothing more enjoyable than an empty bar,” a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with I’m afraid. I must stress, it wasn’t empty because of anything lacking, more that we were the first people through the door on a Wednesday afternoon. We got a good feel for the place, very retro, very funky, dotted with all too welcome mix of Victorian and 70’s lounges. All that with a killer cocktail list and jazz standards in the background…. Oh yes, this is Becca’s kind of place.
The air-conditioning provided some much needed relief from a sweltering King Street at the peak of summer, but our saviour came in the form of the daily special: 1 jug of Pimms and Lemonade for a mere $18. The pitcher arrived glistening, full of mint and orange and as is the danger with Pimms, easily slurped by Danny and I. The jug served us three glasses each, and was just what the doctor ordered for that muggy afternoon.
The cocktail menu was inspired. As a cocktail gal, I sincerely felt a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole. Brilliant names and flavour combinations jumped out, such as ‘Hunny Bunny’ – guava, peach Schnapps, lychee liqueur and Cointreau. Being a ginger fan I couldn’t go past ‘Little Miss Ginger’: white rum, ginger wine, triple sec, lime juice and honey syrup. And there was a host of others that tempted such as Raspberry Truffle, Tortuga Queen and the elusive jug of Back Porch Lemonade… but someone had to remember her Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate and not get carried away! Admittedly, they do all sound a bit female driven, but all of the classics were there as well. I saw a Tom Collins being made with Tanqueray and was rather envious of the hipster patron it was going to.
The wine was an interesting mix of local and imported options, from France, Spain, Argentina and Italy – with only one or two options per varietal. A few familiar local names, Willowbridge SSB and Cable Bay Marlborough Sauv for example. But all in all the white selection seemed better than the reds. The selection was larger in general, and nothing really seemed to jump out at you from the red side of things. Local beers were available but there was again a push for some imports – the well known’s of Becks and Kronenbourg, and a couple I’d never heard of, Schofferhoffer (I just like saying the name) from Germany and Cintra from Portugal. Fun to say and to drink I’d imagine!
Feeling a bit peckish, we decided some tapas was in order. After we had made our selection, the first to come out was a steaming plate of Patatas Bravas – a favourite classic between us tapas lovers. They were rich with garlic, and had quite a firey tomato sauce. A very generous serving, blisteringly hot, so eager were we that I’m sure a few minor burns were sustained – but definitely worth it.
Next out was a plate of Haloumi, grilled, doused in olive oil then finished with fresh oregano. I’ve never been to Santorini, but I imagine this is what it’s like. The Haloumi was primo, juicy and oozey – not like some that you get that have that ghastly, bouncy textutre to them.
Immediately following was a plate of polenta cakes, one each flavoured with parmesan, tomato and spinach and basil. Each topped with toasted goats cheese and toasted pine nuts. I’m a classic kind of girl, so the parmigiano one was my fave, while Danny preferred the tomato. I felt the spinach/basil was just that bit too metallic, and somehow the texture didn’t seem as right as the other two. They were still some very tasty morsels that did a good job of soaking up some of the Pimms.
In a quick succession out came our prawns and a plate of chorizo. The chorizo was simply grilled, olive oiled and served with a small side of pickled vegetables. The chorizo was quite firm and well made – though I could have done with a little more heat. I’ve never had pickled vegetables with chorizo before, even though there is constantly an enormous jar of them in my fridge. It was a surprisingly delicious accompaniment. The sharp vinegar flavour of the crunchy vegetables contrasted really well with the oily, smokiness of the chorizo – something I’m definitely going to replicate at home.
The dish of the day had to be the Manzanilla prawns though – large king prawns that fried with garlic, saffron, I think a bit of sherry vinegar and some tarragon. The prawns were exceptional – but I haven’t had a bad one all summer, what a great season it’s been! They just carried so much flavour and were so juicy and sweet. And again, a generous serve – 4 prawns, but 4 mammoth prawns! I certainly would have paid at least $20 for that as an entrée in a restaurant, and happily!
The best part of the day came when we went to pay the bill – I noticed that a jug of Pimms and 5 tapas dishes came to a whopping $58. For me, that’s an absolute bargain – especially given the quality we were presented with. I can highly recommend Madame Fling Flong, have a chat to the staff and be sure to check out the funky bathrooms. Just get in early, before the trendies come and take it over!
Overall rating: 4/5
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