I had high expectations of this funky bar and restaurant, and booked in here with a group of 16 on New Years Eve. Kitsch resides in an old house that has been converted into a maze of interesting small rooms and sections, so you don’t have one massive area with one massive noisy crowd. Greeted by a young hipster when the first of our group arrived, he seemed incredulous that we baby boomers should be at this happening place. “You need a booking to get in” he managed to spit out. “Yep sunshine, we do have a booking” was our response. Fortunately we and he were rescued from further mortification by the arrival of another older hipster who knew what we were about and showed us to our table down the side of the bar adjoining the Re Store.
I loved the eclectic collection of chairs, cushions, plants and interesting decorations and lamps in this place. The wall murals are Asian-themed and are colourful and interesting. The montage of Asian ladies plastered on the main side wall was obviously a labour of love.
For $75, we were expecting an interesting and delicious Asian menu. All those Urbanspooners can’t be wrong, right? We had the set menu comprising nibbles, entrees, mains, sides and desserts. There were several pork options which I don’t eat, but the menu offered vegetarian options instead. Included in the price was a welcome drink of sparkling, or a cocktail made of pear cider. We also got a glass of sparkling at the midnight hour.
The nibbles were prawn crackers in paper bags, and spiced endamame beans in little bamboo boats. Nothing fancy but OK.
The entrees were spiced corn fritters, rice paper rolls with prawns, and pork nachos. The corn fritters tasted like nothing discernible – just pulp mashed into fritter shapes, and fried to a dark brown. Not a corn kernel in sight or taste. Corn, hello!! Are you in there somewhere? Apparently corn had scarpered.
The mains were lamb massaman curry, crisp pork belly, pork sushi and prawn or vegetarian noodle salad, with side dishes of steamed rice, wok-fried greens and tofu, and miso soup. As I don’t eat pork or lamb I waited on my alternatives to appear on the table. Whilst all my friends were chowing down on their pork and lamb dishes, I sipped my wine and supposed they would eventually remember me. They eventually did after about an hour had passed, and after we had reminded them 3 times. Steamed rice was served, but the other two side dishes of miso soup and stir-fried greens and tofu didn’t appear until 10.30, long after the mains had been finished.
Throughout the evening we had the most charming waitress you could wish for. She was so apologetic about the long wait times and the food mix-ups, and she unbegrudgingly took our complaints to the manager and kitchen staff with a smile. We also got a bottle of prosecco by way of apology for the food stuff ups. We tipped her generously at the end of the night, as she really had her work cut out for her with our large table.
I was hanging out for dessert to arrive, and it finally did, at 11.30pm. Actually, calling it dessert is very generous. It was a plate of cubes of 3 types of sweets. Cubes of green tea pannacotta (so gross that words fail me), cubes of salted caramel peanut parfait (yum), and cubes of mascapone and blueberry cheesecake (also yum). Now there were 2 cubes each allocated of each dessert; cubes less than 1 inch square. One tiny bite and it’s gone baby, gone. Damn! We just get to the good stuff and they tease up with a mere morsel.
Two foodie members of our group had sampled the food at Kitsch prior to making the booking and were happy with it. Maybe we just picked a dud night. Maybe the kitchen was overwhelmed by the packed house on NYE. Maybe the usual chef did a runner, and they had to ring in the second cousin of one of the wait staff who was alleged to have completed a commercial cookery course at TAFE in 1992. Maybe lots of things. But there’s no maybe about the quality of the food served to us on that night. To the management’s credit however, they offered us each a $25 refund on the total of $75 we paid for the evening.
Despite the food mishaps, we really did have a fabulous night. Sometimes it’s all about the company and the occasion, rather than the food. And prosecco and cocktails help. No complaints about the wait staff either; they did a valiant job in the face of complaints. Kudos to them. But a word to the baby boomers – don’t bother. This place really is too hip for the likes of us. I’ll keep searching for those places that love seeing a bunch of…… ahem…mature people gracing their premises.