Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The Harp

This is me sharing a beer with my missus at our local, The Harp in Tempe.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


There exists an unspoken social contract when you visit a restaurant that promotes itself along the lines of a specific culture. When I visit the local German club I expect to see leather clothing, drink wheat beer and eat pork sausages. The service should be efficient yet indifferent. Only Thai restaurants are exempt from this rule.

Recently FAG visited the Russian Coachmen. A Surry Hills institution located on the tree lined Bourke St (East Redfern side). I actually lived about a block away in 1996 and have longed to visit this place. It didn't disappoint.

The visit started without Emily's booking being recorded in the rather large but sparce diary. The fit dude with short cropped hair said it wouldn't be a problem as the restaurant was empty. A falsehood as later in the night was to prove.

As you can see from photo above, the place had a sort of boudoir quality about it. There was a lot of red velvet to recline against. The lighting was non existent and I think they were trying to save a few rubles by not heating the place. The live entertainment was not provided, "not enough bookings". So we were entertained by the ambience created by the giant plasma screen blaring out indian pop and our own stumble towards drunkness.

We debated the economics of buying a bottle over individual glasses of vodka. It cost about the same either way but the opportunity to order a bottle of vodka seemed to match the spirit of dinner at a Russian-themed restaurant. The order was made and a second request by the reluctant Phil saw the crisp bottle of Polar Bear vodka appear.

We encouraged from the bar to our table by the lovely, yet laconic waitress from Odessa. Her response to "How's the veal come?" was "Veal. It's veal.".

The food was salty and rich in fat. Entrees of pickled herring, with roasted potates, vegetables drentched in mayo/cream and a lovely smoked salmon salad. Sorry I can't forget the meat dumpling dolped with cream.

Meat filled main courses were consumed. A couple of people had the beef stroganoff (yes more cream and meat!), Renjit and Mitch had the meet and cheese. Another bottle of vodka was downed. Desert was either bavoiris or crepes. We were kinda sloshed now. It's seemed that the contract with Russian Coachmen had been fulfilled. The bill was paid.

Nearby a bunch of Russian youngsters, enjoying a banquet, turned their attention from becoming well-pickled to us. Words were exchanged, tomotoes were thrown, Boris Yeltsin and Putin were used to insult and inflame. Biffo was barely avoided.

Standing outside the gaudy facade of the Coachmen the mood of the Fagsters had changed. Reminiscences were quickly shared. Hurried farewells were said and taxi's were jumped into. What a night.