28
Mar
17

Road Trippin’ Down Under: Sleepy Seconds

By the time the Jarhead had awoken from his nap, I had showered and fixed (literally) my hair, and was ready to take on the day. Since it was nearly 6pm by that point, there wasn’t much of the day left to take on, so we decided to head over to the waterfront in search of sustenance.

Fremantle Waterfront

That’s kind of our modus operandi. When we can’t think of anything else to do, we eat.

Unless we can’t decide what or where to eat, that is. Then we don’t eat. For hours.

If you think I’m joking, ask my kids. Or our friend Nancy. She once sat imprisoned in our car as the Jarhead and I tried to decide where to go for dinner one Saturday in 1993. She had the same reaction to that experience that she did after witnessing the birth of the Princess six months earlier: Never doing that again.

I can’t say I blame her. After discussing, debating, and eventually discounting nearly every casual dining establishment in south Minneapolis area only to settle for carryout pizza, I, too, was disgusted with us and questioning my reasons for staying in this relationship.

But we’re older now. And presumably wiser. Plus, it was getting late, and if we didn’t choose something we would eventually run out of time and either have settle for overpriced junk from our snack bar (shown below) or go to bed hungry.

Room Snacks

Under those conditions, I was sure we could find an acceptable place to have dinner, and make it back to our room before sunrise.

We crossed the Esplanade Park and Preserve and headed up Mews Road, vowing to stop and eat at the first place we both found acceptable. It went against everything we believed in, of course, and had a high probability of failure. The greatest threat to its success lay in the what ifs. What if we eat here and later find out we could have had something better/cheaper just a few blocks away?  What if we DON’T eat here, and then find out there’s nothing better/cheaper elsewhere? We had been burned by this strategy in the past, obviously, and were loath to try it again. But the clock was ticking, so we decided to give it a shot.

Our trip started, like any worthy quest, at a brewery. The Little Creatures Brewery, to be exact. Since the place was deserted and looked an awful lot like an actual brewery, we naturally mistook it for a brewery and gave it a miss.

Continuing up the street, we came to Cicerello’s. Offering a “unique eating experience in the heart of Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour” and providing not only “the best fish and chips” but also “freshly caught seafood, including oysters, mussels, crabs, and crayfish,” the place would have had me at hello. But for the fact that, even on a good day, the Jarhead is barely lukewarm when it comes to seafood, we might have stopped there. But instead we moved on.

Next up was Kailis’ Fish Market Café Waterfront.  This place had everything going for it that Cicerello’s had, plus cafeteria style seating and piles of freshly caught seafood on display and available for purchase.

In case you missed it, that was irony. The combination fish market and café may have been an attractive novelty for some but it was a definite deal-breaker for us since, one sure way to ruin the Jarhead’s already limited appetite for seafood is for him to see it before it becomes food.

The last option—or at least the last one that we could see due to the road blocks and other evidence of construction further up the road—was the Char Char Bull   Unfortunately, its décor and menu gave the place an air of hip elegance that posed a major threat to my self-esteem.

So back down the street we went, hoping to discover options that we had missed along the way but coming up with nothing new. Turning around again, we walked back up the street and wound up—again—at the Char Char Bull.

“At least we can get something besides seafood here,” the Jarhead observed as we read the menu on the door for the second time. Nodding, I took note of our reflections in the window and compared our hair and clothing to that of the patrons I could see inside. Noting that we looked less hip than the hippest people we could see but definitely more hip than the rest, I agreed to go inside.

And with that, our choice was finally made.

We had taken less time deciding to have a baby. And what to name him.

Nevertheless, we had come to a decision, and soon were being shown to a lovely table for two, which happened to be last open table by a window. Sa-weet, I thought as we took our seats. Then I wondered if maybe window-side tables were not considered prime real estate in Australian restaurants. Especially waterfront Australian restaurants. Maybe we should ask to be moved…

Fortunately, the arrival of our server halted that train of thought and put it squarely on the menu where it belonged. It was a much better journey, I concluded, as I took in words like:

  • mac and three cheese croquettes with spiced sea salt, Dijon and truffle mayonnaise
  • ciabatta loaf with whipped brown butter and sea salt
  • crispy tempura with wasabi tartare sauce
  • pork belly with sherry shallots, charred nectarine, almond skordalia, & vincotto
  • butternut pumpkin gnocchi

And the list went on and on.

We started with the mac and three cheese croquettes and some crispy calamari with watercress salad, white bean hummus and pomegranate dressing. I remember drinking wine as well, but since I drank much of it before any food came, I don’t remember what kind of wine it was or how it tasted. Given how well it went down, however, we can probably assume it was pretty damn good.

For my meal, I had an eye filet with smoky bourbon green peppercorn sauce and brown butter potato puree. I remember enjoying it very much, and wishing I could have tried everything on the menu while we were at it.

Meanwhile, since we were in Australia, the Jarhead decided to take the plunge and try the kangaroo loin. It was also served with brown butter potato puree, plus salt-baked beetroots, pearl onions, poached pear, and caraway jus.

To our surprise, the kangaroo loin was virtually indistinguishable from other high quality red meat. I don’t know what we were expecting, to be honest, but we were well and truly surprised. It looked and tasted delicious, but it was no better or worse than a venison loin or a good old-fashioned American T-bone or porterhouse steak.

By the time we had finished our meal—and our bottle of wine—we were both fit for nothing but our bed. And yet, our bed was about a half-mile walk through a chilly seaside park from our table in the nice warm, fireplace lit restaurant. So rather than get up and leave, we decided to delay our departure by ordering dessert.

That proved a mistake, as the Jarhead was soon snoozing lightly with his chin precariously perched in his hand, and his elbow precariously perched on the edge of the table. Oh my god, I thought, as I saw him through the sliver of an opening at the bottom of my own closed eyelids. Realizing that I, too, had fallen asleep, I shook my head a couple of times and took a good long drink of ice water.

“Hey you,” I whispered to my comatose companion as I looked around to see may have heard me snoring.  “Wake up.”

The Jarhead blinked a few times, then looked around guiltily and apologized. “They haven’t brought our dessert yet?” he wondered aloud.

“No,” I replied, although I wasn’t sure. They could have brought it over, found us asleep, and taken it away again for all I knew. But I wasn’t going to tell him that since doing so would have clued him into the fact that I had fallen asleep, too. “I was going to say something, but I don’t know how long ago we ordered it.”

“It’s been at least fifteen minutes,” he announced after looking at his watch. “I wonder what the holdup is.”

Looking around, it became clear that at some point between the arrival of the wine and end of our nap, the restaurant had gotten slammed. Not one table was empty, and the servers and other employees were racing around like bees in a hive.

It took us ten more minutes to get someone to stop at our table, and she did not have our dessert.

“We’re looking for our server,” the Jarhead told her.

“Do you need your bill?’

“No. We’re waiting for our dessert.”

Not sure how or why, but apparently our dessert had not arrived because our dessert had not been made. We learned this a few minutes later when our server came back to apologize and to assure us it would be out momentarily.

A few minutes later, the Jarhead was sleeping again, and I was fighting the urge to close my eyes as well. Knowing how hard it would be to get him on his feet and back to the hotel once he was down for the count, I scrambled toward the kitchen, and stopped the first person who looked me in the eye.

“Do you need your bill?” she asked.

Boy, these people sure wanted to get rid of us.

“No. I mean, yes. I mean, that depends,” I stammered. “We want to go, but we ordered dessert but it didn’t come, and now they’re making it and we really need to leave.”

At that point, she offered to pack the dessert to go and bring it to the table with the check. “I’ll do you one better,” I countered. “I’ll give you my credit card now and you can bring over the dessert and the slip for me to sign as soon as possible.”

Moments later, we were sleepwalking down Mews Road toward the park. Or sleepstumbling, to be more accurate.

By then the air had grown cold and the wind had picked up. I shivered and tried to use the Jarhead as a windbreak, but could barely keep my eyes open wide enough to see him as we made our way through the park and to the hotel entrance. Fortunately, it was enormous and well lit, or we might not have found the place, and would have ended dying of exposure in the park (assuming the spiders didn’t get us first.) Not exactly how I’d like to go, if it’s all the same to you.

Back in our room, the Jarhead quickly stripped down, got into bed, rolled up in the covers, and fell back asleep. Rejuvenated by the cold wind and the promise of chocolate cake, ice cream, and caramel sauce, I traded my clothes for pajamas, flopped down in a chair, propped my feet up, ripped into my dessert.

It definitely was not a pretty sight. The ice cream had melted and all that jostling had left it looking like something a child had created in the yard after a rain. But it was still cake, ice cream, and caramel sauce, and—thanks to jet lag and one lost order ticket—it was ALL mine!

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1 Response to “Road Trippin’ Down Under: Sleepy Seconds”


  1. 1 lopezsharon
    March 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Loved it! ☺ oh hey! I see that you called last night! Sorry I missed it – I was babysitting and must not have heard it over the four screaming banshees. ☺

    Hope to talk with you tonight!

    Terri Lopez
    Benefactor Engagement | Department of Development | Phone: (507) 538-4304
    e-mail: lopez.sharon@mayo.edu


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