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Posts Tagged ‘fitzroy street’

“There’s a couple of specials on this evening as well,” explained Pelican’s Kiwi waiter, before launching into lengthy and detailed descriptions.

One was a salad containing quince, roquefort cheese, walnuts and leaves, the second a rather fancy fish platter featuring lightly battered oysters with a rich aioli, scallops and a couple of slices of sashimi topped with roe. Both sounded the equal or better of the dishes on the menu – and would compliment Fran’s favourite Pelican dish: the Moreton Bay bugs with hot chilli and garlic oil dressing.

Soon afterwards, the Kiwi returned to take our order.

“We’ll have the Fisherman’s Basket,” said our companion.

Everyone stopped. The waiter looked at him in mock horror.

“Did you just ask for ‘the Fisherman’s Basket’?,” he asked incredulous, as the table conjured images of rubbery, deep-fried, heavily battered and breadcrumbed, unidentifiable fish pieces on a mound of chips.

“Er…” replied the companion, chuckling with embarrassment. “I ust heard ‘cheese’ and ‘fish’ liked the sound of both.”

As he cleared away the last of our plates (by this stage emptied of meatballs, saganaki, bugs, quince, oysters, baba ganoush and the rest, all of which went down a treat), the waiter was still shaking his head.

“Fisherman’s Basket indeed.”

Still, by this time three bottles of wine had been polished off (the Sauvignon Blanc proving superior to the Reisling, much to Bruce’s surprise) so Mr Pub Grub enjoyed the ribbing. What’s more, he and his partner were extremely grateful to have been introduced to the Pelican, in Fitzroy Street, something of a St Kilda institution with its scattergun approach to tapas, wide selection of wines and great location close to the promenade – one of the few places Bruce and Fran miss since moving north (Banff pizzas, Mart 130 and the Taphouse pub in Carlisle Street the other major notables). And, come 2.45am, he wasn’t the one dropping his trousers on the Big Mouth dancefloor like a grinning 16-year-old leaving Fran to explain to the very friendly, but thoroughly bemused bouncer that, yes, unfortunately this man was indeed her husband.

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I did apologise to the newsagent for paying for my $2.20 Age with a fifty, but I’d just been to a twenty-less ATM so what could I do? He said it was no problem and handed me the change.

 

I’d also noticed the elderly man sat silently to his right behind the counter. He was a mean looking little bugger: a mess of grey hair sprouting wildly from either side of his cap, crabby, wrinkled eyes squinting out from dirty specs, his mouth obscured by a thick, dark moustache. I thought perhaps it was a spot of care in the community; bringing an old miser out of his four walls for a taste of life, however mundane.

 

“You can’t give him change for a fifty!” Suddenly he snapped into life. The newsagent, who I can only assume was his son, jumped as if someone had let off a firecracker behind him. “Give him his money back and take the paper off him.”

 

Speechless, the newsagent looked forlornly at the old man.

 

“Give him his money and take the paper back off him,” he said, the sniping continuing despite the weary pleading in his son’s eyes. “We’ve got the weekend ahead of us so you can’t be changing fifties. And it’s the grand prix.”

 

Obeying his father, the younger man sheepishly asked for the change back and handed back my $50. In a city where newcomers are struck by the friendliness of the locals, it seems a strange way to conduct business. At least the scabrous old git makes choosing which local newsagent to use that little bit easier.

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