Friday, February 25, 2011

St Peter's

Saint Peter's is tucked away in a tiny alley not far from work (the Spring Street end) and next door to the Kelvin Club, one of the city's nineteenth century gentleman's clubs. Being named after Lord Kelvin, I've always imagined it full of aged, bearded men arguing the merits of Darwin over the cheese course while recruiting drinks bearers for an expedition to Lake Titicaca. Don't tell me it's now genteel lunches with academics, lawyers and politicians - I don't want to know.

St Peter's is, not surprisingly, a seafood restaurant named after the Bible's most famous fisherman. By the time we'd found it I'd already used the name of the Bible's most famous carpenter once or twice in frustration, but it is there and it can be found. Fishing has always been a great source of metaphor, whether it's fishing for fish or souls. "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach him how to fish and he'll eat forever" is a great one, although better is "Light a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day; set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

Seafood, white tablecloths and a interior style best described as "soft industrial" are the dominant themes, back up by attentive, knowledgeable staff and a lovely wine list. There are some decent wines by the glass (a lunchtime necessity) and a chaise lounge in the toilet. Joined by companions M and R, we tried one or two or three of the glassed wines and all proved a jolly addition to our luncheonette.

John Dory and his inexplicable disk of crab

Entree was relatively quick. R's quail was served with its sweet little ankles crossed and wrapped in pancetta, while M's yabby gyoza were more tortellini than gyoza, but not at all bad for it (albeit with a salt deficit). I had kingfish carpaccio which was more sashimi with a vin santo dressing - it was lovely but came with superfluous pink grapefruit micro-chunks that were just a bit too much for the fish.

M described her steak as good enough, but definitely flavour over texture, while R's seafood risotto
was disarmingly inoffensive. I had pan fried Dory fillets with asparagus and a disk of crab meat. The fish was nicely cooked and the crab meat was, well, to paraphrase Tom Lehrer speaking of Gilbert and Sullivan, "full of words and music and signifying ... nothing."

Saint Peter's offers bistro food
in a discrete environment. All in all it was rated a big, fat Illusion of Lunch "OK", and that OK is seasonally adjusted to take into account their "50% off in February" promotion, which saw the food bill cut in half. The food was good without being great and at half price was just good value.

Wonderfully, walking back to work we met some colleagues escaping the annual fire drill. No point going back straight away to climb the many stairs - time for a palette cleansing ale perchance?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Origin myths

'"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

"Very deep," said Arthur, "you should send that in to the
Reader's Digest. They've got a page for people like you."'

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.

The illusion of lunchtime is always great, but it's greater when crammed into a single hour in the midst of the working day. Over a bowl of perfect dumpling soup an hour can leap and scamper, but an arrogantly pre-prepared sandwich from under glass can stretch time greater than light-speed travel. This collection of words, and the occasionally badly lit photo taken surreptitiously with a telephone, will try to capture the temporal distortion that only food can create in the middle of the day.

I work in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia; a city replete with opportunities for lunch, coffee and good food. If I remember to make a sandwich or bring leftovers I will, but I'm not a morning person and having at least one meal prepared by someone else is a particular joy. This won't be just a series of restaurant reviews or a Guide To Getting A Decent Sandwich - I hope it's much more than that. It will be about sharing food with good friends and moving into the afternoon knowing one is fueled, and more importantly, fulfilled. It will also build on my last contributions to words about food, Eat Our Way Up High Street.

Posts won't be limited to lunch - I do eat other meals and I do cook and I do have a life, so as often as not I'll be sharing things you might have an interest in. Cheese will almost certainly get a mention, at least until I get around to having my cholesterol checked, as will things I haven't thought of yet but will want to throw into the pot at some later stage. It will be driven as much by the love of words as the love of food. I promise not to talk pretentious rubbish or complain when the consomme Nesselrode isn't just *so*. I will, however, talk rubbish about, well, anything really.

So there we go. Sit back, pour a drink and, I hope, enjoy. Smoking is permitted on the balcony and the fish of the day is definitely worth a go.