With a two-day deadline to use the vouchers and the card of last year's Entertainment Book, I put together a half-hearted challenge to see how entertaining it could really be. The results are mixed, but the weekend was busy.
It starts with a voucher at Rouge Bar, smack in the middle of Australia Square and facing formidible competition from Ryan's Bar, particularly on a Friday lunchtime. Pretty standard CBD fare to choose from, sandwiches and an odd arrangement of pasta - select your carbs and then a sauce to match; hence the rather unusual marinara risotto.
By all accounts, it's lovely - in a tomato based sauce with quite a bit of seafood presence, rather nicely accessorised with deep fried sweet potato strips. Don't ask about the pepper dusting around the edge of the plate though.
My penne pasta looks promising too, the julienned beetroot kind of unusual but healthy, I thought. There's poached chicken pieces, vegetable bits, cheese shavings, and penne, of course. What there isn't is flavour - I can see that it's meant to be a tomato sauce, I just can't taste any tomato. The sauce (or what little of it there was) was watery and bland, rendering the entire meal quite insipid - which was slightly better than the service. Next.
The Crust voucher is one of the awesome value ones that two can get five or six meals out of - although that figure depends on how much pizza you can eat. The Mexican comes a few of man's favourite things - and by this I mean some of the boys I know. Chorizo, Spanish onions, jalepenos and chilli flakes with slightly more girly roasted capsicum on a refried bean base.
It came with one container of sour cream and another container of an avocado salsa, which had great flavours but I only wish it were fresher. This pizza is hot, even after I had pulled the green jalepeno slices off. I was torn between being beaten by the heat and how yummy the salsa was served on top.
My choice is the Philly steak: thinly sliced black angus roast beef, roasted red capsicum along with fresh varieties, more-ish caramelised onion, mushrooms, drizzled with a little too much dijon mustard and not quite enough rocket leaves - all on a tomato sauce base.
Pretty awesome the next day too, although I don't recommend microwave reheating. If you can't be bothered with the oven, I suggest using a sandwich press - but make sure the non-stick surface is still doing it's thing otherwise the cheese and dijon are going to make matters sticky.
To the card - one last time, though embarrassingly I only have four scratches on the back of the Gold Card. What a monumental waste, but not for lack of trying. There are a bunch of unexciting CBD options on there, loads of hotel restaurants and definitely nothing new. Foveaux was one I'd been meaning to scratch off, and in the typical nature of doing things at the last minute, here it was - post to come.
So there's no food or booze involved in the AMF voucher, but there are some pretty funky shoes. Well, not really. I never thought bowling shoes were cool, retro nor any other remotely positive word. Are they even necessary if you're not doing that pro slidey thing?
There's no beating ten pin for some guaranteed fun - I think so, anyway. I love it - it takes me back to younger, freer days and while I'm not superb, I don't need bumpers. I'm a bit of a lightweight so it's six or eight pound balls only. Even then I manage to strain my forearm a little - though I did forget to stretch. It is a sport after all.
Mid way through our first game, the lights dim, the neon lights start flashing and the music pumps up - it's apparently kids party time. Luckily they're right down the other end, so we can dance away as we please; celebrate like mad when we get a strike or spare; and not be tempted by overpriced hot chips, hot dogs, chicken nuggets or whatever else is deemed party food.
I have the highest score at the end of both games, but we're all winners as it's been a supremely entertaining weekend. Looking forward to seeing what new restaurants and establishments are included in this year's Entertainment Book.