Friday, August 27, 2010

Marching to the beat of your own

Farewells tend to be bittersweet occasions – the departing can be going home or to some exciting venture, while those left behind are left behind. But life being what it is, you’d have to be silly to not go out and try things, and take a few measured risks here and there – especially that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, however freaky it seems. Never mind the naysayers and niggling doubts at the back of the mind – it’s your life to live.

The menu at Different Drummer, Glebe Point Road, Glebe
A farewell for a Glebe local was fittingly held at a local Glebe establishment, with a happy hour-and-a-half to console those being left behind. Different Drummer is rather well known for its generous happy hour, with plenty of people there in time to take full advantage of it.

There’s an upstairs which was closed off for a hen’s night, a spacious back section which was reserved for a couple of private functions; leaving the front bar which was fully populated, and a narrow-ish corridor with three tables that led into the back section. We crammed our group onto one small table, scooting in when people needed to pass through us and the group standing in the walkway.

Cocktails at the red lit bar
It’s a small, moody place lit in red hues with underground tones, and generally loud and lively with a packed crowd of stylish, mostly twenty- and thirty-somethings. The liveliest section was no doubt the bar, particularly about 20 minutes before the end of happy hour. The hatted bar staff were plentiful although they seemed to have rather consistent three-deep queues nonetheless – perhaps due to the extensive cocktail list and the 90 minutes worth of two-for-ones.

Poolside Punch No. 4 cocktail
I start on the light sounding Frapple – vodka, Frangelico, apple and lemon juices – although the Frangelico was noticeably absent. A martini glass of apple juice later, it was later found in the Poolside Punch No.4 – white rum, Frangelico, mango juice and fruit garnishes – although both cocktails lacked a real ‘yum’ factor.

A glance at the time and it’s amazing how quickly 60 minutes passes by in the company of good friends, chatter and two-for-one cocktails. We’re down to our last 30 minutes (including wait at the bar) of happy hour, and the scrum at the bar starts to get slightly frantic. I hear cries of “20 mojitos”, but think our little group of five didn’t do all too badly as the minutes ticked down to 7.30pm.

Happy hour madness
Ferrying drinks back to our corridor table wasn’t too difficult, but talking and manoeuvring around a table of ten cocktails wasn’t the easiest feat, let alone clinking glasses above them all.

The Bloody Mary proves a winner, especially for the Bloody Mary virgins as the savoury combination of tomato juice, Tabasco sauce and pepper stand out from the general sweetness of the other drinks. The Moscow mule is light on ginger and lime flavour; the Ginger and Apple Cooler better for flavour and much like a soft drink; the Passionfruit Collins a girly favourite and the Caipirinha – untasted by me, actually.

Suffice to say, the drinks sustained us for a while longer, until the munchies kicked in. Luckily we’re rather prepared, as Different Drummer is both a cocktail and tapas bar. We elected the ‘Large Tapas Selection’ which offers a choice of six dishes from the tapas menu for $60.

Crumbed camembert, flash fried, served with water crackers and cranberry
The crumbed camembert is an automatic choice for our table of cheese fiends – a small crumbed wheel served with crackers, mixed leaf side and a sweet cranberry sauce. Whether it was the cool weather (although it was quite warm inside) or the camembert sitting a while, the insides weren’t as molten and oozey as I was hoping for, and thus not the full cheesy experience; although this could also have been on the part of the restaurant not serving dangerous, potentially scalding foods.

Salt and pepper squid - or not
In hindsight, I wonder if my order of salt and pepper squid was mixed up with the ‘golden fried calamari’ listed on the menu, as it did come with a mayonnaise or aioli of sorts. If it was mistaken, then I guess it was slightly better than I'm going to give it credit for.

I'm starting to think that salt and pepper squid is so prevalent on Sydney menus that the dish has lost its meaning – or rather, its flavours. Simply battered/ crumbed and deep fried coils of squid itself do not make for salt and pepper – it’s all in the seasonings. Tender squid is also paramount and this rendition misses the pass mark on both. It’s not super chewy, but you wouldn’t call it tender in any language.

Char grilled lamb brochettes with a Moroccan marinade
The unassuming lamb brochettes stole almost everyone's heart that night. Who would have thought three little chunks of meat on a skewer could be so soft,flavoursome and juicy? With just the right amount of cumin and seasoning, these four skewers were virtually free of fat or sinew, as tender if not more so than lamb cutlets, and simply to die for. As the last bare skewer returned to the emptied plate, I'm sure we were all wishing that we had more.

Steamed asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto, topped with fresh parmesan shards and bearnaise sauce
I blame the effect of four cocktails and reading in dark red lighting for this unexpected dish - I saw 'asparagus' and 'prosciutto' but nothing else. A bunch of steamed asparagus came wrapped in thick cut prosciutto where I was expecting spears of asparagus wrapped in paper-thin prosciutto. I think the dish was overcomplicated with both parmesan and bearnaise, as the latter added very little to the overall and the parmesan added saltiness to the already salty prosciutto.

Vegetarian risotto balls with salsa
I ordered risotto balls thinking some substance (read: carbohydrate) was necessary to soak up alcohol. These crumbed and fried balls of a quite tasty risotto were not too heavy nor cheesy/creamy, lifted by the sweet tomato salsa, and did a fine job in filling and soaking up. I can see these being potentially, and dangerously, moreish.

King prawns in chilli, ginger and white wine sauce
The final tapas of prawns was a little underwhelming; from its queer red hue to the utter sweetness of the sauce. I could certainly taste the chilli kick, subtle ginger and smoothing white wine in the sauce amid the sugar, but I don't think the nicely firm prawns needed all that sweetening.

Six dishes later, satisfied with bellies full of cocktails and food, it was definitely not easier to squeeze into our petite table. The place was still full and possibly louder than earlier, and the walkway remained filled although the bar was not quite at happy hour levels of activity.

We tarried awhile with some more drinks and conversation, as if we didn't want to leave or say goodbye. It was definitely a good night out and while it wasn't necessarily the farewell we planned, like life, it took its unpredictable path and we made our choices. After all, we all have our own drums.

Different Drummer on Urbanspoon


Simon Food Favourites said...

the only cocktail i get is the long island iced tea — powerful and yummy :-) i love their happy hour deal!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Farewells are always bittersweet. I can't think of a better way to commemorate any occasion than with food though :)

Tina said...

Hi Simon - As it was a long night, I didn't want anything too potent... ;) Next time though!

Hi Helen - And booze!


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