Lygon Street and beyond

>Our slow food appetites sated (for now), we headed off again on the bus, inspecting our purchases and reading from Mena’s Australian Countrywomen’s Association Book of Cooked and Uncooked Slices. There were no less than three Cherry Ripe slices to choose from.

We hopped off at the top of Lygon Street and Sam marched us all into Percy’s Bar. It wasn’t until we saw the footy on the TV that we realised what all the rush was. It is week one of the 2006 Finals, which is sort of the quarter-finals onwards. All very crucial games of course, especially in footy-mad Melbourne.

Percy’s is an old-fashioned bar, with little room for more than a U-shaped bar, lots of bar-stools, a TV in the corner, the local character in the other corner, and a well-endowed pretty barmaid. But this is Little Italy: the men at the bar avidly watching the footy were not sat in front of pints of beer. On the bar in front of each of them sat an ice bucket or wine cooler, with a nice bottle of white wine. Or in the case of the burly Mafia-looking bloke beside Mena, a lovely fruity sparkling rose in a pretty Mateus Rose type bottle. A refreshing look at masculinity in the twenty-first century, we thought.

Onwards and upwards to Jimmy Watson’s Wine Bar, a Melbourne institution. We only stopped for a quick drink. A few tables inside were taken up with people long past their lunch and unable to drag themselves home. Outside in the small leafy courtyard a bunch of student-looking people sat around an obscene number of bottles of wine whilst we sat and reviewed the day and rested our tired feet for the walk ahead.

Enoteca Vino Bar is at the far end of Lygon Street, past the main strip, north past Jimmy Watson’s and Percy’s, further beyond the council flats and the new university digs, a few minutes’ walk past the cemetery. It was worth the wait.

Enoteca Sileno next door started out as an importing company, bringing the finest Italian wines, artisan-produced pastas, olive oils and numerous other Italian goodies to Melburnians. They opened Enoteca Vino Bar next door in mid-2004.

We entered through the shop itself, with high shelves stocked full of wine, pasta, olive oil, and other Italian specialities. Our table for ten was in private corner around the back with some more friends of Sam and Amanda’s. There we feasted on assaggini (the Italian version of tapas) including the most delicious whitebait any of us have ever eaten, and some amazing wines by the glass, mostly Italian.

My choice was a lovely Sardinian red, not too robust. Mena chose a rosé which was served unchilled but was no less enjoyable for it. Orlando started with a glass of proseccho which tasted incredibly sweet. The waitress noticed after some time that he wasn’t touching his glass, and volunteered another sparkling wine she thought might suit him better. Now that is what I call good service.

Our main courses were beautiful, and beautifully presented. My seafood linguine was served in a baking paper package, which was unwrapped at the table in front of me. As a result all of the flavour was trapped inside. Divine. Mena’s slow-roast lamb looked and smelled delicious, and there was a mountain of it. Orlando’s spatchcock was well-seasoned but a little dry, he said.

All in all it was a perfect Slow end to a perfect Slow day. We hopped on the tram outside the door and stopped off in Hairy Canary, a favourite haunt of Mena’s, for one for the road. Home again on the train after almost exactly twelve hours of celebrating good food, good wine, and good friends. What more can you ask for?

One thought on “Lygon Street and beyond

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