Ok ... what is fast turning into a regular thing, me and JD had another girl's catchup and checked out the revamped Builder's Arms to see how much of an alchemist Andrew McConnell is. You may wish to check out my posts on Cummulus Inc here, and Cutler and Co. here.
The Builders Arms used to be a regular Thursday night haunt many many many moons ago. It was the venue for Q&A - the queer and alternative night and my hangout till it jumped the shark and played the Spice Girls!!
Then it turned into some kind of space aged barbarella george and mildred retro hybrid with average food and even less average staff. You may wish to read my thoughts here.
Now all that try-hard excess has been stripped right back to bare boards and white walls which are pending some special artworks as we are reliably informed by our mutton-chopped maitre'd. And areas are being sectioned, although the flow isn't quite there yet so you need help navigating the space.
But here's the lowdownhoedown - you have your bar area (not that many places to sit at so you're screwed if its packed) where the menu is restrictive and consists mainly of snackage.
Then you have your restaurant area, with a fuller dining menu, but it doesn't take any bookings, only walk-ins ... and you already know my opinion on that subject!
Come July, another section of the old pub called Moon Under Water, will have a separate bar and menu (I gather this is the posh end of town, so to speak) which will take bookings.
And finally 2 areas upstairs for private parties, the smaller of which is a corner room with windows looking out onto good ole Gert, complete with a turntable for you to spin some "choons" (I'm loving this btw) and a minimum spend of at least $2500 if taken on any night from Monday to Thursday - a higher rate on the weekends obviously - and comfortably seats 16 - you could squeeze in more, but best to bring your own protection.
Right, but whats the pull and attraction, its, as with every other McConnell joint, the food. If you're going to bitch about prices because its a pub ... stop reading now ... and really why are you reading this blog anyways? Yes its a gastro-pub, get over it ... like Jessie J says "am I the only one getting tired".
So after downing a Cotes du Rhone by the glass, we eschewed the Bar Snacks menu and headed to a table in the Bistro. JD as mentioned previously is vego, but thankfully eats seafood.
So we opted for 2 appetizers, 2 entree sharing plates, one main and a bowl of chips (obviously!). And we said Pshaw! to our waitor's suggestion of having something green.
The first thing brought to the table was the Whipped Cod Roe. I know its not wise to peak so soon but this was to die for!! And a definite must order when you come here. It was smokey, salty, unctuous and rich, but not overpoweringly so.
I'm afraid that the Smoked Curd, Crudite and Pomegranate paled in comparison somewhat. We may have had a different opinion if this had come to the table on its own. Still the accompanying baby veg was cooked or rather uncooked to perfection. And not a microfuckingherb in sight! Brilliant.
The first of our entree plates was the Smoked swordfish with capers, dill and apple. Again fresh and exciting flavours and those tiny little capers provided just the right balance of piquancy.
But it was our 2nd entree plate that pretty much stole the show ... and guess what the main ingredient was ... carrots!! Who would have thunk that such a boring vegetable (ok in my books anyway) could taste so amazing. We had the Organic Carrots served with harissa, almonds and barrell aged fetta. The harissa was suitably spicy but not overpoweringly so You could taste the almonds, the sweetness of the carrots and the salty hit from the fetta. I would not have imagined in a million years that I would be recommending something as pedestrian as carrot ... but this is another must order. Trust me!!
Finally, for a main we had the Wild Barramundi served with cauliflower, burnt butter (Maggie would have creamed her jeans) and lemon. Try and imagine the softest fish you have ever tasted, melting like cream with each mouthful ... you're only halfway there. This was so beautiful words cannot describe the texture of the fish and the freshness of the flavours. With cooking this good, I can't wait to go back and work my way through the entire menu.
You may or may not have noticed that I didn't mention dessert when I did the menu roundup at the start ... well Fait Accompli peops Fait Accompli!!
For Dessert we had the Poached meringue with frozen curd and sour quince jelly ... I know ... me and quince right?? Not exactly besties ... but then again I was even willing to go the Chocolate Prune pudding ... I just can't say No to JD. And what was the dessert like well it was ............... did you get that? That was the sound of someone eating and telling you to fuck off with your "goes without sayings".
Go Go Go!!
And here's Q&A Jumping the Shark: