It's a Saturday afternoon, and sadly Jeremy and I are starving at a rather inconvenient time. We're thinking of waiting until 6pm to go to Clarences to eat but when we call up to book, they tell us that the only free table they have is at 4.30pm (yes this place gets completely booked out). So we rush down and take them up on this offering (can you blame us!).
As we arrive the bar area is in full swing already. Rosy cheeked girls with beautifully glistening glasses of red wine are accompanied by men with beers in hand. It seems everyone here is gorgeous - though it could be an optical illusion since I'm feeling crippled by my hunger.
We focus on the snacks and small goods portion of the menu since it's not quite dinner time, knowing we'll be hungry again at a more suitable time.
The meal starts off with the Porcini Arancini & Feta Whip ($12.50). It's three arancini balls heavy in their mushroom taste and with a crispy panko crumb on the outside. They give a satisfying crunch as we bite down into them. The feta whip is reduced and melted feta cheese smeared across the plate. It's a new way for me to experience this cheese but tastes really nice.
The Fresh Baguette and Cultured Butter ($5) is four pieces of crusty fresh baked bread. It's crunchy on the outside and doughy on the inside. You can definitely tell that it's been made that day and I'm thankful for it. And that butter... wow, wow, wow. Yes I know I'm a massive fiend when it comes to this dairy product, but this is great. It's creamy and rich and just phenomenal. I want to break into the kitchen and steal the whole box of this stuff.
Fresh bread and butter
The Chorizo and Lemon ($8) is a stock standard tapas item and tastes as good as I'm hoping based on the previous two dishes. The lemon squeezed over the top of this meat creates a zingy freshness and elevates the natural flavours. I'm glad they haven't over grilled the meat too as so many kitchens can do - which just leaves the chorizo tough and unimpressive. The only downside is that the serving is a little on the small side.
The Marinated Feta ($8) comes out at the same time and is four large blocks of feta that's been extracted from oil. It's very creamy and crumbly in texture; decorated with micro herbs. As a dedicated cheese addict, I'm obviously in heaven at how amazing it tastes.
Though you would think we'd learnt our lesson with the never ending chip bowl at The Garden only days before, we fall back into greedy habits. I can't remember if it was Jeremy or myself who suggested we order the Spiced Chips ($8) but that was how we ended our meal. They come with a small serving of both tomato sauce and aioli. The spices used on the chips are nice but a bit too mild for what I was expecting. But the chips are crunchy and the sauces delicious. It's a really nice way to round out our late afternoon meal.
Clarences impresses. Every time I'm here I love it more and more. So that just encourages me to come back again and again - though I'm smart enough to book way in advance!