I think you might have misinterpreted my order.
You see, I ordered the ‘Cauliflower Steak’. Y’know, the hunk of land mammal with a bit of veg; a traditional delicacy often served at the local sports bar?
What do you mean, ‘this is vegan‘?
You’re telling me I haven’t been served with something that once communicated in moo?
No wonder you gave me that weird, judgey look when I placed my order for a meal prepared medium-rare.
I’m starting to get a little concerned. Can you tell me where I am?
Fish Lane Bistro? Part of The Fox Hotel?
Is this like, one of those Tur-Duck-En situations? Why don’t you just pick one animal, stick with it, and then serve it to me on a plate.
A process of elimination tells me this is not The Fox Hotel – at least, not the one that’s home to blotchy memories of Sunday arvys spent stumbling up that God awful staircase and waking up the next morning with splintered hands.
I started to feel hot with hanger.
I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed a fist full of steak knife, hacked out a chunk of the so-called ‘steak’ (more like fake, amirite?) and shoved it into my face.
‘Look, buhdgee,’ I managed to spit through aggressive chews.
‘Yawh faeyke-ash akshent hahsz me kweshuning my geografikl co-ordinash (“am I just off of Melbourne Street or une rue de Paris,” I pondered) and quite frankly-‘
I paused, raised an index finger to his face and squinted as I gurgled down a finely-chewed mouthful.
‘- between that and the hunk of white plant that is occupying the portion of plate where I expected to see a carcass, I’m tired of being lied t..’
Something came over me. The room started spinning. I looked down at my plate.
It was glowing, twinkling, glistening, sparkling.
‘Mon cherie,’ I whisper.
I admit that I was very apprehensive when placing an order for a main course of vegetable.
At first I thought to go for the Barra, so at least I’d be getting a bit of protein and something substantial, but my personal vendetta against paying more than $20ish for a very basic and seemingly unadventurous specie of fish threw a snapper in the works.
After all, at this point I was still under the impression that I was dining in a pretty sub-standard, pub feed environment (and after receiving word that the grand specialty of this establishment used to be meatballs, my lowest expectations were now firmly inset).
Suspicion and doubt clouded my mind as I observed the rest of the prices. Alas, similarly to the questionable thought process of a desperate stoner who, with a little more effort, could easily get more bang for his buck, ‘yolo’ is the only memory I have of that impulsive decision to pay $25 for a plant with a current MP of $4 at Coles.
I chuckled, thinking how naïve I once was to have been so disgusted by the thought of coughing up $7 to a supermarket for an entire head of cauliflower while it wasn’t in season, let alone $25 for a slice.
My dining partner followed my order by asking the lamb shank pie. Prematurely overwhelmed with food envy, I moved swiftly to make it clear that she would not be enjoying that order all to herself.
We agreed to try each other’s meal.
But this agreement never came to flourish.
You see, pricing disgruntlement aside, I was finding more and more reasons to make this dish last as long as possible with every bite I rewarded my tastebuds with.
The flavour that erupted in my mouth was not an experience I intended to share. The price may have left a sour taste, and the words ‘cauliflower’ and ‘steak’ alongside each other may have created the idea of a savoury menu selection, but overall this decorated slice of vegetable was nothing short a sweet dream.
Dates and currants added a rich flavour and smooth texture that delighted my senses with every soft (I may have exaggerated on the aggression in my totally unfabricated preamble) chew. I legitimately could not believe this was cauliflower, or that it could be so creatively prepared to make it worthy of a main meal at a restaurant.
I can still remember the happiness that nourished my soul as I savoured every bite of sweet, flavoursome, delightful chewiness.
Although I may have been passively buzzing from the smell of (what I presumed to be) a delicious lamb shank pie that was wafting across the table:
I was thoroughly impressed with what had turned out to be a perfectly adventurous selection.
I was even more impressed with Fish Lane Bistro for pulling off the transformation of such a simple ingredient into such a creative, vibrant and exotic vegan dish.
In fact, this may have been the tastiest $25 plant that I’ve ever purchased. That’s saying something.
Tucked into the bottom corner of The Fox Hotel, Fish Lane Bistro is the French-inspired restaurant which certainly draws a defining line in the pavement between their mesmerizing, immaculately twirled ‘staches and the frothy, bushy beards yelling at televisions next door.
From descriptions of menu items that make you feel exquisite merely contemplating them, to tables that are fitted with wine-bottle-holders (look, go easy on me, k? The only language I’m fluent in is ‘Strayan), and finally putting a shiny glaze on the croissant with a splash of fancy accents, this establishment offers a memorable and delicious experience which is certain to cater to the dining tastes, requirements and styles of most.
If I was to take an uneducated stab at recommending a venue for a Tinder date that was classy, but not enough to be awkwardly OTT, I’d probably suggest bringing your match here. But since this is something I know nothing about, I can at least vouch for it being a great location to enjoy a catch up with a friend over a drink or two.
It’s quaint, cozy and quiet enough to hear your date/buddy talk, but if a rowdier environment is more to your style, you needn’t hesitate over a few swigs straight from the wine bottle. With that aforementioned inbuilt bottle-holder, it won’t be knocked over any time soon.
Although I joke about the steep price for a slice of cauli, the cost was actually not that bad – especially considering the pleasure I had in devouring this fabulous combination of tastes.
Obviously you’re going pay more to dine out than you will in your own home, as you are paying for all the costs involved in someone else preparing a meal for you. It’s pretty ‘duh’.
The actual food is generally not the most expensive ingredient in the recipe for a great meal enjoyed at a restaurant. Other main menu items range from $25 through to $34, but if the standard of my meal was anything to go by, you can be sure that the cost of quality control in staff training and employment is certainly accounted for.
But again, the prices really aren’t bad at all. The meals were big and absolutely filling, the food was tasty, the staff were as extremely helpful as well as they were knowledgeable and friendly, and the restaurant was decorated to provide a comfortable and cosy dining experience.
Overall, Fish Lane Bistro has me hook, line and sinker. I will definitely be returning – though, I’m feeling a little anxious thinking about what I’m going to order next time.
Words by Jess Morman
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*disclaimer: HITW makes no apologies over cheesy or corny undertones.