I was going to start this entry on the current economic conditions by using that tired old cliché, anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock will know all about what’s happening in the financial markets at the moment. However, I reckon that statement is rather inaccurate because I think that even hermits who live under rocks and on remote Pacific Islands where there is no TV, internet, newspapers etc would realise just how bad the global economy is.
The crisis means that essentials such as petrol and food are more expensive (as if they weren’t already expensive anyway) and discretionary spending on pretty bags, clothes and shoes should be kept to a minimum (I say “should” because I know a lot of girls spend spend spend anyway, no matter what!). Even I had to cut back on my fine dining adventures, opting to use the weekends for catching up on some reading (i.e. frantically reading the 9th book in the Gossip Girl series a day before it’s due back at the city library), going to the gym (I may not have lost that much in terms of overall body weight but I am finding it easier to fit into clothes that never used to fit me and I don’t feel sluggish as often) and renting foreign movies for free at city library. While I’m hoping to do Giuseppe, Arnaldo and Sons in two week’s time (edit: idea scrapped, it looks like either Il Bacaro, Seamstress or Trunk), Silks on Nov 21st (18 month anniversary, you see) and perhaps squeeze The Botanical in there somewhere, it’s going to take a lot of planning and budgeting to be able to dine at those places. Damn you financial crisis.
Just because I don’t have as much money to spend on food, however, doesn’t mean that I must resort to eating toast or two minute noodles every day. Sure, you might not be able to eat yum cha once a month like you used to (maybe once every 2-3 months) and sure, you have to think twice before spending $30 on a mid-week buffet lunch with your colleagues but it doesn’t mean that you must suffer. Living in Melbourne means that you are always surrounded by a plethora of decent restaurants and cafes, and the good thing is that not all of them command a huge bill at the end of your meal either. A fine example of a place that does food really cheap is Bimbo Deluxe on Brunswick Street.
Established by the same team who gave us Lucky Coq, BD appeals to those who are tight arses careful with their finances. Their menu only consists of cheap pizza and alcohol, which is why students love places like this. On a regular Saturday afternoon, pizzas cost somewhere between $6.50 and $9.00 but if you visit during certain times such as Thursday night, it’s $4 per pizza. Not bad huh? I doubt you can even buy a cup of coffee at Bistro Vue with $4, much less a satisfying meal that’ll leave you full for hours afterward.
Adam ordered the Agnello ($7.90), a dinner plate-sized flat-crust pizza with the basic foundation of mozzarella and tomato, topped with a sounds-weird-on-paper-but-tastes-yummy combination of spiced lamb mince, pine nuts and sultana with a generous dousing of rocket leaves. I quite liked it actually – tasted a bit like a sweet kebab on a pizza. Adam, on the other hand, just thought it was “weird.” Heh.
Because Adam’s pizza had all the heavy trimmings, I decided to go light with a simple aglio olio pizza (translation: “olive oil pizza”). At only $6.50, the same flat-crust pizza was covered in a liberal sprinkling of olive oil and Parmesan cheese with soft garlic cloves all around. One lone red chilli served as a garnish to the pizza. I’m not sure if I liked the fact that the garlic cloves looked like they were just plonked all over the pizza like the chef can’t be bothered mashing them up and spreading the garlic paste eventually, which I had to do myself. Nevertheless, my pizza was a fresh change from the usual garlic bread or foccacia which I usually have when I eat pizza.
Service, although sometimes friendly, was perhaps true to its namesake – bimbo-y and ditzy, and dare I say, lazy. The Asian chick struggled to get my order right and I had to point to each item on the menu to show what I wanted (I hate it when I do that – I love waiters who simply nod when I say that I want “the fish” or “the scallops” or “that last one on the menu.”). She refused to bring us cutlery, and made us get the forks and knives ourselves from the dispenser at the bar. I am well aware that a lot of places do that, particularly those wonderful cheap Asian cafes, but somehow I doubt that they pay the staff at BD $5 an hour, particularly on a Saturday, so therefore, they should do what they’re supposed to do, dammit! On the other hand, when the pizza is good and cheap, however, I guess you shouldn’t really be fussy about the service. After all, what do you expect from a pizza restaurant that has a name which is more suited to a brothel in South Melbourne?