Lately I’ve been having troubles sleeping. I’m not sure what the problem is but every time I prepare myself for sweet dreams involving Hugh Jackman at 10pm, I find that I cannot go to sleep immediately. More often than not, my eyes don’t shut until 2am even though they’ve been feeling heavy all day. What’s funny, I reckon, is that I haven’t had coffee for two and a half weeks so my problem definitely does NOT lie in the fact that I drink too much coffee. Given that my lack of sleep has led to my work performance deteriorating, my head feeling dizzy during the day and subsequently leaving work early yesterday to go home and get some rest, I think that my sleep condition (or lack of) has either go to do with the possibility of me turning into a vampire or just my body adjusting to the fact that I’ll probably be up all night doing assignments, sleeping at 2am and having only 4 hours sleep before I get up to work the next morning. Sigh.
Anyway, the reason I wasted a whole paragraph writing all that up was because I needed a segue to bring in my main story tonight. Having dinner with my old friend Phil at Match Bar & Grill. You may wonder what on earth “lack of sleep” and “eating toffed-up pub food” would have in common. Next to nothing, I reckon but I think I’m doing quite well on 4 hours sleep so shut up okay? Long story short: Left work early yesterday. Didn’t want to use up any of my annual leave or (what’s left of my) sick leave so I promised my team leader that I would make it up in hours the rest of the week. That’s cool with her. So I came in extra early today and was also putting in an extra half hour in the afternoon today when Phil suggests a bit of a catch up after work. I’m tired and cranky but the thought of “food” and the thought of seeing a friend whom I hadn’t seen in person for almost two years was enough for me to say “yes.”
We all know about Match Bar and Grill. We know that it’s a retro-slash-sophiscated bar in QV, overlooking the State Library. We know that they often play some decent retro pop from the 80s and 90s, a huge thumbs up in my books. And we know that it’s a pretty decent spot for a drink on their balcony, particularly on hot summer evenings. Adam and I took our mate Martin there not too long ago for drinks but we sadly missed out on sampling what their kitchen had to offer. Well, tonight was the night I finally got to see whether the food at Match matched (har-har) up to their awesome drinks and bar atmosphere. And I was finally able to try those scallops that Dave was raving about. Being a Wednesday night, I was expecting the place to be dead so that we could sit on the balcony but I was surprised to find it PACKED and so we ended up back inside at a table by the window which was good enough for us. Phil had a beer while I settled for a house white, which we enjoyed with complimentary ciabatta and (piss weak) olive oil while we waited for our food and giggled at the “word bin” section on the printed menus where the owners of Match state their policy about not using “overly pretentious” restaurant menu phrases such as “seasonal”, “free range” and fresh.”
My baked scallops ($4 each. I ordered two for myself because Phil hates scallops). I ordered these purely on Dave’s recommendation. They’re okay but I didn’t find them OMG-SUPER-FANTASTIC. And for some reason, they look somewhat different in Dave’s photo (his were bigger?). The scallops themselves were disappointingly small and I wondered whether they were even Australian as they certainly didn’t taste it. On the other hand, I did love the very tasty breadcrumb mix that covered each little scallop. The combination of jamon, chilli specks, white wine and garlic indeed made me feel like I was eating a toffed-up garlic bread with scallops. On paper, it sounds amazing but I failed to be thoroughly impressed like Dave was. Perhaps if the scallops were bigger and perhaps if the breadcrumbs weren’t COLD, then I probably would’ve liked it better .
My entree-sized main ($16) was a crab-meat linguine. I chose this dish because I wanted something “light” but after one bite, I was beginning to wish that I had ordered the steak instead. Like the scallops, it wasn’t awful but it didn’t do it for me either. The dish arrived not as hot as I would have liked and the taste … well, bland. I get that the dish is meant to be a “simple” one but many restaurants and many home cooks, including myself, can whisk up a pasta dish using the same base ingredients that Match used for their pasta: olive oil, garlic, chilli, white wine and parsley with plenty of horse-power and flavour. Not even the lovely green shreds of baby spinach could add colour and life into it. In contrast, this dish was limp, insipid and even the blue swimmer crab meat pieces looked tired. Perhaps that’s why the “word bin” was introduced – to prevent people from expecting good quality produce. Maybe.
This is Phil’s “Match Burger” which came with crispy hand-cut potato chips ($18). Two white hamburger buns housed a lean beef pattie, several pieces of cos lettuce, salad onions, cheese and bacon. It was not as greasy as most, which pleased the two of us since we’re keen to cut as much as fat as we can from our diet (whether or not we succeed is another story). One bite of his burger led me to say that it was better than the burgers they serve in many of the other pubs in the Lonsdale St/La Trobe St area, though not superb as I have had better. Phil also agreed with me in saying that it wasn’t the best but he also said that it tasted like something his dad could cook at home which, I must add, is actually a compliment because his parents are pretty decent cooks. Thus, when Phil says that the food is “something that we can whip up at home”, he usually means that it’s good (whereas when I say it, it holds a completely opposite meaning).
We all know that Match is a great place for drinks. Countless photos of my friends posing on the balcony appear on facebook on a semi-regular basis will attest to that. The food, on the other hand, is something that Match needs to work on. After all, if they are going to call themselves a “bar and grill”, shouldn’t they be churning out both good drinks AND food?