Pinch and a Punch for the first day of the Month! And for my fellow Sydney friends, its that time of the year again - March into Merivale! A couple of hooligans couldn't say no to the promise of a bonafide American Diner experience. Star Spangled banners decorated the Mad Cow steakhouse, with (albiet empty) Ketchup and Mustard squeeze bottles - get into the USA spirit!
As I nursed my non-american beer it was clear that these events in each of Merivale's restaurants really pull in the crowds. On an ordinary tuesday night, the entire dining area of Mad Cow was packed out. This $70 event featuring 5 courses which would "showcase and celebrate American diner classics" were one of the events in the program that had sold out.
Our overly hyperactive and enthusiastic table agree that head chef Christopher Whitehead had a tough crowd specifically in this table alone - with 2 of the diners including myself having fond childhood memories in the US of A and another co-eater back from a long stint of travelling through the country.
It took a while to get the meal started but I suppose such is the case when you are feeding the whole restaurant identical courses. For our amuse(ment), a corn and cheese quesadilla. We figured this was a taste of America in close proximity to the Mexican border.
Our First Entree was a chopped salad with prawns, avocado, cucumber, tomato and onions. A very light and fresh shrimp salad. California-inspired perhaps? I think a side of ranch would have made this dish a bit more American perhaps. I figured that if the American flag was featured in my photo's it would validate the dinner theme.
Our second entree was a perfectly cooked Salmon filet with crushed peas. Cooked to perfection with a rare middle and crunchy skin, we marked Alaska off the map of the USA - they catch salmon there right?
Our main dish was a serving of Braised short ribs served with peas, mash and beetroot. Slightly lost on the theme as it was cooked in red wine reduction with a beetroot on the side of all things. I was hoping it would be more on the smokey barbecue variety.
No you cant so no to fries. Having a big bowl to demolish with the short rib was the greasiness people were expecting. Quick, get the flag in there!
The much awaited and anticipated dish of the evening was the key lime pie, one dessert that we couldn't doubt its american roots, hello sunny Florida! I absolutely massacred the biscuit base!
The menu had promised us cookies and our table had an absolute ball comming up with a strategy to end the meal with th best tasting cookie. I think I did quite well with my order consumption of Homemade Oreo - Choc Chip - Oatmeal and ended with Peanut Butter.. chewy goodness, we wanted to steal more from the other tables.
$70 was great value for a 5 course meal at Mad Cow but they definitely could have pushed the creativity for this theme. The dishes we had could have come off any regular modern Australian menu. Not that we were expecting hotdogs, burgers or a giant rack of ribs..but other than the flags and pie, the American concept was hard to find. I would love to hear from you though, friend of the fridge..what marches to your mind when you think of American Diner food?
Mad Cow, located within the Ivy complex - George St Sydney.
March into Merivale details: http://merivale.com.au/whats-on/type/march-into-merivale/