Sunday, 12 January 2014

Southpaw - Fitzroy

Early last year I jumped on a budget Tiger flight to Adelaide. 'Why on earth go to Adelaide?!' I hear a chorus of you exclaiming. Well slow down there Judgy McJudges, I discovered Adelaide isn't actually that bad. Particularly during festival season, and they do have some amazing festivals. Take, for instance, the aptly named Adelaide Festival. Unbelievable international performers, the likes of some of which I've rarely seen in the bigger cities, converging on this well-kept, over-sized town. Also, pints at the pub were a comfortable $6 (that was the real appeal). But I digress! On the flight, I staved off 45 mins of tactical arm-rest battles with the passenger next to me by reading the in-flight Tiger magazine. Being a Singaporean airline, I was interested to see what the 'zine had to say about holidaying in Melbourne. It listed Gertrude St, Fitzroy, as the pick of the shopping strips in Melbourne. Really? Gertrude St?! Now, I don't want to seem anti-Gertrude. Hell, I love Hamlet as much as the next Shakespearean actor, and am proud to say I have celebrated numerous of my past birthdays at Gertrude St establishments over the years, but it seemed a slightly odd selection. Since reading that article, I've taken a little more interest in this strip. I'll still dispute that it is some sort of shopping Mecca of Melbourne, but there is a pretty neat section of bars and eateries between Smith and Brunswick Streets. Thus it was, when my friend suggested we catch up for lunch at Southpaw on Gertrude, I jumped at the chance!

Southpaw oozes casual cool, from the staff to the decor. As I walked through to the courtyard out the back, the adjoining dining room/lounge looked, at a peripheral glance, almost like an old-fashioned tea room. At second glance, this view was corrected by the vacant set of decks tucked discreetly in the corner, alluding to a nightlife that I'd be very interested in checking out. The majority of the menu takes its inspiration from the deep south - not overly surprising, Yank cuisine has very much been in vogue the past couple of years.

There are a couple of veg options available. The chargrilled tofu, capsicum, broadbean and radicchio salad took my initial interest, but upon recommendation I went for the quinoa and beetroot salad. Now, before I go any further I want to outline my initial apprehension about this salad. Don't get me wrong, it looked DAMN appealing, and I get ALL over quinoa when I'm in the kitchen. That being said, I've found that whenever I've ordered a quinoa dish out and about, it inevitably is a disappointment. Often quite watery and bland, as if whoever designed the dish is purely interested in trading on the current popularity of the grain, as opposed to doing anything interesting with it. Fortunately, that is not the case at Southpaw. Mixed in along with the beetroot and quinoa are pomegranate, spinach and red cabbage, topped off with Danish feta and and orange dressing. The sweetness of the beetroot and pomegranate - a severely under-utilised ingredient, in my opinion - is balanced beautifully with the bitter crunchiness of the cabbage and the salty tones of the smooth Danish feta. There's a lot going on in this dish, and the quinoa forms the ideal base for soaking up all the colours and flavours involved. It isn't the largest serve in the world, but ideal for a light afternoon snack. My kudos to the chef, I look forward to my next visit!


Beetroot & Quinoa Salad ($12) - Southpaw

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