The world can be a really fragile place sometimes. As a person who self-admittantly can sometimes fall, sometimes struggle emotionally, I see the frailty and tumultuous nature of life. The older I get, the more crazy life becomes and those threads that weave to map out my life stretch even thinner. But that’s where time with loved ones becomes cherished, becomes more necessary than ever.
After a particular insane week I was ready for a pick me up. Normally I’d try to find comfort, distraction or solace in alone time, outings with friends or time with my boy, but instead I opted for a dinner out with my mum. We don’t get to spend as much one on one time as I’d like lately, so it was nice to shake off the heaviness of the real world and escape into a night of food and company.
My mum is actually more foodie than I, so it’s always a bit nerve-wracking taking her out. Sure, we have our favourites like Lalla Rookh, Hong Kong BBQ and Bivouac, but when it comes to trying something new I get butterflies on how the night will eventuate.
After a little brainstorming we decided to head over to Vic Park to check out their Friday night markets, and then go to The Precinct for dinner afterwards. The venue was about half full when we arrived, the dark space lit by flickering candles and carrying the sound of chattering voices.
The menu is designed to share here, which as I often say, is my favourite style of dining. We scanned the options and picked a couple small items and one large. First to come out was the whitebait with parsley, roast fennel and honey aioli ($12.00). Lightly seasoned, these were a tasty treat to whet our appetite – a nice touch with the flavoured aioli to bring in a point of difference to the dish. I usually like mine more crisp, but the creamy sauce was enough to break up the breaded fish.
The Moroccan lamb with lemon couscous and bread ($30.00) was the standout for the night. A rich stew of tender lamb, tomatoes and chickpeas was perfect with that oh so fluffy couscous. For me the bread was a little tough so I would have preferred a buttery grilled option instead, but the rest of the dish was spot on.
Moroccan stews have such a warm, comforting quality with their layers of flavour. I like the use of traditional spices and flavour profiles which the lemon throughout the couscous cut through. And the best part was, this dish wasn’t just tasty – it was huge! A really deceptively filling option that I think one person would struggle to get through on their own.
The chicken wings with honey and sriracha glaze, sesame seeds and spring onions ($15.00) were a contentious dish between my mum and I. We both agreed that the meat was tender for the most part (a couple of dry pieces in the mix), and juicy. She found that the coating was too sweet though, whereas I really liked the sweet and spicy mix – yes I find think it was finger licking good!
The serving size was quite decent, and I happily cleaned up the majority of the chicken wings on the plate while mum focussed her attention on that great Moroccan lamb.
Feeling quite full, we bummed and ahhed over whether to get dessert to finish up our meal. In the end my greed won out and I convinced my dining companion to share the strawberry pavlova with pistachio soil and raspberry coulis ($12.00).
When the plate came out to the table, everyone around us in the restaurant turned and stared! But it was such a beautiful dessert, I can’t blame them – I constantly suffer from dish creeping where I can’t help but eye off what others are eating.
While I was expecting a proper pavlova, I was pleasantly surprised at the change of pace. The Precinct’s version was a soft meringue roll topped with cream, strawberries, lavender, mint and shards of crunchy meringue. The roll was so marshmallowy and silky, and worked well with the tart coulis and the crunchy savoury nuts. It was a really good dessert, and left my mum (who doesn’t have a sweet tooth at all) impressed – a big feat!
It’s amazing how cathartic time out with a loved one over some food can be. I had been feeling so out of sorts before heading out to Vic Park, and by the time I got home I was full-bellied, happy and ready to face whatever challenges came my way next.