A long, long time ago, back when I was a young man about town in Manhattan, I had a sideline job as a restaurant critic for a free weekly called the New York Press. It was a fun little gig: I was eating out all the time anyway, I liked (and, obviously, still like) to write about food, and I think they threw me $50 or somesuch token sum per review. Win-win. The only problem was, I also really, really liked to tear restaurants apart in print: my motto was that just as every happy family is the same but every unhappy family is unique, there are only so many ways to say delicious but many more fun ways to say awful. Predictably, this did not make me popular with the editors, who were needed advertiser dollars far more than they did my thesaurus of cynicism. Things came to a head when I beat an East Village Tex-Mex joint about the head for an atrocious brunch, I was asked to “make room for other contributors” or some such, and the thing became a bit of an affair in the fishbowl of media blogs for about twelve hours.
I’m older now, and perhaps a bit wiser, but I still think it is fun really get stuck into someone or something in print. Which is why, on some atavistic, brain-stem level, I am almost disappointed to keep having good, or at least decent, meals to write about: One of these days, some meal will provoke me to wax wroth and we will find out just whether or not it is a good move for a Sydney restaurateur to file a defamation claim against a humble food blogger. But today is not that day.
Instead, today I am going to urge everyone who works in Sydney’s CBD to, while it is still going on, take advantage of the “corporate lunch” special at Luke Mangan’s Glass Brasserie in the Hilton. Here’s the deal: sit in the bar area (a wonderful after-work spot in its own right, where I have whiled away many a happy Friday evening with my team washing down bowls of “truffle fries” with Hendricks martinis) and for twenty bucks you get a choice of a burger, a pie, fish-and-chips, or a minute steak accompanied by a glass of red or white or a Vale Ale. The first time I went, Mrs Prick and I made the mistake of sitting down in the main dining room. They very politely accommodated us with the special, but we felt weird chowing down on burgers while everyone else was eating their plates such as “truffle poached jewfish, warm cucumber, garlic flower, onion, peas, white asparagus, shimeji”. (When I read that particular menu item, I would not have been displeased if they had made us order off the grown-ups’ menu after all!). Yesterday I went again with some colleagues, and again, had the burger. Ultimately, there really is no other choice:
For $20, including a beer, it’s one of the best burgers I’ve had in this town, and remember, you’ll pay more for that combo over at Charlie & Co in Westfield – and that’s in a food court! More importantly, it’s not overcooked. The caramelised onions are gorgeous. There’s a pleasant spice to the sauce. The meat is rich, and there’s a lot of it. If you go for the lunch – and I urge you to – don’t plan on having a big dinner that night.