So, hey, let’s try something different with this write-up. Our topic today is the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar (or SCOB, rhymes with Job from the Bible or GOB from Arrested Development, for short) and specifically their new after-work afternoon bar food menu, to which the Prick was introduced the other night in the grand company of a number of food bloggers and tweeters. And instead of loading up the post with five hundred or so introductory words musing on Mark Twain’s enigmatic, ICAC-prefiguring words about Sydney Cove (“God made the Harbour, but Satan made Sydney”) or whether the very post-modern nature of the food blogging community, where people become mates without ever necessarily meeting, is like something out of the first act of David Foster Wallace’s most amazing work or the final act of Michel Houllebecq’s most depressing, let’s just get into the food.
You see what I just did there, right?
Ah. Too clever by half, I know. Anyway, it was a bright late-late summer’s evening when a crew organised by Vanity Fare (this being the closest to a Vanity Fair party this Prick will ever get and with far better company) and including such luminaries as the Hungry Mum, Forking Awesome, Verandah’s Jonathan Ingram, Chew Town, Belly Rumbles, and many more I’m doubtlessly forgetting, gathered to check out SCOB’s new bar food menu.
Now SCOB has been perched on the water’s edge for nearly 25 years and has developed a quiet – too quiet, if you ask the Prick – following. Because even before we get to the food, SCOB should by all rights be the most popular place on the Harbour. It’s not owned or run or affiliated with the Obeids. It’s not the over-priced, over-rated, and over-run Opera Bar. Nor is it a certain eponymous family-run joint on the other side of the Quay which once, before I knew better, served my father and me a meal so awful in its tourist-trap pedestrianness that we silently agreed to never speak of it again, like a drunken relative’s embarrassing rant at Christmas dinner.
SCOB Chef Rhys Ward put together a bit of a tasting menu (note we were not lured in with freebies, and the Prick paid for all his own food and drink including a lovely bottle of Sancerre and an utterly gratuitous cognac at the end of the night) and festivities kicked off with a lovely salmon tartare, light and refreshing though more refined than what one normally thinks of as “bar food”. Just-opened Sydney rocks needed no dressing at all and were gone in sixty seconds: plump, steely little creatures that rewarded chewing with briny creaminess. This site claims some credit for the next course, deep-fried Coffin Bay oysters with a wasabi mayo, but really, how can you go wrong? We didn’t.
Somewhere in the mix was some lightly-battered deep-fried saltbush, which the Prick has never had before (considering, perhaps unfairly, that anything that smacks of “bush tucker” is just pandering) but which turns out to be delicious, the outback’s quite convincing answer to zucchini flowers. Calamari were there as well. Salads, and some lamb skewers, rounded things out for those who had their fill of Nemo, but the winning course was a John Dory ceviche which, again, was very refined, and showed the kitchen’s light touch with great ingredients: If this is bar food, make mine a double.
SCOB’s bar food menu is a great idea and a tops alternative to the obvious choices when looking for a snack and a drink in that part of town. At some point, the Pricks will have to drop in for a proper meal. Word on the street is they do a mean brekkie on the weekend as well. Check it out. Tell ‘em the Prick sent ya.