Saturday, October 25, 2008

is it just me, or didn't I get it?

I walked down a familiar alleyway. One that I used to work next to, where a colleague’s client was once assaulted. The place had changed. No huge dumpsters stinking of garbage. Not a discarded syringe in sight. (Which made me think – the best way to “clean up” the streets of Melbourne is to put in more bars and restaurants, have a doorman keeping an eye on things.)

So our arrival at Canary Club was unexpectedly delightful. Nestled next to the exclusive Kelvin Club, the mosaic studded entrance way was welcoming. We told the guy on the door that we were here to eat, yet strangely instead of giving us a table downstairs, ushered us up to the club area, where we were to dine semi reclined on large day beds.

Perhaps we were the wrong demographic. The staff were professional but it got under my skin after a while to be asked every ten minutes “is everything alright ladies?”. I aint no lady! I also find that kind of over servicing a tad intrusive when you are obviously in the depths of conversation. Yet, when it came to clearing empty glasses there was no asking whether we wished to drink more.

Canary club serves tapas, it had been offered as the place to go when Movida is (inevitably) full. Yet the two places are like chalk and cheese. Canary Club seemed to have a forced atmosphere. The DJ was doing his stuff, very quietly at that hour of the night. Most people upstairs, lounging, were there to eat as well. Though some sweet young things seated around one of the few tables, clutching their drinks looked like they were there for action, though none could be found.

The food was ok. It’s tapas, which is always a challenge to create a balanced meal. We ate a generous calamari salad, the seafood just the acceptable side of cooked before becoming chewy and the vegetables were heavy on raw sweet onion and rocket. There were some swordfish skewers, attractive and tasty. My friend had a serve of slow cooked lamb that she said was enjoyable.

I had a fino from the very small selection of Spanish Sherries. I would have had another, if asked.

While there was nothing wrong with Canary Club, it was like a child that hadn’t grown into its clothing yet.

The website describes the place as:
Situated at the end of a typical Melbourne laneway, inspired by the tapas bars of Barcelona, Canary Club draws you in and greets you upon arrival with its rich tapestry of Gaudi styled tiles.
Set over two levels, it has the essence of the funky Hairy Canary - with a six metre cocktail bar downstairs and a sexier lounge area upstairs. The large chocolate day beds create an ambiance of decadent naughtiness.

Perhaps my experience of tapas bars in Barcelona is a tad out of date but it didn’t remind me of them at all. Having seen the Gaudi tiles, there mosaics are pleasant but not in the masters league. I just got the feeling the designer had never been to Spain.

As for decadent naughtiness, if the cutie at the door that led us in person upstairs had lounged with us and fed us by hand. Now that would have created the atmosphere they were after.

While Hairy Canary has been around long enough to be a Melbourne institution, it has got ambience sussed without trying to force it. Canary Club feels more like a wannabe cousin than a younger sibling.

But who knows, it might just grown into what it wants to be. One day.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darling Food Nazi, forget the tapas in our fair city and even in Barcelona, its the gigantic pintxos of San Sebastian that gets my jaws and heart going....and they call tapas the art of the miniature.....not here baby! Last nights offerings included a HUGE chunk of ham on a slice of bread (CC was appalled!)and a juicy sardine, green olive, grilled pimiento topped off with something gerkiny on a slice of bread....all washed down with a large pot of beer. Its so DAGGY in these pintxos joints, they remind me of bowling clubs, filled to the brim with well heeled oldies....such a far, far cry from the tapas pretensions of our fair city
adios amigo!
Anon Abroad

1:20 am  

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