I went out last Friday night to catch up with friends for drinks and dinner. That's a pretty normal event in my life, but last Friday there were a couple of things that made it a little different.
We started at Collins Quarter, which once upon a time used to be Doc Martins. One way or another there's been a bar there for 15 years or more. It's a great venue, a front bar that opens out into a broad courtyard serviced by the back bar and a cosy area upstairs from it. Back in the day when it was Docs tradition was every Friday night they would barbecue sausages in the courtyard for patrons to eat in slices of fresh bread. It was one of my regular haunts at one stage - when I worked at Vic Super and Shell - and I had many a hot snag on a sultry and decadent Friday night.
I was a younger man then, though, I guess, haven't really changed that much since - maybe I'm a little less wild. I've been to both incarnations of the bar many times over the years and remembering that standing there on Friday night it suddenly struck me that was the venue I'd 'picked up' more successfully than any other. That was definitive, but thinking back it seemed pretty likely.
Back in the day I recall many a depraved evening shared with similar minded people. You're young and pretty, you have booze in your system, lust in your heart and the sky seems a pretty inadequate limit. I had forgotten most of it, but much came back: pashing with girls I knew, or girls I didn't. Ardent, innuendo laden flirtation that flared often into insistent passion. Man, I felt awfully nostalgic remembering. I reckon I picked maybe 6-8 girls from there over the years and took them home.
We went to dinner afterwards. We went to another similarly full of nostalgic memory for me: Lucattini's.
I must have first gone to Lucattini's 25 years ago. It would have been with dad and his wife, a favourite restaurant of theirs. I remember a waiter and a short, round waiter, both Italian, both a lot of fun. Over the years I've been back many times, but often with a big break in between. At some point the fat waiter disappeared; now the tall waiter has similarly gone: 25 years is a long time.
The restaurant is at the end of a small laneway off Little Bourke street. It's unpretentious, but comfortable. The food is fine without being exceptional. In truth it's not as good as it used to be, but it remains one of those Italian family restaurants that engender loyalty and fond memories in its patrons.
The meal we had was fine. At the end of it Cheeseboy and I both asked for the Zabaglione. It's not on the memory, but I've always had it there, and we two once had a splendid night there topped off by the delicious dessert.
Of course said the waiter, and soon we were both eating from parfait glasses the warm, liquid, Marsala laden custard. We went to pay and he waved us off - it wasn't on the menu after all - but we tipped him $20 nonetheless. Worth every cent.