For starters, what would even possess me to order pork knuckle? Especially at a German-themed beer barn in a cobble-stoned lane in Melbourne – mayhaps if I’d been in the motherland it would be a different story…
I digress. With three weeks left to go before TBT (The Big Trip), I am cramming in as much BFF-time as I can. This has resulted in a weekly date-night, where we go to a ‘nice restaurant’ or, as last night played out, a ‘novelty restaurant’ (two words that should NEVER go together, unless it’s Bobby McGees circa 1991) and eat til we’re sick and drink copious amounts of wine/beer/martinis.
So on a crisp Melbourne eve, we decided to try somewhere different. We were both in the mood for something hearty; something goulash-y; something winter-y – preferably with sauerkraut and sour cream and meat. That’s a weird combination, isn’t it? It’s true though – these were the pre-requisites to be met before we ventured into the chilly air. And it dawned on us, like the sun peeking over the Norwegian horizon on the 14th of February (that’s the first day they see sun in, like, 4 months or something – FACT!!*), WE SHOULD CHECK OUT THAT JAH-MARN PLACE NEAR DING DONG!!!!
Off we went, and BOY! were we delighted when we stepped inside those heavy wooden doors…. Men in lederhosen!! Buxom wenches carrying around massive steins of beer! A band!!! Tables and tables of merry office workers and Lonely Planet-reading tourists enjoying schnitzel and pickles and potato dumplings and spatzle (my favourite word). According to their website, they also have yodelling and slap-dancing which we, unfortunately, missed…
But on ordering, and the subsequent arrival of our dinner, our excitement quickly turned as sour as the kraut on our plates when we were served two whole pigs lashed with crackling and gravy and mustard and cabbage (my pork knuckle even had a KNIFE sticking out of it!!!). O yes, I agree it sounds like heaven to anyone of European descent (sweeping generalisation), but when faced with it, it was too too much.
Here is a picture of us trying to be excited by our meals, but are, in fact, terrified.
We soldiered on for as long as we could. Based on the sheer size of the knuckle and belleh, I think we did a pretty good job to eat as much as we did without dropping dead of heart failure. Quickly and silently, we nodded at each other, strategically placed our paper napkins atop the uneaten swine, paid our bill, and left.
Hauling our sorry, salty bones outta there, we lurched down Little Bourke Street, bemoaning our poor decision to go against out better judgement and dine in at a restaurant where the staff were forced to heave their bosoms and pose with two steins for drunken businessmen (how many Facebook photos are titled “Nice jugs, love!” after a trip here???). Oddly enough, we went straight to Myer, where I purchased a new suitcase and several pairs of underpants.
High on brine, we staggered into one of our favourite Melbourne restaurants and demanded:
- a candle-lit table for two
- two Montenegros;
- and a chocolate pudding
The candlelight cast us in a flattering light… The Montenegro aided our digestion…. The chocolate pudding and home-made vanilla ice-cream replaced the taste of vinegar and pork in our mouths and took us to our happy place…. Bliss.
The moral of this story? There’s not one. I love trying new things. And between you and me, novelty restaurants are kinda hilarious, because it’s not like you go for the food, right? Except that we did. Dummies! But this Jah-marn beer house is like a Euro-equivalent of Dracula’s or Witches in Britches. And I’m glad we went there, because it was something a bit different and something VERY silly and something filling and coma-inducing, but fun. Those 25 minutes before our food came out were the most exciting 25 minutes I’ve had in a long time.
And really, when you’re with your bestie, EVERYTHING is good. It really is.
*this is actually not a fact. I think I saw something on Twitter about this a few days ago but now I can’t find it. But either way, it’s exciting when you see a sunrise after a whole winter of darkness. And it’s exciting having a lightbulb moment when it comes to dinner. So it’s all much of a muchness, right? Eep.