I recently visited a friend who just had her first baby, a gorgeous little girl called Selina. I also just happened to be there as Selina did the most amazingly smelly poo in her nappy. “I’m so sorry,” my friend said as she changed Selina’s nappy. “Her poos smell so bad that sometimes J (her husband) has to leave the room as he starts gagging!” “Oh, it’s not so bad,” I reassured her. “Just wait a few months until she’s onto solids, and you’ll be amazed by how smelly those nappies become!”
No, I don’t have a child of my own – that’s not why I know about baby poo consistencies and smells. Rather, my younger brother is ten years younger than me, and given that our parents owned a time-sucking takeaway shop for most of our childhoods, I spent a lot of time in my teenage years as a defacto mother figure who changed nappies, read story books, did kindergarten pickups, and more.
Well, that baby whose nappies I used to change just recently graduated from high school, with a respectable ATAR score of 85.9! To honour his graduation, my brother, father and I went out for a celebratory early dinner at The Merrywell before his official graduation ceremony at Jeff’s Shed.
We started off with a few drinks each – my brother took advantage of his recently legal status to order a cider, my father ordered a cooling Corona, and I made do with a Diet Coke.
Unfamiliar with this type of American ‘dirty food’ menu, my father left the ordering up to me, so I opted for a few smaller dishes to share, rather than a main each. This also had the benefit of allowing my sheltered father to try a few more dishes than he would otherwise normally get!
We started with the hot and spicy buffalo chicken wings, which proved to be a bit too spicy for my brother. He did enjoy the celery blue cheese dip though. My father happily ate my brother’s share of the chicken wings, declaring it to be “probably really unhealthy, but very tasty, no wonder so many Americans are larger”. A somewhat hypocritical statement, given my father sports a decent-sized pot belly!
The Dorito-crusted mac & cheese bites were very more-ish, and much more to my brother’s tastes. Filled with gooey cheese that oozed out and stuck to your mouth with each bite, the only improving suggestion that I could make is to consider making the Dorito crust a little more exciting. For instance, I know that there’s Dorito flavours like “Blazin Buffalo & Ranch” and “3rd degree burn Scorchin Habanero” available overseas – imagine using those as the crust, rather than our boring Australian “Tasty Cheese” Doritos?!
The Merrywell proudly proclaims its status as serving the “Burger of the Year” for both 2012 and 2013, as awarded by The Burger Adventure. The little toothpick flag holding the burger together even proclaims this accomplishment proudly, as do posters throughout the bar downstairs. It’ll be interesting to see if it holds onto its title for a fourth year running as I found the burger a little underwhelming.
To be fair, it took a little while for us to get around to eating the burger as we were pre-occupied with the other dishes, so it was sitting on its plate for about ten minutes before we touched it. However, in those ten minutes, the juices and sauces from the burger had rendered the bun completely soggy, resulting in a burger that had lost all structural integrity.
Structure aside, the patty was remarkably flavourful and juicy, the bacon crispy, and the fries crunchy…I’d like to come back and try this burger in a more timely fashion next time!
The wagyu beef tacos (on the specials menu on the day) were more disappointing. The beef was seared nicely, but at the same time was very tough and chewy. Whatever tasty morsels the crisp iceberg lettuce or hot jalapeno chillies offered were simply overshadowed by this sub-par tasteless beef.
The Seafood Gumbo hit the spot though, with its healthy serve of fresh plump seafood that had soaked up all the hot spicy flavour of the soup and large chunks of hot spiced sausage. Despite the fact that the gumbo was quite spicy, it was actually quite manageable as it came served with a side of steamed white rice that tempered the chilli spices of the soup.
We finished our meal by sharing the Rocky Road dessert. The highlight of this dish for me was the silky smooth chocolate gelato, while my father enjoyed the heady bourbon cream and my brother enjoyed the tart sorbet. As a complete dish, this dessert really had everything – from rich chocolates to lighter sorbets, from crunchy nuts to soft fruits. A real winner.
All in all, our family dining experience at the Merrywell was received quite positively by my father, for whom this Modern American style of dining is completely new. He was a particular fan of the smaller nibblier share items though, so I’ll have to take him to more tapas-y type diner places in the future to try more new-American cuisine!
And well, this is the Facebook status I posted on the night of my brother’s graduation:
So he might be all grownup and graduating from high school tonight, but we should all remember that he once pooped so hard that it escaped his nappy and went up his back and all over the car seat.
After all, no matter how old or grown-up he gets, we should all remember that he’ll always be a baby in my eyes.