Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Waiting Room, Chicken Adobo Tacos and Fifteen Burned Down

After I signed the lease for my unit in Southbank, I wanted a refreshing beer to take the edge off. I had just removed around $8k from my savings account and signed my life away to live in a city where I knew only a few people both professionally and personally. Given the majority of my friends are in Sydney, I knew it would be an interesting year to say the least and now that I am coming up on the three month anniversary to the day since I relocated from Sydney, I have not regretted it once. I still reflect back fondly on the day of the lease signing and then almost by fate stumbling across The Waiting Room located inside the Crown Casino complex on the Queensbridge Street side.

Over the year I received the monthly newsletter from the Rockpool Group and I read about The Waiting Room however I was never too inspired since I just thought of it as a bar at the casino. In fact when I stumbled into it on the first fateful day, I didn't even know I was in The Waiting Room and just another sideshow unnamed casino bar off the entrance to the area where you check-in to the hotel in the foyer.

I was quickly greeted by the enthusiastic and friendly staff and opted to take up residence at a barstool since I was drinking on my own sadly this day. I immediately noticed that they have my favourite beer on tap, Lord Nelson Three Sheets, which is a Sydney iconic micro-beer and flogged mainly at the Lord Nelson Hotel Brewery in The Rocks. The Lord Nelson was my "local" whilst living in Sydney and I was very excited to say the least to see it on tap in this bar. I spent four hours in this bar drinking and telling tale tales. I felt like the the staff at this place were the first to welcome me to the neighbourhood.

Over the next few days and weeks I would return to The Waiting Room with other purveyors of the fine food and drink. Neil Perry has put together a very interesting bar meal that is mexican-influenced. Most notable is the chicken adobo taco which compliments the Lord Nelson Three Sheets very well. The spicy chicken wings and calamari are also winners. They even manage to put together a chicken mole taco that is actually pretty special. The reviewers on Urbanspoon seem to agree with my positive feelings for this place too.

The Waiting Room on Urbanspoon

After visiting the Essential Ingredient in Prahran earlier in the week, I picked up some cans of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce. They also flog proper corn tortillas so my intention was to re-create the chicken adobo tacos that were being sold at The Waiting Room. I came across the recipe on the Sydney Morning Herald website strangely and was saddened to learn you need a pressure cooker to make this concoction. As I do not own one, I went back to basics. I poached 500g of chicken breast in a wok for a little over an hour. I then added the chicken breast and the can of adobo and chipotle chillies in a bowl and cut and mixed everything together. I then crushed up two two avocados and lightly grilled the tortillas. I spread the avocado on the grilled tortilla and then added the shredded chicken with adobo and chipotle chillies. It turned out to be one of the easiest taco dishes that I have ever made and one of the most tasty by far. Who needed Neil's recipe and the pressure cooker. Ingenuity and common sense wins again in the end.

I was also surprised to learn that Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant was destroyed because of an arson attack some time ago. I always wondered why this place was no longer trading and how Tobie Puttock ended up on My Kitchen Rules. It follows in the dark shadow cast by the owners of the Swagman Restaurant burning it down in 1991. Such colourful trivia to know in Melbourne does make my day a bit more interesting.