NEWTOWN: Andrew Christie (landscape architect, writer and food blogger) is a man on a mission. He and his wife Cath are eating their way from the north to the south end of King Street, sampling various menu items, comparing table service and cafe-bar-restaurant ambience as they go. “We’re about halfway now”, Andrew says, enjoying a flat white at Cafe C. “Maybe we’ll come to the end, turn around and start over again – it’s a bit like painting the Harbour Bridge, the job is never done.”
Painting the Bridge is the name of Andrew’s blog, the most recent entry dated March 27:
“We have finally found out where all the older people in Newtown hang out. On Friday night, when it gets dark and the Young People come out to play, taking over King Street, with their tight skin and their tattoos, Kelly’s is a haven for us slow-walkers. It is the only pub left in Newtown where high-vis fluoro is not worn ironically. Once upon a time it may have been an attempt at an Irish theme pub but now it is more an attempt at a grungy rabbit warren. The place is full of nooks and crannys and sticky tables. But it is jolly, and as I said, on a Friday night it is the last refuge of the Older Person. There are plenty of screens showing rugby, and quite a lot of beer-gut and shaved-head combos …”
The inspiration for the project came when Andrew and Cath realised how often they dined at the same few places. They also saw eating establishments coming and going – in a highly competitive market – and wanted to do their bit for the local economy. “It’s a way of celebrating and supporting the neighbourhood, getting to know the neighbourhood,” Andrew says. “It’s also a bit of fun – and good writing practice.”
Andrew has been critical of what he sees as “unimaginative” and “depressing” decor in some places. “I think some places might rely too heavily on passing trade,” he says. “It’s exciting to see more creative efforts in terms of decor and menu at places like the Newtown Hotel, Thai Pothong and Izote Mexican.”
Izote Mexican also collects top honours (so far) for quality service. When asked to name his choice for “most charming staff”, Andrew nominates Atom Thai. Blossoming Lotus is leading the charge for best vegetarian. Best coffee front-runner is Fringe Cafe.
With just on a year to go, Andrew and Cath have settled into a regular Friday night routine. Saturday breakfasts mix things up a little. The couple is enjoying the “journey” and the support of friends and online readers.
Perhaps readers will be inspired to think about their own unique neighbourhoods – to get out, wander on foot, sample the local produce and service, maybe even discover a few inner-city secrets or treasures. “It’s about loving your suburb,” Andrew says. “Getting out of your comfort zone and making new connections.”