Restaurant Review

2 Conversations

Rococo. 63 Martober St, basement level. Hours: Lunch, Monday-Tuesday 12pm-12.45pm. Dinner, Sunday, 6pm-6.30pm.

Admission to a certain kind of bar and restaurant these days is a privilege, not a right, and this excellent thinking is taken to its logical conclusion at Aleister Crowley's delightful new venture, Rococo. Our party of four was met at the door by trained bank staff who accessed our financial records before we were allowed through the door. Grooming specialists in Rococo’s discreet salon were then called Fair enough. I, for one thought their stinging rebuke of Hubert's goatee - at his age! - was long overdue.

Such preliminaries certainly whetted one's appetite. Seconds after we were seated at an Italian vinyl banquette, we were served, gratis, an eggcup of free-range chicken gizzards flavoured with walnut. Victor thought his was slightly overdone, but Hubert relished its piquancy, and Mavis remarked that last Tuesday she paid a Korean philosophy graduate $45 to have sex. It was at this juncture that our waitperson arrived to seek permission to ask whether we might be ready to order our entrees.

We were all taken by this charming apparition. "Nice buns," said Mavis, while Hubert and Victor praised his high cheekbones, his watery eyes, and his marvellous blend of servility and cravenness. "Open wide," I asked him. I gave him a satisfied nod: I do like a waitperson who flosses.

Hubert started with the asparagus, roasted beet and boccocini terrine flavoured with walnut ($89.50), while Victor went for the grainfed smoked oysters ($125.50). Was I in the mood for surf, or for turf? In the end, I sat on the fence, and decided on the truffled hummus with pickled onions and fiddlehead ferns ($76). Mavis has always been a surf girl, and ordered two bottles of Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Hawke’s Bay 97 ($58 each).

For the three of us who were eating, it was difficult to pass comment, because it took only four seconds to finish our portions, which were served in the middle of 86cm bowls. But during her second bottle, Mavis passed wind, which was still warm by the time it reached us, and epitomised what she is about: saucy flavours with an integrity not displayed often enough.

There is a vibrancy to Rococo's atmosphere, although minus the pose quotient. No one else was dining while we were there. On the music front, George Michael's lovely version of "Roxanne" soothed even Mavis, while Victor and Hubert came back from the gents' extolling the range of handcreams.

For mains, I voted for the chilled lasagnaettes of fresh dolphin ($1400), while Hubert tried to assert his masculinity by choosing the spice-rubbed grilled goats head flavoured with walnut ($2545). Victor elected to have the shiitake served with baked craap beneath a piece of piis ($3600). Mavis asked the waitperson to serve her Krug Vintage ($590) by the teaspoon. "Gold star status!" I cried out. "Ample!" roared Hubert. "A vigorous piis!" yelled Victor. It was fun to raise our voices, and necessary, too, because our 480cm bowls demanded so much space that we had to sit at separate tables.

By dessert, Mavis was unbuttoning her blouse, and wanting to have a dip in the fishtank. I left Victor to sort her out, and retired to the ladies to powder my nose. I do like cocaine after a meal, and appreciated Rococo's range of glass straws as I hoovered up a gram (only $300; drugs should be cheaper than food) on the black Italian marble washbasin. When I returned to the table, Victor was telling Hubert how he had donated $20 over the phone to victims of an earthquake, I think it was, in Mozambique. "That's so sweet of you," I said, but reminded the men that it wasn't proper to discuss politics over dinner.

I admit to being a trifle disappointed by my trifle ($290). It wasn't up to head chef Jean-Claud Van Bulow's usual standard, when he worked at Sodom. But Victor announced he was mightily pleased with the Muscat Beaumes de Venise custard served with Milk Arrowroots ($380), and Hubert lapped up his shavings of Egyptian orange pips on crushed ice flavoured with walnut ($7090). Mavis drank from a hot waterbottle filled with a 1994 Church Road Chardonnay ($45), and slapped the waitperson's face. He was a good sport about it, so we tipped him $5.

"Mrs Trout!" shrieked Crowley, as we prepared to leave. "You look divine! How did you like my little cafe?" I told him what I shall now tell you: "Reasonably priced. In the aesthetics department, perfect in its triangular presentation. The obvious philosophy you have embraced here is stripped-down and unpretentious. As for the Italian toilet paper, it was adult and assured, with a textural eminence, and an intoxicating flavour."

He clapped, and so should you - it was one of my best speeches. To conclude, I heartily recommend Rococo, but also suggest that you invite a doctor, preferably an emergency resident. Sadly, our night out was Mavis's last supper. Poor girl. Only 43, and such a loss to her chosen field of public relations.

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