I know, I know. Canadian? O? I feel like we’ve broken some rules, not rules like “thou shalt not steal”, more along the lines of slipping through a red arrow when there’s no traffic around.
Let me explain. Oman was our only option for O and Melbourne, as multicultural as it is, could not offer us Omani cuisine. We toyed with the idea of just doing generic Middle Eastern or perhaps going to a restaurant starting with O before settling on the idea of Ottawa and then realising that Canada’s national anthem supported our choice.
We headed to the Kodiak Club in Fitzroy. And sure, you’ll go on their website now and in the very first sentence read “that define America’s bar culture” – we’re doing our best, ok? Canada is famous for a dish called Poutine, a calorific combination of chips, gravy and cheese. So like all the 18 year old boys I once knew, we were simply after a bar where we could get ourselves some poutine. And the Kodiak Club gave us just that.
They made it difficult for us to book in the lead up to our dinner date but eventually we secured a table for nine people. The Kodiak Club, we soon realised, was more a bar with food, than a restaurant with a bar. Order and pay at the counter and all that jazz.
I started by asking the bartender if they had any Canadian beers, to which he replied “just what’s in the fridge”. Thanks mate. There’s a reason it’s called ‘hospitality’.
I thought perhaps he’d just had a bad start to his shift or maybe I reminded him of an ex-girlfriend who left him for a much more helpful barman but it seemed he was just a bit too cool and remained so for the duration of the evening. The rest of the bar staff were, however, lovely.
We started with two serves of poutine, which can basically be described as a delicious heart attack in a bowl. (We later discovered, when ordering round two of poutine, that it is only delicious if eaten on an empty stomach. Without your judgement clouded by your hunger, this dish becomes a gluggy guilt ridden mess).
The poutine was followed by some onion shards (would you like some onion with your fried stuff?), deviled eggs (what the? these things are strangely tasty!) and two dozen buffalo wings.
Although others will argue for the burger, the wings were the highlight of the night for me. Doused in what I can only assume is Frank’s hot sauce (if you haven’t tried this stuff, do yourself a favour, I believe you can buy it at USA foods in Melbourne), served with blue cheese sauce to dip in and some token celery, these feisty morsels of artificial flavour are quite a hit.
Up until this point, with the exception of the great wings, the food was just ok. Unfortunately for the Kodiak Club, this is where it took a turn downhill.
We ordered some cocktails. Two from the menu and one which we simply requested the use of Canadian liquor. I took a sip of the latter and, had I been complaining of sore insides this would have been the perfect solution; however, as that was not the case, a cocktail tasting uncannily like deep heat wasn’t quite what I had in mind. My friend’s cocktail appeared: a tiny glass I thought, for $18 a pop but as it more or less resembled straight ethanol with an orange peel residing in the mix, you wouldn’t have wanted a bigger one. The third cocktail I was not brave enough to try. However, we did manage to have our mandatory shot of local liquor – Canadian Club.
Following this, out came our jalapeño bottlecaps. Jalapeño, cream cheese, honey and of course, batter, a combination which strangely works. When these were put down on the table, served in a bowl of lettuce leaves, I wondered if the deep heat cocktail was kicking in or if the lettuce leaves were really moving. One by one the rest of the table noticed the little green caterpillar wiggling it’s way around our bowl.
Our waiter, of course, was mortified and promptly replaced the dish (or perhaps just the lettuce leaves). Although the damage was done, at least it was a caterpillar. After all, they do belong on lettuce leaves.
Finally, after our numerous tasters, we each shared a burger between two, with one diner opting for the Seattle street dog instead. Reports of the dog were good and the burger was very nice. A small in diameter but tall burger in height including two patties (cooked well, not overdone), various sauces, some cucumber, onion and a side of crinkle cut chips, this was the other success of the night.
Overall, I won’t be rushing back to the Kodiak Club. Sure, if I found myself on Brunswick St, a few cocktails to the wind with a hankering for some fried food at least I’d know where to get some decent wings. Unfortunately though, with the combination of the deep heat cocktail, the menu which may as well have been deep fried itself and the bartender who didn’t seem to like bar tending, Canadian was not, for us, as glorious as its national anthem might suggest.