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Note: there is no head-minding service here.
We love Newtown. We love the people, the restaurants, the shopping, but we especially love the pubs. That probably only comes as a surprise to the dust behind the TV in the rec-room on the moon, but there you go. There are very few other areas in Sydney where you can you find such comfortable venues to sit, have a drink and just relax. You don’t have to worry whether or not you’re wearing the right clothes or if you fit in with the clientele, because lets face it, everyone fits in here. If we walked into The Courthouse and saw a navy seal talking to a bride, I don’t think we’d bat an eyelid. Unless they were between us and the bar. Shoo.
It ain't half fancy n'that.
It’s one thing to have great pubs, but, Lorin being a local and hence having awesome super-human inside info on the topic, we have to admit it’s only in the last year or so that Newtown has decided to fix up its act in the bar department. That is, of course, with the exception of a few lasting venues, one being Madame Fling Flong. This velveteen little gem has been around for a while now, but still remains largely unknown. Well, until our readers get wind of it, that is! Let’s just hope that you don’t both decide to go there on the same night. It’ll be anarchy.
It's like someone shook a bunch of awesome loungerooms up in a bag.
ANTIQUE-ALICIOUS Located above Soni’s tapas restaurant, Madame Fling Flong is a stylish art deco delight. Yeah, that’s right. Delight. Mismatched lounges, sonorous wooden floorboards, a variety of lamps, retro mirrors and wallpaper, dirty jazz music so apt and authentic you can almost hear needle-scratch on vinyl, this bar is much like the suburb: eclectic. It looks beautiful but best of all, it’s just casual. And by casual I mean relaxed, not to be confused with slack service or an establishment that just doesn’t give a fuck. It’s simply laid back and as you come. There is no table service, but really, how hard is it to walk three meters to the bar and make an order? This is not a cavernous and extensive space by any means. And while you are at the bar, you may as well help yourself to the large jar of self-service wasabi peas that are there for your pleasure. Yes, that’s right, WASABI PEAS. Forget peanuts, they’re for the unwashed masses. Wasabi peas are the future, and we like it. What better way to enjoy your beverage than chasing it down with a form of extreme eating?
Lorin had to go for a pea.
The menu offers a list of classics as well as the Madame’s signature selections. The signatures price at around $12, and I’m sorry, I don’t care who you are, that’s blatant value for money. The most expensive item on the menu was $18, so you’re not going to break the bank by patronising this bar. Maybe just a couple of New Year’s resolutions or a blood vessel at worst. If peckish you can order from the tapas menu and the kitchen downstairs will sort you out. Quality food and affordable. Tick.
THE WASHED MASSES Apparently weekends are busy here, and the Tuesday night movie deal (a cheesy movie, a drink and a mezze plate for twenty bucks) is booked out regularly, but tonight, at ten to nine on a Thursday, there are only two other tables occupied. Clientele are typically Newtown – one table of Sapphic sisters and one of what looks like walking, slender mounds of facial hair. As a result, we get to scope the place properly and endear ourselves to the barman.
Barman, consider yourself endeared.
While we only dealt with one barman, Cameron, we’d like to say that if he represents the standard of employees of this establishment, they've done well. Chatty, friendly, hilarious, and more than willing to indulge our whims, including sitting on tiny, tiny chairs right in front of the bar. Yes, people, the hilarity is like a freight train – IT NEVER STOPS.
When Lorin saw that Cameron was wearing an old gold Casio digital watch with a blank screen, the following exchange took place:
Lorin (pointing at Cameron’s watch): “Does that work, or is it just awesome?”
Cameron: “Nah. It’s just awesome”.
Genius. Cameron took our money and then told us to have a seat, and that he would bring our cocktails to us. Ten points for making the customer feel comfortable. Alas, we couldn’t really return the favour by making Cameron feel comfortable:
Lorin: “Do you get lonely up here?”
Jo: “That’s... that’s kind of a Cathy Bates question, Lorin”
OUT OF THE WATER CLOSET We do enjoy a bathroom that’s decor-consistent. This little number had a compact brown lounge (not a euphemism), Art Deco mirror, and fantastically busy wallpaper. We would have been thoroughly enchanted had it not been for the toilet-visitor before us, who was clearly suffering from some kind of unfortunate gastric malady. Alas, also not a euphemism.
Important discovery: hot air dissolves patterns. True.
DRINKY DRINKY: LORIN Vodka dry. Not only did it look the part, it tasted pretty on the money. Not the best I’ve had, but whatevs, it’ll do pig. Our lovely bar tender Cameron also asked if I would like lime, he’s so thoughtful like that. The glasses they serve their spirits in look like they could have come from my kitchen, so I wasn’t too impressed with those, but really, I’ve always been told it’s what’s inside that counts so I’m going to let that slide.
Lorin thinks the word 'coochie' is HILARIOUS.
Cocktail: When I asked what Cameron’s specialty was, without missing a beat he said it was a Manhattan. I liked the kid’s confidence so I ordered just that. Now, not being new to this thing called drinking, I probably should have asked a bit more about the drink before I jumped in. I know that a Manhattan is bourbon based, but I didn’t realise how heavy on the bourbon we were talking. To me it was just sweet, pink, bourbon, but I think that’s what a Manhattan is. I’m told by my esteemed colleague that it was actually nicer than some she has tried at other reputable bars, so I’m thinking it’s a gold star for Cameron.
Plus, there's totally a cherry in it.
DRINKY DRINKY: JO I’m a lady of very few unreasonable prejudices (particularly if you discount my feelings regarding Bindi Irwin), however I have a pet hate of tall, narrow glassware. I dunno, I just prefer the feel of a squat, heavy tumbler in my hand. And a man’s stubble on my ch... right. Focus. The gin and tonic inside my tall, narrow glass was reasonable if overly tonicky, with a single piece of lime and house gin. The blokes we were out with were drinking Portuguese Cintra beer, and I think they might have been dancing the superior drink cha-cha at this point.
Important discovery: Tonic makes Jo's shins look HUGE.
As I currently have a weekly ticket on the martini train (and a lifetime pass on the excessive-use-of-metaphor roller coaster, it would seem), I ordered one my way – gin martini with an olive, obscenely dirty. It was grand, with the only drawback being the pre-pitted olives – again just personal taste, as I like to roll the olive pit around in my mouth before deftly removing it with two fingers and placing the dented, disgusting pellet on my coaster. Nonetheless, it was hauntingly cloudy and, quite soon afterwards, completely gone.
Cloudy, with a chance of drunk.
Ultimately, the drinks may not have been the best that we’ve tried, but they definitely weren’t bad. The atmosphere of the place, the service, the value for money (and let’s not forget the wasabi peas) all ensure that we will come back to this little piece of gold. Madame Fling Flong is proof that environment, geniality and wasabi can make up for merely above-middling drinks.
Also, Lorin’s shirt sort of had the word ‘rack’ on it. Night made.
Your president, My-Rack O-Bra-Ma.
We give Madame Fling Flong 3 wasabi peas out of 5.