We all have one. The second drawer perhaps. Or under the phone books. In our case, an ancient brown paper bags with the word 'Menu's' written on it in red texta. Every time an interesting menu arrives in the mail, you probably stick it in the drawer, and on those lazy nights when cooking is beyond you, you drag it out and decide what take-away place will be serving you dinner that night.
When is the last time you went through it and tossed out anything that looked a bit dated? Turns out in our case, it has been at least six years.
In exchange for a friend babysitting Miss Four all afternoon I offered to pick up some fish and chips when I went to collect her. Seemed a fair deal as far as I was concerned. My friend had recommended Archie's Fish and Chips on Cambridge Street and although it had been a while since we had ordered from there, I was happy to follow her recommendation.
I shuffled through my menu bag and sure enough, there was the Archie's menu. Yum, fried fetta balls, definitely get some of those. We needed lots of fish and chips for 4 adults and 4 children, so the Archie's Meal (three fish and chips plus choice of three 'nibbles) and the Mates Pack (two fish and chips, ten squid rings, and two 'nibbles) neatly fit the bill.
The bill. Wow, these prices looked amazing I thought, especially since I had heard Archie's had a good reputation. I got on the phone and started my order. I was being a bit picky, some fish had to be crumbed, others battered, some with no vinegar, some with chicken salt. You know the type. He was very patient with me. Although it was very clearly written on the menu, he explained that 'nibbles' included crab stix, pineapple fritters, pumpkin scallops and dim sims amongst other things. I asked for five pineapple rings. No fighting that way.
Until I mentioned the fact that the Archie's Meal and Mate's Pack came with snapper. There was a pause. 'You must have a very old menu,' he told me gently. The standard fish and chips now came with basa, which he explained was a much softer fish than snapper which could be a bit tough when fried. He then told me the price of the Archie's Meal was $34.50 and the Mates Pack was $29.90. I laughed, when I saw the prices on my menu ($25.60 and $21.80 respectively). I turned the menu over, it was dated September 2005.
Hence ladies and gentlemen, always go through your menu bag and toss anything out that is older than 12 months.
I had no problem that the prices had increased so much, it had been six years after all. Not much else has changed though, the menu is similar and offers a range of fish options (snapper, hake, shark and basa and fish of the day). They charge no extra to have the fish grilled rather than fried, a healthy option that can cost $1 or more in other shops. A standard fish and chips (basa) is $10.50 ranging up to $13.50 for the snapper and chips. You can buy the Mates Pack and Archie's Meal with snapper, but there is a surcharge. They have also introduced the 'Big One' ($45.90) which includes four fish and chips, and four options from the nibbles range or two options from the specialty range.
Specialties include old favourites such as onion rings, spring rolls (these are own made though), squid ring, fish cakes, and sea scallops plus more interesting options such as fetta balls (they were very popular with the adults, and cost $4 for 6 pieces), pumpkin scallops (battered butternut pumpkin, $2 each), and eggplant fritters ($2 each).
Archie's also offers a choice of two burgers (beef $8.50 and fish $9.50) and has some salad options offered in store (only coleslaw was available when I went).
Apart from not making me feel like a complete fool for ordering off a prehistoric menu, the owners went beyond the call by offering to help carry all my food to the car (I am largely pregnant and was accompanied by a toddler). They also explained the best way to reheat the fish for my husband who was going to be late for dinner (put the oven on high and only put the fish in when he arrives. Don't leave it in a moderate oven otherwise it will be soggy and not crispy.)
Sometimes service is more important than the food, it can leave a more lasting impression. And I was impressed by the service as Archie's. The food was also excellent, and so generous in its servings that we had plenty of leftovers the next day. So I suppose it's lucky that I now know how to reheat fish and chips properly.