This is a club I’d never even heard of. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a place called Edensor Park in Sydney. Not quite a park, either, as it appears to be more like a piece of cookie-cutter sprawl in Sydney’s mammoth jigsaw.
So what brought me to the wild west? A request from a reader. As it goes, I was asked if I could do a recipe for salt & pepper squid, just as it’s done on Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline. Apparently the one they did at Sydney’s King Tom Club came really close to the stuff he’d eaten in Croatia and the only way I could get a sense of how it’s done is try it for myself.
45 minutes on the train out to Cabramatta, then another 25 minutes on a bus, plus about ten minutes to walk to the club. It was a bit of an adventure, actually, but we made it in the end. Just in time for lunch.
Being a club meant we had to sign in; walking past old Croatian dudes chugging back pivo and gossiping about nonsense. I bet their wives were happy to have them out of the house. Eventually we found the restaurant, smaller than I was expecting, with a couple more old Croatian dudes tucking into big plates of food.
The menu is relatively brief, covering the usual meaty options you’d expect at such a place. Complimentary bread and foil-wrapped portions of butter hit the table and a few swigs of Ožujsko whilst the menu gets a once over.
And here we have it. The thing I dragged the other half from one side of Sydney to the other for. Salt & pepper calamari (15). This is far from the stuff you get in any pub or Asian restaurant. It isn’t coated in a crunchy layer. It isn’t oily. It’s simple tubes of baby squid, sliced, dusted in flour and deep-fried until just cooked. A bit of salt and pepper and it’s done.
This is exactly as I’d expect it in Croatia, as well. Juicy, tender and not over-seasoned. A bit of lemon juice is all it needs. Simply delicious. The mayo on the side went virtually untouched.
The other half was craving a bit more seafood and thought the whiting (27) would be perfect. Chef Velimir Malenica told us it usually comes as one larger fish, but he could only get small whiting from the market that day. Well these were some pretty big small whiting!
Thanks to my voracious appetite I helped out a bit, and in true unadulterated Croatian fashion, the fish was cooked as simply as possible. Scored, pan-fried, seasoned and served whole with a few buttered beans. Perfection.
A complimentary bowl of kiseli kupus (sour cabbage) joins my Croatian special (26); a mixed grill of cevapi, pork, chicken and beef. More buttered beans and some homemade ajvar relish. A bit of a meat-fest, but that’s what I was craving.
Palačinke (9) for dessert was a must. Two warm and soft pancakes smeared with rosehip jam and a little powdered sugar. Oh man, I miss these things. I’d love to say that I’ll be back, but due to its distance, it’s highly unlikely. At least I got an idea of how the calamari was made, which you’ll see real soon.