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Bat Country – Fear And Loathing In Las Randwick

By Daniel Hutton on October 9, 2014 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

Until about a month ago, I’d often heard the name Hunter S. Thompson mentioned in conversation and referenced in print, but I had never actually taken the time to read any of his work. That is, until I came across a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in my father-in-law’s bookcase and I dived head first into Thompson’s drug-addled rollercoaster ride of debauchery and misadventure.

The Spot’s latest bar-cum-restaurant, Bat Country, borrows its name from what is arguably Fear and Loathing’s best scene, and the Hunter S. Thompson references certainly don’t end there. The décor is littered with discreet licks of the Thompson brush, from the cockfighting rooster above the bar referencing The Rum Diary, to the motorcycle headlamps a la Hell’s Angels that illuminate the booths. Even the toilets – the walls of which are plastered floor to ceiling with 1970s Rolling Stone magazines – pay homage to the godfather of gonzo.

Adding to the vibe of the place, many of the materials used to construct the booths, bar and ceiling are recycled. A lot of the timber was taken from the demolition site of the old Caltex servo on Coogee Bay Road, the booths are made from granite crates used in the construction of the Sydney Opera House, the original chemist’s sign (from the previous tenant) hangs proudly (and somewhat sentimentally) above the bar, and the bar top itself is made from a dining table thrown out on the street just around the corner.

While it was tempting to just sit at the bar and suck back on pints of Young Henrys (two different drops available on tap), any one of about seventeen cocktails on offer, and possibly even a few shots of mescal, I had built up quite an appetite so I proceeded to the booths at the back of the establishment and ordered up a small banquet.

First out was a roasted head of garlic served with sea salt and charred sourdough, followed by a small plate of truffle salami with marinated pimento and olives – the perfect appetisers. The more substantial dishes were not far behind, and included Kitchen Chief Tim’s salt and pepper squid with wasabi mayo and dressed greens, a Bat Country take on san choy bow with shredded free-range chicken, bean shoots, shallots, coriander and roasted peanuts heaped into crisp lettuce cups, and a succulent scotch fillet charred medium rare, sliced and served with hot sauce and chimichurri. For what is essentially ‘bar food’, this was pretty bloody good fare.

Bat Country is a welcome addition to the culinary landscape up at The Spot. It’s easy-going, the staff members are super friendly and it’s far more than just a bar (in fact, it’s also open for breakfast and lunch). That said, next time I visit I’ll definitely be leaving the Great White Whale at home, booking a cab and sampling a few more of Bat Country’s liquid offerings!

Bat Country

Address | 32 St Pauls St, Randwick
Phone | (02) 9398 6694
Email | enquiries@batcountry.com.au
Website | www.batcountry.com.au
Open | Mon-Sat 7am-midnight; Sun 7am-10pm
Prices | Brekky $6-$16.50, Lunch $15-$16.50 Dinner $5-$17
Seats | 80
Cards | Visa, Master, Amex
Licensed | Fully licensed

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