Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


What if newspaper editors sacked their restaurant reviewers and employed truck drivers to write them instead?

There’d be less of this:
... the tiramisu is a studied but respectful deconstruction ... mains are artfully strewn ... the decent-enough $54 rib eye steak comes with a sauce (red wine) that I think we paid extra for. ... It's Texas meets Chiang Mai ... comes with mustard ice-cream ... the purist in me is screaming ... truffled butter with the house-baked rolls, an amuse bouche, a pre-dessert palate cleanser ... fish is a better bet if food miles are an issue ... Aztec-inspired dishes informed by his recent six-week field trip ... the menu doesn't follow the typical gradient of antipasti, zuppa, primi piatti, but respects its spirit by moving on to braised goat from the wood oven.
And more of this:
Bimbo’s is one of the old-timers among the eating places along the Hume Highway. It’s at Bargo, about 60 miles out of Sydney. The roadhouse is close to the highway but there’s a huge parking area alongside, and getting off the road is no problem. Day or night, you’ll always find a couple of rigs parked there.

Into Bimbo’s I waltzed. The restaurant is big, much bigger than you’d reckon from the outside. There were eight blokes in blue singlets demolishing T-bones when I arrived and yet the joint seemed empty. I counted seats for 58 at 26 tables. Everything looked bright and clean. The tables were Formica and chrome and the floor was vinyl squares.

It was in the middle of the day and the room was good and airy, helped by the big windows. They give you a clear view of the highway and the parking lot, so you’re the first to know if someone tries to knock off your rig.

A pleasant woman with big brown eyes and arched eyebrows came up and gave me the menu. She reminded me of the mother of an old girlfriend of mine and I didn’t know whether to feel hungry or guilty.

Anyhow the menu was huge. The sheila was back in a flash, because speed is what Bimbo’s is all about, but you’d need to do a course in speed reading to get through all the items. There must be a hundred of them. I had time to see you could get breakfast food and two soups, and she was saying What would you like. By golly she reminded me of my girlfriend’s old woman, except she knew what I would like and did her darndest to see I didn’t get it. Still, that was a lot of miles ago.

I said What’s your best steak and she said T-bone and solved a lot of problems. I’d joined another bloke at the table and he was a bit more fastidious. "They serve Chinese meals," he said brightly and then ordered a salmon salad, which shows you the sort of mind he must have.

The sheila asked me if I wanted my steak with salad or vegetables, and I said salad. So she brought vegetables. She even acted like that other sort! With the meal came a huge helping of peas, diced carrots and mashed potatoes burying the T-bone.

The steak was tough. I tried to cut it without much luck and the cove opposite gave me his knife, which had a bit of edge left on it. It was better, but I had to work hard on the meat. Still, there was plenty of it. You’d never starve at Bimbo’s. The Chinese food fancier did better with his salmon salad. He got a whole tin of red salmon on his plate and enough salad to suggest the cook was trying to clear the refrigerator so he could put the beer in. He finished the salmon a long time before I knocked off my last bit of steak. It was tasty but just didn’t like the idea of being sliced or chewed. The steak cost $1.70 and the salmon salad $1.50.

I had a milk shake for 22 cents and a double ice cream with flavouring for 15 cents. Both items were good and the ice cream acted like cold putty, filling the grooves the meat had cut in my throat.

Maybe I just struck a bad day. I’ll go back, because everything else I liked, and just to be reminded of an old flame gave me something to think about for the rest of the journey.

Bimbo’s, Bargo. 24 hour service. Toilets. Shower block. Parking – huge area. Distillate. Ice. TV. Motel accommodation alongside. No juke box. Not air conditioned.

By Bluey Tucker in Truck & Bus Transportation magazine, May 1974, page 105.

UPDATE 29/1/13

More comments, memorabilia and pictures at Tim Blair's blog.


Melbourne Girl said...


Tracy B said...

Sounds like a dozen road houses we stopped at in the '70's driving up and down the west coast - Nanutara, Nullagine, Auski... tough steaks, tougher staff, huge horizons.

Tom said...

Bluey Tucker is a friggin' legend - and that's from someone who has reviewed food for a living!

Eyes Bigger Than Belly said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! :) Thank you for the laugh! :)

Dr. Alice said...

You, my friend, have been Blairalanched. Congratulations.