Following the sad passing of the bar’s namesake in October last year things went quiet for a couple of months, but now the beloved art deco, attic bar is back in action. Madame Fling Flong has descended the stairs and taken over the ground floor tapas bar formerly known as Soni’s. And while downstairs hasn’t quite managed to shake the sterile feel of days past, it does have the benefit of big windows that allow you to watch the pedestrian parade along King Street while you nibble on a bowl of peanuts and crisp-fried anchovies.
No one need have feared for the welfare of the Madame, she hasn’t changed a jot. Upstairs, the walls remain a brilliant shade of red, the wasabi peas are in pride of place and a hodge-podge collection of chintzy sofas and antique chairs still fills the room.
They go hard on the house "Martinis" here, with a top ten that includes a Jaffatini, Bellini Martini and a Bloody Martini. The combination of hung tomato essence and pepper-infused vodka stands out amongst the other, far sweeter varieties, but sadly we're not the only ones who think so. They are fresh out of the tomato essence which takes 48 hours to make.
The sangria makes a great second choice. It is light and only slightly sweet and you could easily find yourself at the bottom of a carafe before you remember that it’s alcoholic.
The serious difference at the new Madame Fling Flong is the food. They have clearly put some thought into the new tapas menu. Choose a couple of plates and get snacking, or if you like a theme to your grazing, they have mezze plates called paddock, pen and barn; garden, plot and patch; and river, ocean and stream – or to put it simply, meat, vegetarian, and seafood. They are ideal for the indecisive. The carnivore’s choice comes with juicy chorizo, rich morcilla, chutney, house pickles, bresaola and tender kangaroo fillet on a garlicky eggplant mouse.
Surprisingly, it is the veggie plate that gets our nod. There is blackened corn with masses of garlic butter and a rock star salad of pickled beetroot, labne, toasted almonds, pumpkin purée and mint. The king of the platter is the pumpkin and gorgonzola arancino, a golden egg-shaped rice ball with a molten cheese centre. It comes with a zingy salsa verde elevating it far above your average, deep-fried bar snack.
A dessert of poached rhubarb on dense, old-fashioned vanilla cake with thyme cream and honeycomb is sweet but a little bland – next time we’ll be ordering another round of arancini instead. It’s good to see Fling Flong’s back at work in time for the cool weather, which is when this cosy small bar will really come into its own.