Sri Lanka’s timid capitulation brings about an early end to the Boxing Day Test. Our choice of afternoon plans is between sitting in Federation Square topping up the tan or contracting chilblains, depending on the mood of the schizo Melbournian weather, or heckling the bloke who gave us the city tour yesterday as today’s victims gather around, eager and unknowing.
Despite struggling to put days to dates in the Christmas to New Year week, I remember it’s Friday and that means one thing. Leading China past St. Paul’s Cathedral and up through Flinders Lane we take in one of the many CBD based branches of Pie Face, a franchise that joyfully capitalises on the Aussie love of one of its signature dishes and seems to outnumber, in Melbourne anyway, the by now traditional but unwelcome fast food joints that engulf other cities worldwide.

The menu is fairly extensive, and the counter is rammed with enticing pies that gurn temptingly back at you from beneath the glass. Plumping for the deal of the day with full coke and cookie accompaniment, the snappily monikered The Stack. Grabbing an outside table we settle down, underneath the dive bombing pigeons and alongside the trams heaving with Boxing Day Sales shoppers, to a late lunch.

The pie-tender brings out the spoils. Seductively slathered in piped mashed potato, an e-number filled pea-based equivalent and topped with gravy thicker than the Sri Lankan opening batsmen’s second innings run out, today’s selection lives up to its name.

Where to begin? I press down with my plastic cutlery on pastry that billows as delightfully as a Melbourne maiden’s summer skirt in a playful south easterly breeze. The knife hacks at the pie top as forlornly as a hapless golfer in the rough. Spotting a way in through the spray-on veg, I hit the steak and cheese. The meat is chunky and tender while the cheese sauce tasked with guarding it from praying plastic forks lacks sharpness. Meanwhile, the gravy tastes like its come from the stockpot of heaven after someone’s enterprisingly added extra Worcester Sauce on the way down. The potato and peas are as anaemic as the cheese yet, combined with the steak and gravy, make for a fine Friday fix.

The nuisance birds would be reminded to not stray too close. Today’s successful trip and the extensive menu mean I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Pie Face. Today’s Steak & Cheese could be next week’s Thai Chicken, or Peppered Steak. Or the week after’s Pigeon Pie.

Think on, Speckled Jim.

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