Hurtling towards the finishing line and it was the perfect time to have a date that was just hanging out. Date #16 was my good friend Ryan, who loves music, is unbeatable at squash and is extremely good at cryptic crosswords. I knew the deal: he would mock me, and I would give him just enough shit to get a bit of bite back. We’d laugh and talk and then he’d say something crass but funny. We headed up to Tinakori Rd to try the Ka Pai Moolahlah burger at Charlie Bill. It was simple, tasty and what you saw was what you got, which was also a rather delightful reflection on our lunch date.
Often when you’re feeling a bit low, or a bit lonely, or a bit sorry for yourself, it takes a good mate to just give you a bit of stick and bring you back down to earth. For me this inevitably involves being made fun of. If it’s followed by “I’m joking love, I love you really” then all the better.
Ryan was one of my first friends in Wellington and began our date by asking me what it was like being an over confident over achiever. I was of course offended. He was joking. “Over-confident’s probably a bit mean.”
We were seated in a romantic candle-lit table for two, and were brought a crisp glass of pinot gris. Since he thought I was so confident, I asked him if he thinks men are terrified of women? “No…not terrified, but it’s called Dutch Courage for a reason.” Aah, alcohol and dating. I could relate.
Ryan was a delightful date; he’s extremely quick-witted and is a great story-teller. It’s not all laughter and fun though. He’s shorter than me, and he once asked me if given the opportunity, would I give him an inch of my height? Absolutely not, I told him. He’s still offended.
Our burgers arrived. The Charlie Bill burger was a simple construction. It featured a sizeable thai beef patty, shanghai and cucumber coleslaw with coriander and mint, and a chunky tomato ‘fondue’. The cornbread bun was perfect in shape and crisp but soft. The gourmet potatoes were incredible.
Ryan is self-proclaimed food trash, so I wanted to take him somewhere a little bit posh. Charlie Bill is very cute - it only has about 10 tables, and it’s nestled down the Wadestown end of Tinakori Rd. The food is unpretentious though; it was a great balance of flavours and the theme was pulled off perfectly well. We dug in with our hands, but as with many burgers, had to knife and fork it part way through.
I asked about dating disasters. He recalled, like so so many our age, very little in the way of actual date stories. He did remember being 14 though and getting dumped on the train. He knew she was going to dump him.
All his friends were around, joking and what not, and this girl (extremely bravely in my opinion) approached them. “I don’t think we should go out anymore” she said. “Yes we should” he replied. “I don’t think it’s working” she threw him back. “Oh I think it is” he quickly retorted. She walked off embarrassed. In front of all his mates? He won.
I was giggling. I can’t do justice to the entertaining execution of the story with words on a screen, but this really is one very funny man. He also reiterated the story of when they had a ping-pong table at an old flat and he beat all opponents that dared to face him, to the extent he started playing with a shoe instead of a bat, amongst other things. He finally lost when trying to play with a 50c piece; “there’s pride in your work, and then there’s arrogance.”
The coleslaw was a good mix of flavours, with those fresh herbs, and the celery added the requisite crunch. The cornbread bun was a real highlight - those wee crispy bits on top were a textural sensation against the softness of the patty.
We continued talking smack, much like we’d done a few days earlier on my birthday. We bitched about the opposite sexes and at one point it came up in conversation that I was 27. He looked up shocked - “Jeez, when did you turn 27?” I looked at him. “Um, on Tuesday. We went out for coffee and hung out all afternoon?” I told him he was rubbish, and he admitted it was a rookie error, especially on a date. I just laughed.
With that, he walked me back to work and we said goodbye. The burger was great and the date was just us hanging out as usual. Ideal really.
The vital stats:
The burger was well done, but Ryan thinks we would have had way more fun at dinner, and I was on my lunch break so time was slightly limited.
I could have hung out all afternoon, but it was still a great lunch date - 8/10.
Thanks to Leigh at Charlie Bill for being such a lovely host. Delicious!