REVIEW: Work in Progress @patrickfriesen

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Before you ask, no, I did not just accidentally hit publish on an article I’d just started about Twitter. The name of this restaurant is ‘Work in Progress @patrickfriesen’. Work in Progress is the Merivale owned bar in the CBD and for the month of March they’ve enlisted chef Patrick Friesen to take over. Friesen’s Instagram handle is @patrickfriesen, a username he shares with this Twitter user, who describes himself as “a follower of the teachings of Jesus”. Maybe Merivale knew about this other @patrickfriesen and were hoping the connection would bring a more wholesome crowd to their new pop up. Maybe this is all a big ploy to get Friesen more followers than fellow Merivale chef Dan Hong. The name is a little baffling, but being a little baffling is something all Merivale venues do well.

Luckily, Merivale also do well when it comes to hiring chefs who cook great food. You may have eaten a @patrickfriesen dish at Ms G’s or at Papi Chulo, where he’s been head chef since it opened. Similar to Hong, a lot of Friesen’s food could be described as ‘stoner’, and his Work in Progress menu is a celebration of late night Asian snacks, bowls of noodles and fried chicken. A little refined and perfect for those in need of munchies.

They will have to battle through the usual Merivale missteps, including a fit out that looks like the title page of an angsty high school student’s art folder, and an iTunes playlist that tries so hard to please everybody that it pleases nobody. But, these things are easy to overlook with a bowl of wontons in your hand, brilliantly flavourful with pork and pepper and a good chew on the wrapper. Agedashi tofu is served covered in mayo and bonito flakes, as sweet as it is salty.

It only gets better – egg noodles covered in snow crab or duck, the latter soaked with spicy Sichuan and a dessert of fried chicken – Korean style of course, served with ginger or chilli. The Pnomh Penh wings are the best of the fried bird on offer, complete with extra zingy lime and white pepper sauce. That Cambodian combo rarely gets featured in fast food, and it’s great here.

Patrick Friesen has put together a killer menu and it’s clear that he loves the food he’s paying homage to as much as his Twitter doppelganger loves the teachings of Jesus. It’s the kind of spot that deserves a permanent location, like a low-key Mr Wong hole in the wall or something. Just change that soundtrack, for the love of all that is deep fried.

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