Big news in Sydney this week is Restaurants in recession: Sydney kitchens face harsh winter. The comments are worth a read even if the article is a run-of-the mill SMH offering.
Also from SMH there’s Appetite for Sydney: our campaign to support restaurants offering deals “including minute steak with French fries, salad and a glass of wine or beer for $25, or two courses and two bottles of premium wine (minimum four people) for $75 a person”, pre-empting similar usually on offer in October via the Good/Sydney Food Festival or whatever name it’s going by in 2012.
When I’m over something I’m over it. Not even this is enough to tempt me. I can’t imagine why.
Despite their best efforts SMH doesn’t have great cred with readers. Mostly when SMH provides a list of best foodie anything there’s a flurry of comments citing the real world beyond the CBD/eastern suburbs/inner west… and fair enough. I guess the reviewers don’t get a big taxi allowance from Fairfax but neither do diners further afield.
I’m thinking even SMH’s endeavours aren’t going to save the gastronomic sinking ships. At best they’ll shift where people who were already dining out for lunch or post-work dinners are spending their dollars but won’t significantly attract an influx of
All this led me to reminisce…
It’s been quite a while since I was a regular restaurant patron. Once it was a habitual part of hectic & heady work days. I benefited from dining at fabulous and/or well known restaurants: occupational wining & dining. Since I wasn’t paying I wasn’t too fussy, enjoyed the artificial sense of entitlement, and a few too many glasses of wine.
Nowadays I mostly make our dinner at home, and when I want a restaurant experience I occasionally:
in the snootiest voice I can muster, decline the G.O.’s request for a reservation for 2 at 8pm.
cook, throw the food on a plate or serve it with a shitty attitude. Then hover and ask “is everything all right?”
for variety, forgo the shitty attitude and make a nice meal out of ingredients I select, cook how & when I like but not put the meal on the table when we’re hungry… maybe an hour or more later when the bottle of wine is empty and we have barely strength & wit to use a knife & fork.
omit or substitute ingredients randomly with no explanation.
serve the salad or veges slightly later than the main in a side bowl as if it’s a separate dish, sometimes only after enquiry from the G.O. as to its whereabouts, and pretend they are an exorbitant extra rather than include them as part of the meal. If we’re fine dining I’ll do this for the potato side as well.
reply, “it’s a vegetable” when the G.O. queries the identity of an item on his plate. Can’t have him being better informed than me.
prepare the G.O.’s steak the way I want rather than as he prefers and execute a contemptuous shrug should he have the audacity to mention it.
serve what we call “leftovers”. They’re cheap but if you tart them up quite acceptable. We enjoy them frequently and are honest about it. Not quite as restaurant though as recycled chips or other nasties from the probably-not-so-urban myths of the commercial kitchen.
avoid making eye contact or being in the vicinity of the G.O. for at least 30 minutes after asking him what he’d like for dinner.
omit putting a tablet in the dishwasher so the wine glasses entertain via a visual history. Ruby Woo or Russian Red?
find the G.O.’s wallet after dinner and extract most of the notes, and look at him accusingly if there’s not enough for a tip.
Also, I have mastered the illusion of eye-bulgingly priced restaurant tipples: tap water, wine from Dan Murphy’s & coffee from the machine taste just like those on offer at a restaurant.
… all for the cost of ingredients and electricity to cook & run the dishwasher.