We strolled into a restaurant we weren’t familiar with the other day, something one should be very careful about! When I go out to eat, I like a good feed, well cooked and at an affordable price. So the first thing that should have made me suspicious was the price of each dish, closely followed by the description of what I was about to enjoy if I entered the establishment. If you see something like, ‘Filet of Mountain Goat, lightly poached in sour cream and guava juice, served on a bed of seared nettle leaves, with a border of escargot-slime foam’, be very suspicious! I wasn’t I’m afraid to admit and I paid the price, in more ways than one!
You see, (as many of you will be aware), there are two distinct types of eatery to be found around the country. One is the type of place that I visited above. You don’t go there because you’re hungry; you go there essentially to admire a work of art produced by a chef, at considerable expense and using the most exotic ingredients he can dream up, just to impress you. You are supposed to sample little bites of these delicacies, exclaim in rapture at the wonderful new taste treat you have just enjoyed and then hand over half of your outstanding mortgage in payment for the experience! The premises are usually fairly small, exquisitely decorated in some outlandish fashion, but you often have to sit on long benches with no backs to them; not terribly comfortable, but it ensures that you stay fully awake long enough to spend all your money. This is what I would call the ‘right-hand experience’.
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Moving briskly over to the left hand, we come to the other end of the good food trail, the extreme of which is the ‘Bistro’. Now THIS is where you go when you’re hungry! Bistro’s are usually situated in pubs, bowling clubs or RSL’s and they have come a long way in the last twenty years. They almost all serve up good quality, well cooked food at very reasonable prices, but most importantly a man knows he can walk in there, order something like Flathead tails and chips, or fillet steak with a choice of six sauces, plus chips and salad or vegetables, and know that he is going to walk out, an hour later, well filled and well satisfied.
The fancy non-meal in the flashy restaurant may cost you $150.00 a head and you’ll come out full of wonder at what you’ve seen, but just about as hungry as when you went in. In the bistro experience you’ll recall that you couldn’t see the plate for the mass of food on it, you’ll want to sit down somewhere to give your body a chance to digest it all and your wallet will be pretty much as heavy as it was before you went in!
As they say, “You pays yer money and you takes yer choice!”
Of course, there are a vast range of eateries that fall to varying degrees somewhere between these two extremes, the coffee bars, little cafes, bakeries and the inimitable ‘fast-food’ outlets, (though some would say the ‘fast-food’ group don’t actually sell FOOD at all). Of the others, most of them provide a very good service, especially to those who don’t have a lot of time to spare, or a lot of cash to spend, providing everything from light snacks to full-blown meals. We are indeed fortunate here in Australia, to be served by so many, at such high quality, whether it’s English cooking, Chinese, French or even Tibetan – long may they all last!
What type of food do you like to go out for these days?
image: Meurthe et Moselle Tourisme