How do some people manage to get their faces in the paper? I pondered this question as I supped on a late and leisurely yum cha at Sen’s this afternoon (despite an average reputation for take away, Sen’s has a good range of freshly prepared yum cha – I continue to mourn the passing of the yum cha trolleys, but the food is good, and staffed mostly by Asian students the service tends to be changeable but today excellent). Anyway, back to the faces in papers issue. My interest was piqued by an article in the Sunday Age’s magazine “Sunday Life”. It promised to tell me the secrets of “what makes an eatery worthy of a repeat performance”. But alas, aside from obviousisms such as consistently good food and warm professional service (hmmm where have heard this before?), the article focused on annoying profiles of “The France-Soir Fans” (Melbourne), “The Inner-City Experimentalists” (Sydney), and “The Flavour Addict”. Wealthy (one must assume) hedonists who were keen to avoid cooking at all costs. The Experimentalists (oh, please!) were so radical as to refrain from installing a proper kitchen in their converted Sydney warehouse (must do wonders for the re-sale value) because they eat out six nights a week. The Flavour Addict ate out most days at The Pier, where staff have “catered to their quirks” such as self-applied salad dressing (how radical) and helping his wheel-chair bound wife (I’m sure she would slap me if I referred to this as a “quirk” of hers). I found this article to be more about the attitudes and personalities of some diners than anything to do with what makes a restaurant great. To me much of the pleasure in eating out is the search for the great meal, the ‘great time’. I’m not sure how I would feel if I reached the zenith of my search and lazily repeated it every night. It sounded such a hollow pursuit to me. Sure I’d eat out every night if I could, and I’d eat great food at home every night if I could, and I’d hold or attend great dinner parties every night if I could. And I’d be just as happy with some nice soup and crumpets every night. And isn’t this the point? There is so much to be enjoyed, so much to be experienced and tasted. Rather than envying these poor buggers who eat in the same establishment restaurants night after night, I felt pity for what this article portrayed as a profound poverty of spirit of culinary adventure.
GW the HRB