Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Athena and the Minotaur

It's the first day of summer. It's grey out there, there's a chill in the air, and I'm getting a cold …

Oh and it’s official, I’m going straight to hell on the back of a Minotaur, cos here I go with some gossip. It’s a tale of classic Greek foes facing off in a silent assault on service standards in Hobart. The combatants: Athena’s (lovely location on the pier) and Mezethes (great atmosphere in the old Mr Wooby’s spot). Both serve classic Greek food with not a little focus on seafood.

Confronted, as I was, by a new acquaintance in Barcelona (the bar, not the city), I was left mouth agape by the tale she told of her experience the previous night at Athena’s (the restaurant, not the goddess’ house):

“We were kept waiting for our food for two hours, we were really patient but finally we got a bit annoyed, but when we complained to the man and asked for a free drink as compensation we were told … ‘I’m not saying sorry for anything, I didn’t do anything wrong’. We thought this was a bit rough and wanted to complain about his bad attitude … but then we found out this guy was the owner!”

Wow! Stunning ennui from someone who obviously doesn’t feel the need to ensure repeat business!

The irony of this story is that on the night in question I was bound for Mezethes with a gaggle of raucous 30-something women, with whom I’d been drinking for the previous couple of hours. We were late, we were loud, we tried not to be obnoxious. We broke glasses, we spilt drinks, we sang loudly with the musicians roaming the room, and a diner at another table (quite rightly) shot in our direction a “Look at Moiye”. We had a fabulous time, the food was okay (yeah, I know, just okay), but the service was warm and hospitable and friendly and accommodating. It was as if the only thing that mattered was us having a good time. Such a different experience to my new acquaintance’s encounter with the management at Athena’s … and so much cheaper!

I went to Athena’s when they first opened, hoping for an experience akin to the exquisite Greek seafood I encountered years earlier at Nick’s in St Kilda. I was so under-whelmed by the seafood and by the service at Athena’s that it has never occurred to me to go back. Similarly, whenever I speak with anyone else who has dined there, I hear a similar tale.

But that’s okay, cos by the sounds of it, the management of Athena’s is doing just fine with one-off diners. They seem to be quite happy to leave the repeat business to Mezethes.


Anonymous said...

I actually think that's really funny, especially because I keep hearing the same sort of nice things about Mezethes.
Am I allowed to tell nasty stories about them or would it burst the bubble?

I had a friend who worked at Mezethes but he had to quit because he was too disgusted by what went on in the kitchen.

Come to think of it, I think I'll leave it unsaid, but personally, I'd rather eat at the China Diner.

Anonymous said...

oooohhh that is unfair - you must tell more. after all this is a tell all site! take the hobart restaurant bitch as example and tell us all pleeeaassse- we demand to know. if it is difficult then change the names to protect the innocent - but PUNISH THE GUILTY. you dont have to be nasty just honest - something this town could have a little more of thank you very much.......i wont go on.


Georgie Weston said...

I agree with Eisha, tell us more about the dark side of Mezethes ... there's plenty of room on the back of that Minotaur!

Georgie Weston said...

Coffee Confessional ... snippets of a conversation ...

Coffee Addict:
“I was So Young then... Criterion was Cumquat in those days, and owned by Robyn and Catherine from Lickerish. Steve was working at Retro and was in negotiations with Robyn & Catherine. Steve, bless him, makes it better than anybody. I generally grab a Hudson's (double shot, standard) at 0630, which means I'm now starting work a full half-hour later than I was before they opened. I was cutting back for a while and going the green tea, with the mantra "green tea: it's just like coffee only not". This morning's coffee was very good. So many people from here (I'm not) had their first Hudson's at Tullamarine (I did), and all have reported abysmal experiences. I wonder if the Hobart Huddos know they're missing business because of their appalling Melbourne cousins? I have to go do some work, now. Glad I had the double...”

I'm secretly addicted to Hudson's ... my answer to the Tullamarine problem is grab some sushi from upstairs (near international) and take a seat at Rebar (very accommodating wine bar) and sup on sushi and champagne whilst awaiting flight. I have been known to be poured onto a flight to Hobart (acceptable hazard I suppose).

Anonymous said...

Bless you Ms W - just come across your site today and it is long past due that the whacks be laid in. We visit Tas 2 or 3 times a year, Hobart usually in there, and have come to despair of eating out in your fair city. That's not to say that the raw produce isn't fantastic. We make pilgrimages to the Hmong gardeners, the Wursthaus, the oysterers [surely the French have a name for it - huitrines?] with the sole regret that we don't have a kitchen of our own to hand. But eating out? It's merely a necessity to be borne until we get the goodies home. I guess it's not that the food is fairly conventional and the service is erratic, but that the prices being asked are out of keeping with the content. If all I can get in Hobart is ordinary food I'm prepared to pay ordinary prices, but Sydney prices?

All that said, Hobart doesn't have the monopoly on poor service. I had read much about The European in Melbourne and finally got there a couple of weeks ago. Won't be back. I'm too old to put up with the kind of crap that used to be de rigeur at the Black Cat in Fitzroy.