Eateries that leave a bad taste
EVERYBODY loves a lagoon, especially a blue lagoon.
As we bask in our so- called winter, it is certainly hot enough to swim, judging by these past few days of glorious weather.
That being the case, a new swimming lagoon at Townsville sounds like a great idea.
But I’m not so sure people will be so keen on the concept of a 6ha lagoon and associated hotels, restaurants and cafes as proposed by Sydney’s Pure Projects in its visionary work for Townsville City Council.
The company has produced a Transformation of Townsville report or reports which I understand have come at considerable cost.
A saltwater lagoon on The Strand is perhaps its one big idea in a review aimed at reactivating the city and its surrounds.
They say there are three options for the location of this lagoon.
They are Dean Park, the former state- owned Queensland Rail container depot on Saunders St which was handed to Aurizon when it listed on the sharemarket in 2010 and is now vacant, and The Strand.
Pure Projects says The Strand is the best option.
But when you look at the report the area they mean is not strictly The Strand but the seabed off Strand beach adjacent to Marina’s Peninsula.
Evidently, they want to reclaim 6ha of seabed. Well, good luck with that. How many years has the port been seeking approvals to reclaim more seabed for its expansion? Ten years?
What about redeveloping the Rockpool? After all, the report says the feedback from people consulted is that the Rockpool is dirty and slimy and, yes, sometimes it is.
But there is no mention why this could not be a site.
I suppose it’s fine to be visionary and to get people excited.
But we need ideas which are achievable. We also need a council willing to work with local people and organisations. Sadly, that has been lacking for some time. WHEN you eat out these days, one thing becomes very apparent. There are restaurants that don’t think they’re lucky to have you as a customer. They think you are lucky to be there.
At least, that’s how it feels at a growing number of fine- dining eateries.
Be afraid when the waiter asks you: “Do you know how this works?” and the answer isn’t order, eat, pay, leave.
Be afraid when they don’t write anything down, especially if you’ve all ordered three courses and your group includes a locavore, a fruitarian and someone allergic to food.
And be afraid when they spend 15 minutes telling you about how amazing the specials are – but don’t tell you how much they cost.
These days you don’t book, you “reserve your experience”.
You’re told to “engage your service staff” rather than ask a waiter. And you don’t read the menu you “explore it”.
But there’s no such indulgence when it comes to the bill: you just pay it – or else.
The fun starts when you try to make a reservation. Often it can only be done online, where you have to offer up personal details like your email address, home address and proof of virginity of your firstborn.
Then you’re given a choice of time that suits them – not you. On a weekend, it’s usually 6pm or 8.15pm.
Some places don’t take bookings. Instead, they leave you at the bar knocking back wine at $ 15 a glass, until they tell you how lucky you are they’ve found you a table.
The first challenge is ordering the wine. You pick the cheapest wine on the menu, which turns out to be a $ 65 bottle of red, then watch the waiter sneer at you for being a cheapskate despite the fact you can get the same bottle at Dan Murphy’s for 10 bucks.
Then you turn your attention to the food – that’s if you can get past the ridiculous descriptions on the menu.
“Pickled organic cucamelon handpicked at sunrise floating in a chaga sea with Glacier 51 toothfish seared with sustainable- forest tea- tree smoke.”
Good luck with that one. It may smell like sweaty armpits and look like snot, but you’ve paid $ 75 a head for the privilege, so you have to eat it.
Ingredients are also getting increasingly ridiculous. For instance, at one restaurant you can eat Aged Santa Claus Melon. Some of the veggies in my fridge crisper are aged – I wonder if I can charge $ 30 a head for those?
And at another you can have a “Moonlight flat rusty wire oyster with lemon mytle”.
What’s to follow? Car bonnet crostini with engine oil- infused truffles?
There’s often also a heavy dose of irony in items such as peanut “sand” and seafood “crumpets” – not to mention a “snag snizzle” which I am pretty sure is nothing like the Bunnings one.
It’s no wonder you end up with the waiter – who thinks his shiso doesn’t stink – sniggering at you because you don’t know the difference between lardo and crudo, galantine and ballotine and kale and kelp.
Last Saturday night I had the dubious privilege of paying $ 25 for several pieces of sashimi the size of my small toenail.
The food was overpriced, the serves were small and the service was terrible.
Our duck main was $ 37 but we had to remind them to bring it.
But funnily enough the bill magically appeared in seconds, with the waiter hovering over us with his iPad so we could pay on the spot ( this is the waiter we tried half the night to wave down).
Places don’t even need to be highend to be a rip- off. Pizza joints increasingly fling a bit of cheese and tomato on a circle of dough and charge you $ 45.
Friends of mine went to a hipster pizza joint recently and were unceremoniously given the bill the minute they finished eating. Even though they’d just ordered another glass of wine, they were told there were people waiting.
There’s the small dish of olives on the table you didn’t order ( but appear on the bill for $ 6).
There are also often “shared plates” which are tiny, cost a bomb and come out when it suits the kitchen, not the guests.
Hmmm … makes me not want to turn up at all. Think I’ll stay in tonight. Maybe I’ll just get fish and chips. It will probably be terrible, but at least I won’t need a magnifying glass to see it and a mortgage to afford it.