MATT PRE­STON airs a few gripes about restau­rants.

He may en­joy eat­ing out as much as the next per­son, but Matt Pre­ston still has a few gripes about the way some Aus­tralian restau­rants roll circa 2019.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - @mattscra­vat @MattsCra­vat Matt has a pop at food writ­ers – like him­self – who spout off about ‘the next big thing’ at de­li­

I LOVE eat­ing out. Well, I just love eat­ing – in, out, wher­ever. But a few things oc­ca­sion­ally bug me about cafés and restau­rants. My sis­ter gets narky about a beau­ti­ful In­sta­grammable break­fast loaded with flow­ers and pomegranat­e seeds, but the things that make me mad are far more in­fu­ri­at­ing.


Great de­sign isn’t about a pic­ture in a mag­a­zine, but how spe­cial it makes din­ers feel and how it en­hances their night. If the room is too dark to see the food and too noisy to hear what the other side of the ta­ble is say­ing, then the fit-out has failed. Well, un­less you want to go with bor­ing, ugly friends who you don’t want to see or hear.


Surely these are past their use-by date, along with their dan­gly cloth-wrapped cords. How about go­ing back to LED down­lights, wall conches, chan­de­liers or even can­dles for a change?


It’s not that hard. We’ve had our dessert and you’ve de­liv­ered the cof­fees. This means the meal is com­ing to an end; the fi­nal act of the evening is about to un­fold. Isn’t it ob­vi­ous we’ll want our bill? This is the good bit of the evening for the restau­rant when the bill gets paid and the wait­staff dis­cover whether you’re go­ing to stiff them for the tip, so why do they seem to dis­ap­pear at the end of the evening? Just bring the bill, take our money and we can all go home.


We shouldn’t have to get mad about this. Aren’t chefs al­ways telling us they’re in the flavour biz-er-ness? Now, I love ex­per­i­men­tal cook­ery as much as the next pre­ten­tious food wanker, but if you want me to be your guinea pig, serve your pro­to­types on a cut-price menu like Ben Shewry used to do at At­tica on Tues­day nights. Every chef (apart from maybe a dozen trail­blaz­ers around the world like Cen­tral’s Vir­gilio Martinez, Noma’s René Redzepi or Mas­simo Bot­tura) should run every new dish through the same prism – if it’s not de­li­cious it ain’t go­ing on the menu.


Is it re­ally that hard to take some book­ings for those who need to get a babysit­ter or have to travel to eat at your place? Surely you want to give those peo­ple re­as­sur­ance they can eat at your place? Oh, and don’t try and sell it like it’s a ben­e­fit to us the cus­tomer – that is the height of hide.


First up, my dear som­me­lier chums, does the pres­ence of nat­u­ral wine on your list mean all the other wine is un­nat­u­ral? Sec­ond, I love nat­u­ral wine of the min­i­mal-in­ter­ven­tion va­ri­ety – the purest ex­pres­sion of the grapes – as long as it tastes de­li­ciously of wine or even grapes. What makes me mad is when that much-lauded bot­tle of nat­u­ral wine with the trendy la­bel and hefty price tag tastes like dodgy farm­house cider, kero or a strange amal­gam of vine­gar and dish­wa­ter. Please, my dear som­me­lier friend, don’t sell me faulty wine and claim it’s just edgy – even if you and the wine­maker have match­ing man buns. Call me old-fash­ioned, but I’d rather have a nice clas­sic chardon­nay that tastes of burnt matches.


“En­joy!”, “How is ev­ery­thing?”, “Did you like that?” are all still re­ally an­noy­ing. The only time a mem­ber of the floor team should ap­pear at your ta­ble is when you need some­thing or they’re de­liv­er­ing some­thing. Oth­er­wise stop in­ter­rupt­ing my con­ver­sa­tion with my friends be­cause you’re fish­ing for com­pli­ments or a tip.


No one is eat­ing slimy açaí bowls any more, so no more hav­ing to pre­tend to like them. Also on the way out is the bowl con­cept – dis­ap­pear­ing the same way as grey slates used as plates and wooden plat­ters in­stead of bor­ing old hy­gienic white china.The fi­nal nail in the bowl’s cof­fin, how­ever, will be when peo­ple finally re­alise we can just as eas­ily or­gan­ise in­gre­di­ents on top of a carb or grain of choice on a plate as a bowl.The con­cept still hangs on in food courts and pa­leo cafés, how­ever, in the same way the smear and the black plate is yet to die out in those as­pir­ing win­ery restau­rants where the young chef has a phi­los­o­phy that’s longer than his (it’s al­most al­ways a him) CV.


Over the past few months a weird trend has been emerg­ing on In­sta­gram – my badly lit, ugly pic­tures of home-cooked food have gar­nered more likes than the pretty pic­tures I’ve laboured over in a fancy restau­rant. Is this the lat­est man­i­fes­ta­tion of the au­then­tic­ity trend? At least it puts dishes back to where they should be – food for the stom­ach and soul, not the eyes.


It’s prob­a­bly be­cause I’m old, but I’d rather cook than get a luke­warm take­away de­liv­ered by an un­der­paid driver who is sac­ri­fic­ing a liv­ing wage to help boost the prof­its of some huge multi­na­tional who doesn’t pay tax on the money it’s mak­ing here. That makes me mad.As does the fact the road (and the park­ing out­side my fave lo­cal) seems to be in­creas­ingly clogged with free­lance food couri­ers – even if it’s not. Please note that when you get old it’s as easy to get mad about imag­ined prob­lems as real ones.


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