I realise what I am about to say could be regarded as heretical by some but I can contain my thinking on this matter not a moment longer. I am so over fancypants restaurants.
I understand chefs are no longer chefs but are in fact artistes and celebrities. And I get it that waiters are no longer waiters but are in fact wonderfully talented, but as yet undiscovered, actors playing a role to appreciative dining audiences every night. However, why must I sit and look up at the waiter while daily specials are coyly recited? Why not type out the specials and attach to the menu? Why?
I don’t care if the oysters are from Coffin Bay because, one, I don’t eat oysters and, two, I don’t think anyone — not even the foodiest of foodies — could tell a Coffin Bay oyster from a Streaky Bay oyster. You do realise that I have just raised the ire of the South Australian Oyster Fanciers Association?
I am on a mission to reform fancypants restaurants from their wayward ways. Let me get to the point. Men know what I am getting at when I say never order the barramundi or any other fish fillet because, with these maincourse choices costing $38 and more, there is never enough food on the plate.
By my reckoning a main course should contain more than the equivalent of three matchboxes of fish. Ladies, do you know what we men think when such an order arrives? We are thinking, that’s not enough. I am ravenous. She has ordered the risotto for $32 and she gets more food. I can eat my fish in four mouthfuls. Three if no one’s looking. That’s more than $10 a mouthful. That main course will be gone along with my $38 in three minutes eating.
I’ll have to stretch this. I can’t get too far ahead of my dining companion or I’ll look like a caveman. But I am starving. Me need food right now.
Besides, I need to get something into my stomach before it starts rumbling. And as any fancypants restaurant diner knows, it is not a good look to have a rumbling or indeed any errant noises emanating from the general vicinity of your abdomen. See, not a caveman at all.
Here’s how to fix the problem. Just as menus have gluten-free, low-fat and vegan symbols, main courses should come with an index rating. Stay with me on this. Each course gets rated against a normal meal equivalent where one NME has a value of 1.0 and which equates to say chops and three veg.
A $38 barramundi fillet on this scale would have an NME rating of 0.6, add a $12 side of chat potatoes at an NME rating of 0.4, and bring your meal up to one normal meal equivalent at a total cost of $50.
Next issue in fancypants restaurants: plates. Restaurant plates are like housing. Plates and houses have grown whereas restaurant tables and block sizes have shrunk. We are now in a situation where supersized plates, rather like suburban McMansions, are all but bumping into each other on the table.
There are now mezzanine wire structures that are placed on tables so as to deliver more space. The era of high-rise dining has arrived. I know big plates are your canvas, artiste-chefs, but this plate-size arms race must stop.
Going to a fancypants restaurant today is like going to church years ago. These are reverential places that would benefit from a bit more questioning of authority. Does anyone know the penalty for my sin of restaurant heresy?