• Dear Restaurants: please just take things seriously, Yours sincerely, The Customer
  • Dear Restaurants: please just take things seriously, Yours sincerely, The Customer
    Written by Fingers
    Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:27 am

    Dear Restaurants - please just take things seriously. Yours sincerely, The Customer.

    Maybe it's because I'm Italian but I've always loved eating. Dinner was always an event. Everyone HAD to be there, every night 7.00pm. And it was never a simple meal - except for maybe Sunday nights. My mother spent most of the day cooking for that evening. Even now I get great satisfaction from cooking for my family especially my gorgeous wife. I'm lucky that I have traveled a fair bit as well and without fail most of my memories are food related. Whether in Italy, New York, Hong Kong or the year I spent living in Tokyo, food was central to almost everything that I can remember. I can't even eat lunch with a colleague at work without wanting them to try the dish that I'm eating. Am I the only one that senses a theme here?

    Between 1994 and 2007 I lived in an apartment in the Melbourne CBD. Let me be blunt from the outset - I think Melbourne is the best place in Australia for eating. You can get anything you like, at any price - more about my prejudices later. Living in the CBD meant that I had some great eating on my doorstep and would eat out most nights. I found that over the years not a day went by without someone asking my opinion on their chosen restaurant, or asking for a lunch or dinner recommendation. Moreover, I got quietly tired of reading boring, pompous reviews of restaurants where it was more about the abstract analogies the reviewer could use rather than just giving me the truth about the restaurant. To be honest I didn't trust them to be completely impartial. Most of them just sounded like tossers that were more interested in promoting themselves rather than the restaurant, and others were just plain wrong. The advent of Twitter and blogging reaching almost pandemic proportions gave me an easy vehicle to share some of my thoughts on restaurants.

    Before I knew it I was up and going at http://www.saretta.com and I never actually expected anyone to read what I wrote. I wrote them for my own amusement. Occasionally my language isn't for public consumption but I wanted to write as if I was speaking to someone and giving them a totally honest review. I've only just started linking to it from my Twitter account (http://twitter.com/jasaretta) and again if you decide to follow me please be warned that some content may offend!

    Now back to my prejudices. There is no city in Australia where you eat as well as consistently as you do in Melbourne. Before you jump down my throat there are good restaurants everywhere in Australia but as an overall experience Melbourne wins hands down. Sydney has some great restaurants but to even get an average meal you have to pay through the nose. I mean you can't go past Sailor's Thai, Tetsuya or Buon Riccordo and if you ever get the chance drop in to de Vine in the corner of Market and Clarence - you won't find anyone who matches wines to meals like Andreas does. At the top end there are great places to eat everywhere but Melbourne does the mid level restaurant really well. Places like Yu.u, Bamboo House or Da Noi are all absolute pleasures. Oh and Sydney doesn't understand service. Don't ask me why they just don't.

    The other reason for wanting to write was that I think some restaurants just take the piss. They often take liberties that annoy me and don't get me started on spelling mistakes on menus. Come on how hard is it to spell "bolognese"? When I lived in the CBD I used to carry chalk in my pocket and I would fix spelling mistakes on restaurant blackboards until some guy at a cafe in Desgraves Street chased me with a meat mallet for trying to correct the "X" out of "expresso" and adding a "ch" to "snitzel". I guess I wanted to be a restaurant vigilante - keeping the bastards honest. At least that's what I kid myself into believing. Food was too important to me to have people take it lightly. I believe that feeding people is a privilege and should be taken seriously. Whether it's a doughnut at Walker's (Elizabeth and Flinders) or the seafood raviolo in dashi broth at Jacques Reymond, take it seriously and treat it with respect - both these places do by the way.

    So if you get the chance drop by the blog http://www.saretta.com (Why saretta.com and not the blogspot address? Well I got served a plate of karma and made a spelling mistake in the blogspot address!) . You can leave comments. There's no method to how I choose the restaurants to review or how often I write them, but I'd love to hear from you whether you agree or disagree - either way is fine with me.
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