My 7th wedding anniversary is coming up and I’ve been keen to do something special to celebrate. My husband suggested that I think of a restaurant that I’d like to visit and he’d try and get a booking. The place I was really wanting to visit was Berowa Waters Inn, a place you can only get to by boat or seaplane, an iconic Sydney dining institution. Much to my shock and horror after decades of successful trading it has closed its doors.
It followed suit from many other Sydney restaurants in recent months – Manu Fidel and Miguel Maestro’s Apertif, Bilson’s, Manly Pavilion, Cotton Duck, Smith’s on Bayswater, Rambutan, Pier and of course the voluntary administration of the Becasse group of restaurants.
There has been a lot written in the press about it in the last few weeks. People are overwhelmingly saying that they are sick of paying through the nose for fine dining. I night out at one of these establishments will easily set you back upwards of $500 for two people. Who can afford that these days when most people are pinching their pennies?
I think the reality of the situation is that most of us on average incomes don’t go out to fine dining restaurants often at all. A few years ago I used to accompany my husband to quite a few dinners at fine dining restaurants for clients of his, but even big business aren’t forking out lots of money on dining any more. These day’s they’re meeting for casual lunches and drinks instead.
But does that mean that we’re not eating out at all any more? No, I think we’re rediscovering our suburban restaurants that present good value meals. We have a wonderful family Pizza restaurant near us that we absolutely adore for a night out and a great local Thai place that is always tasty and good value.
My problem lies with some mid-tier restaurants out there that are charging patrons 30-40 a main for some pretty average quality food that I could have made at home myself. When you commit to a night at a three hatted restaurant, you can at least expect that you will be paying through the nose. You are at least prepared. But when you go out to a simple Italian bistro and are paying over $300 for your family to eat a few plates of pasta and a few salads, something is not right. Worse still when you bring your own wine or heaven forbid your own birthday cake, you are charged $5 a glass or $5 per plate!
Also I wonder if the popularity of shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules has heralded a shift to better cooking at home? The other night my husband said he felt like having an Indian feast and was about to make a booking at an excellent Indian restaurant near us. I suggested that I could have a go at cooking up a feast for us at home for the fraction of the cost. I think all up the ingredients for the dinner cost around $40, including wine, wheras if we had gone out, we could have spent $150-$200 easily. The best part was that we had enough leftovers for a substantial lunch the next day as well.
How about you? Are you still eating out? Are you creating more ‘restaurant’ meals at home? Also, can anybody suggest a great venue for celebrating my wedding anniversary in style?