Do you eat out?

by Kristy on July 5, 2012 · 11 comments

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.

My home made indian feast!

My home made indian feast, everything was made from scratch.

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?

  • Natalie @ MummySmiles

    I am very happy to pay for the experience of eating out at a beautiful restaurant. We went to Matt Moran’s restaurant here in Brisbane and I loved eating foods that I would never normally eat or cook. But I agree there are many expensive restaurants that don’t deliver the quality you would expect.

    • thelifeshemade

      I agree, I don’t mind paying for the experience of fine dining every now and then. It’s the average restaurants charging high end prices that gets me. I hate being at a restaurant feeling like I could have done better at home.

      • Fernanda Rodrigues

        Hi, Kristy. That’s exactly how I feel when we dine out and I figure that I could have done it myself. It’s even worse if I straight away think of where to find those ingredients and the cost, which is always lower… So, we have been eating in most of the time! :-)

  • Deanna Buckley

    We have just done our own My Kitchen Rules competition between friends… there were 6 couples included and therefore that was 6 nights ‘out’ where we ate ‘in’ at our friends places.. three course meals, service etc… made us all step out of our comfort zone and attempt cooking a standard we wouldn’t usually and we loved it all… thats 6 possible nights we would have eaten out and to be honest… it was so enjoyable being in the comfort of friends houses and not worrying about having to take the kids… we are all going out to dinner next weekend to reveal the scores but from now on I think we are more willing and confident to cook for each other at home… more cost effective, comfortable but still a great eating experience :)

    • thelifeshemade

      That sounds like so much fun. What a great idea!

  • melinda

    Yum can you do a blog on your indian feast please?

    • thelifeshemade

      You know the Indian feast happened so quickly. At the time I thought, should I be blogging this, but I was under a time pressure to get everything happening really quickly that I didn’t have time to take photos along the way.

      I got all my recipes from a cook book called “Indian Food Made Easy” by Anjum Anand.

      Naan Bread
      A bunch of Anjum’s recipes

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Its a strange time for the restaurant industry isn’t it? Some of my favourite places have closed down. I know a lot of chefs said that MC meant that there were less patrons :(

    • thelifeshemade

      I think what it means is that the old model of running a restaurant doesn’t work any more. Patrons are increasingly food savvy. They have high expectations of the food and don’t necessarily need or desire the pomp and ceremony that comes (at a cost) with fine dining. People are realising that fantastic food can be created in the home.

  • john@heneedsfood

    We are definitely still eating out so nothing has changed in this household. There’s a time and a place for fine dining but eating out at out local restaurants is the norm. Great food does happen in the home, as it does in mine, but I’d never say no to spending time with loved ones in a local up the road.

  • Tina@foodboozeshoes

    Great job on the Indian feast. I hate those mid-tier meals you’re talking about – nothing worse than an overpriced average meal.

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