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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Horses For Courses

Horses for courses is an old saying and it refers to different horses being better suited for different racecourse conditions and so we apply this sentiment to many life situations and I think restaurant reviews would fit this category too, certainly the experience we had recently. 

Craig and I had to have our annual fasting blood test done, the bonus being that we have breakfast out for a treat, so we popped into a little local cafe. As we walked in we noticed a couple of tables already taken and most of the others were reserved. That's a good sign I thought, clearly they are doing something well.

We were seated and handed our menus.
Massive turnoff
The menus were basic A4 printed sheets in a plain plastic binder for protection, practical and inexpensive BUT they were so old that the plastic had turned opaque and the paper so creased, handled, worn that it resembled....I don't know what. Not even the post code directory in Sydney post office before emails looked that worn! The paper fibre had almost reverted to a fabric it was so softened and flappy, handled by millions of hands. I didn't want to touch it and it certainly isn't a good advertisement for a kitchen. 

Rather than get personal with the menu I ordered a safe house special Benedict and a flat white.
Craig is a coffee snob and his doppio ristretto leaves nowhere for a barista to hide.
The coffee was fantastic!

We are big fans of natural food, locally sourced and ethically grown. We eat almost entirely what we grow and none of our foods are processed. This doesn't make us rigid about going out but what I hadn't realised was how our palates have changed. I didn't think to say please don't butter my toast, it arrived and I tucked in only to grimace when I realise it is margarine. It tasted chemical. No problem, I'm not a big bread eater anyway. I am a fan of Hollandaise sauce and have to stop myself licking it off the plate. Not on this occasion I'm afraid. I had to scrape the sauce off, it too tasted of something chemical. I expected the eggs to be ordinary because we are so used to eating our own fresh ones from the backyard and I know you can't compare that. The bacon was as I expected, very salty and tasted like it had been cooked on a BBQ (I know some people would find this very tasty so I do not judge this as a criticism, merely an observance). I turned my attention to the massive mound of mushrooms, and I mean there were at least 20 mushrooms quartered and piled on my plate. Again, some would see this as an absolute plus but does mounds of food really equal value for money? Again there was some sort of dried herbage/seasoning/chemical sprinkled on the mushrooms and I had to leave them also. 

So here we have the horses and courses.
It's not the cafe's fault that I have a changed palette for natural food.
They did nothing wrong (except for the foul menus), they have an extensive menu with lavish portions, well cooked, friendly staff and clearly there are lot's of people enjoying the food. It would not be appropriate for me to give a "bad review" because I didn't enjoy breakfast. It's just not the way I see food anymore. I'm just pacing on a different track now. Cafe's cannot possibly cater to everyone so the trick is to find the ones that are going to be more suited to your style. It taught me, just because there are a lot of reservations, doesn't mean you shouldn't have any.

(Disclaimer; I have spent many years in hospitality and Craig has also owned a couple of cafes so we speak with some experience)


  1. I agree whole heartedly.... We have tried to eat in the same cafe but have been turned away twice...

    The first time their signs were out - it was 3 o'clock and they said the kitchen had closed. They turned 3 other couples away at the same time. I took note of the time they shut 3pm and I tried again a few weeks later with my offspring.

    This time it was 2 o'clock and we were told the kitchen was closed !! So I said this was the second time they turned us away - we won't be back... and they said it was normal in Launceston!

    We drove up to Elaia in Charles St and had 3 meals without issue.... so much for the norm!

    Have been back to Elaia many a time.... love it!

  2. After the mention of fantastic coffee I thought you were going to say don't judge a book (or menu!) by its cover. You should try eating out here. Same old same old. Mucho dollars for quite often poor quality, boring food. Even pub meals cost a bomb and nearly everything comes with chips. Last month when A was home we went to some rather fancy-schmancy (read expensive!) places with good reps/reviews, and I hate to say it, but we were both pretty disappointed on each occasion.
    And while I'm on my soap box (and I know you'll get this Tania) I am sick and tired of going to our local Coles to find any choice in product taken away from me. Honestly the range of say cheese, has got smaller and smaller. It's Coles or nothing now, and I'm sick of it. Unfortunately no real alternative we can afford. I'm really cross about this - everyone thinks I'm over-reacting. You?

    1. I'm with you Kylie on the Coles thing. Much as I dislike shopping in these huge supermarkets I find I have to for some purchases- flour, weetbix, canned foods, and loo paper etc.
      We've taken to shopping in the local greengrocers for all the rest- the fruit and veg are fresher, smaller range but much better quality, and they have a huge range of sauces, jams, pickles, yoghurt, cheese and meat from small local producers. these value-added products are more expensive but the fresh veg and eggs are mostly cheaper than the supermarkets.

  3. Hey Tanya, I'm a big fan of eggs Benedict, can't go past it when it's on the menu and yes, I would lick the Hollandaise off the plate if I could!!
    Shame it wasn't the experience you were hoping for. I love breakfast out and if it's a dud it's very disappointing. Glad the coffee was good at least that's a positive.

    Claire x

  4. I'm with you Tania, I've been excited about eating at certain cafes that others have raved about but have left feeling disappointed and ripped off.
    We have a lovely little café in town that has not disappointed. Always fresh food, friendly and happy-to-be-working-there staff, lovely sitting areas in the sunshine and decent coffee.


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