Not every eating out outing is perfect, of course.
But thankfully, those that are so noteworthy they generate a reluctant review of mostly negativity are extremely rare.
In between, the vast majority of our adventures – and, we suspect, those of my most of our friends and visitors – mix and match some combination of the good and the great and the sensational with minor irritants of all kinds.
Such is the small price we pay for our natural inclination towards cheap eats, ethnic tucker and Melbourne’s western suburbs.
We roll with such punches, sometimes with a philosophical shrug, sometimes with a hearty half-full outlook that what some folks may conclude is naff or nasty can, too, be seen as heralding excellence on its way.
Actually, there’s no way we’re OK about creepy crawlies of any kind in or near our food … at all.
Thankfully, though, there hasn’t been a single such incident since Consider The Sauce hit the road and none before that. Well, none we can recall.
But we don’t want to ever see cockroaches in our soup. Nor do we want to observe them scampering across the floor or up our table legs.
And we’re almost as equally unhappy about seeing belly-up dead flies gathered in ghastly communion on a nearby window sill, as we did at a certain westie noshery not so long ago.
If we ever make landfall in one the Asian nations where insects and other creepy crawlies are deliberately and enjoyably consumed, we’ll re-assess.
Given that my understanding is that in such cultures insects are almost always deep-fried and end up being crunchy … well, I can think of plenty of things I’d contemplate with even less relish. Woof!
THE TIME FACTOR
Often, the staffing situations at our kind of eateries seem to be as haphazard as adherence to the advertised opening hours.
And, depending on what we order, wait times can vary wildly – even for the same food on successive visits.
We’re mostly prepared to patient.
And when we’re not – if we’re headed for a movie, say, or for some other commitment, or if it’s already late on a week night and we’re keen to eat and get home – we’re these days well practised at telling the staff that that is the situation.
Equally, we’re comfortable with inquiring which dishes can be delivered to our table the most speedily, and ordering accordingly.
THE BILL BEING GREATER THAN THE COMBINED PRICES AS LISTED ON THE MENU
Sadly, this has happened a couple of times recently.
In one case, it wasn’t until after we were way down the road that I realised.
In another, I was simply too happy basking in the glow of a fine meal – or perhaps too cowardly – to raise the issue.
In both cases, the surreptitious increase was about $1 a dish.
From what I’ve read, the standard line from restaurants who perpetrate this sneaky practice is: “The prices have gone up – these are the new prices.”
Not good enough, of course; not nearly good enough.
This leaves you, me and all the other customers with the invidious choice of spoiling a lovely meal by making an issue of it or leaving with a metaphorical sour tastes in our mouths.
But I suspect it’s a practice that will continue.
I plan on training myself to ask whether the menu prices are those that will appear on our bill.
Can be good, can be bad, can see us fleeing for the exit.
We’re flexible and can even appreciate a wide range of sounds, depending on the context.
But there are limits – in both taste and volume.
We have been known to seek an adjustment in the latter.
The former is usually beyond hope and a sign that’s it’s time to look elsewhere.
GETTING WHAT WE HAVEN’T ORDERED
Somewhat surprisingly, while this may seem like a disaster, it’s one we’re known to accept rather amiably.
There have been more than a few times when we’ve undoubtedly ended up with a better meal than we otherwise may’ve experienced through our order being misunderstood or otherwise screwed up.
It’s one of the great mysteries – why restaurant staff so overload those vertical stainless-steel serviette holders that it is impossible to get one out in a single piece. We end up with a table full of shredded paper and a distraction from an otherwise nice meal.
This one is a specialty of our beloved Vietnamese restaurants, many of which uses boxes of tissues instead of regular serviettes.
We have no issue with this practice at all – apart from the fact the tissues are very thin, so you can go through just about a whole boxful in the course of a really hands-on meal.
The problems arise when contents of the tissue box drops to lowly levels and the next one no longer sticks up through the plastic slit.
This means interrupting the good times of chowing down, waggling fingers through the hole and – finally, and in desperation – turning the box upside down and banging and cursing until a tissue appears.
UNFIZZY SOFT DRINKS
We try really, really hard to stick with water for budget reasons.
But when we to succumb to our lust for the sweet stuff, we like it to be a can – especially when they’re priced at $2 or, even better and still sometimes stumbled upon, $1.50.
The pits is being charge $2.50 and even more for a tumbler of that Coca Cola stuff that has obviously come from a bottle that’s been sitting in the fridge since half past last century, has zero bubbles and jostles with too much ice.
We don’t do fine dining, so the heating and airconditioning situations we confront are erratic to say the least – or climate control is just plain absent.
We happily know and accept this.
It does become somewhat tiresome, though, when management has gone to the time, trouble and expense of installing heating and/or cooling, that its benefits are continually disrupted by other customers leaving the door open to hellish blasts of heat or bone-chilling storms.