Friday 23 May 2008

Garcon! More Bearnaise!

It's been a long, long time since I have been to a swish restaurant that offers no options for vegetarians. Most places these days make some effort to cater to those that do not partake of flesh, but this place took no prisoners. The menu was meat, meat and more meat. The wine list offered swimming pools of very fine red wines. A small bowl of chips on the side was about as far as the kitchen stretched when it came to vegetables.

And what a fine lunch it was, stretching over 4 hours and three courses. It was so overwhelming, I have not eaten any dinner. I have just sat around the house like Jabba the Hutt trying to digest half a cow.

As good as the steak was, the occasion was far from perfect. The waiters were as clumsy as trainee jugglers. It took them half an hour to take our orders. Wine glasses went empty for long periods. Laps were doused with ice cold water from knocked over bottles. In short, if the food hadn't been as good as it was, I would have recommended setting the place on fire.

My main consisted of an enormous lump of rib on the bone, cooked rare. And it was rare, which is why my stomach is having such a tough time tonight. I used to inflict rare meat on it at least once a week, but now it seems to only have it once a year. My stomach is out of shape in this regard. But enough of that.

That one steak cost nearly $50, so as you can appreciate, it had to be good.

Was it worth $50?

No. Especially not with the Fawlty Towers style service that we experienced. But I was not paying, so to me, it was a free steak. Gotta love that.

The one thing that really gripes me was the Bearnaise. Or the lack of it. Bearnaise was an option - a $6 option on the side. Now I reckon that if you are forking out $50 for a steak, then everything on the side should be free. Vegetables, sauces, naked women - all that sort of thing. One should not have to pay extra for a sauce when the cost of one steak approaches what our family spends on meat in a week.

But $6 is what they charged. When the sauce arrived, I was expecting to be presented with a soup tureen of sauce. If not a tureen, then at least a jug. Well, call me disappointed then, since it turned up in something that was a cross between a thimble and an egg cup. Perhaps an egg cup designed to hold pigeon's eggs. It was not a lot of sauce. I would have complained about it and demanded more, but my attention was distracted by another clumsy waiter flicking ice cubes down one side of my body. By the time I got over the shock and returned to my food, the waiters had buggered off and I was left with a small puddle of Bearnaise.

And I was hungry too, so I just devoured the steak (with a dab of Bearnaise) and thought no more of it.

Until I got home. Boy, would I have felt ripped off if I had been paying for that. From now on, I'm avoiding the high-class steak houses in tourist traps and eating at pubs where the restaurant has an excellent reputation.

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