Posted 10 September 2012 - 03:12 AM
Heh. To be honest, I mostly accept restaurants as they present themselves. I don't enjoy staff taking things too seriously but mostly, in Australia at least, I don't really encounter that. Even at nice restaurants, Australians seem to mostly be laid back. Polite. And ideally the staff know a thing or two about the food or the wine. But no one is stiff and overly formal. I mean, maybe, as skilled waitstaff, they take cues from the customers: me, I attempt to behave myself (I don't want Keith_W or annachan posting about me in the 'badly behaved dinner companions' thread), but at the same time I go to dinner, as do most--maybe all people--I dine with to enjoy the food and the company of others. I tend to find the detailed descriptions of wine interesting, altho' I probably get more out of the experience--and am more inclined to turn it into a conversation--when the topic is beer or whisk(e)y. I'm not good with social cues and some of the more subtle aspects of communication or anything like that, but I rarely, if ever, feel like a sommelier is giving me a hard time or treating me poorly because I don't know a whole lot about wine. If I'm at a loss, I'm more inclined to ask the sommelier for his or her recommendation. I buy by the glass, so there's not that awkward moment of having to negotiate a price range.
As a 'foodie'--and, really, I fucking hate that word, even if it's a word other people apply to me--I've enjoyed food at cheap and cheerful places, loud and trendy places, degustation-only fine dining options and many restaurants that fall elsewhere on the spectrum of restaurant ... styles. In the past, six, nine months, my favourite meals have been in a little Portuguese place in the inner 'burbs of Harare, out in the courtyard with a can of 2M beer and a fence that's 'decorated' with broken wine bottles (the security system), and some of Melbourne's costlier options. I guess, so much as the atmosphere doesn't make an active effort to annoy me--by being really loud and crowded, say, or with really intrusive service--then I'm mostly interested in the food. It might be a good cheeseburger or a good ten course menu or a good steak--the only medium-rare steak that maybe, at that time, was being served in the country--with a deliciously thick mushroom sauce, but the point is the food has to be good. I don't care if it's popular or cheap or expensive, if being there marks me as a sheep or a trendsetter or a dining rebel, but the food needs to be good. That's what matters most.
So, no, the degustation isn't dead for me. The trendy 'no bookings' place, neither, altho' in the case of the latter I'm inclined to swing by one lunch time when I'm on holidays, sidestepping the need to line up or leave my phone number with some guy at the door or any of that nonsense (if I want to go to a restaurant and eat, I don't care if I have to book--even if it's a couple months in advance--but I really do want to just go in and eat, not have to loiter around the city for a couple hours).