The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Restaurant rant

I just recalled an incident at a Perth restaurant where I walked away not happy. This is not a rant about the restaurant's food because we decided not to eat there in the end (in fact, this place has received many good reviews and I've heard many people were happy with the food). It's more of a rant about how some of these upper end restaurants run their business (or at least how this particular restaurant run their business). This particular place have oyster specials on Tuesdays, so on the day before I left Perth to return to Japan, I decided to take my mum out to have some oysters and sashimi since she'd mentioned that she was craving for some. I thought that it'd be nice to go to a nice place and try out the supposedly nice oysters during the nice special they have on Tuesdays. So we drive there late afternoon around 3:30pm, walked into the almost empty restaurant, and I told the waiter upon entry that we were there for the oysters. He sat us down at the bar, and asked if we wanted to have drinks. We said we didn't want any drinks, just the oysters, thanks. And here's where the problems started.

He told us that we have to order drinks with our food (?!). He further informed us that they are a "proper restaurant business", not a cafe where we could just walk in for some food without drinks. In fact, he even said that serving drinks was where the restaurant makes most of their money (?!). This must be some new restaurant etiquette that materialised out of thin air because this was new to me. Nevertheless, I wanted us to have a nice time, so I asked for water, knowing full well that I would have to pay for the water (I am a big water-drinker and not big on other beverages). My mum gave me a look and insisted that she didn't want any drinks. The guy then politely told us that he won't serve us food without drinks, and said he'd leave us the menu and will come back later. So we discussed about the situation at hand. I know that if we had to pay for drinks just to have the oysters, it would leave a sour taste in my mum's mouth and she wouldn't enjoy the oysters anyway, regardless of how yummy they may be. So I had a predicament: if we stayed, my mum wouldn't enjoy the food; on the other hand, it would require some guts to leave since we were already seated. Since my mum insisted that she'd rather not have the oysters if she had to order drinks, we decided to leave. So when the guy came back, I told him that my mum wasn't happy having to order drinks, and that we'd go somewhere else.

I've encountered restaurants that refuse to serve (alcoholic) drinks without food, but not one that refused to serve food without drinks. I'd understand it better if they refused to serve us food sans drinks when the restaurant is full and it's better business to fill our two seats with two customers who are willing to pay lots of money for drinks. But the restaurant was empty on this occasion, and I really did not appreciate being told that I had to order drinks in order to eat the food. I go to a restaurant for the food experience, not the drinks. In fact, I'd go to a cafe for a drink, not for food, so it's apparent to me that this guy has got a couple of things the wrong way round. This is the first time I've encountered a restaurant like this, and I hope that it is the last.


  1. really? which restaurant is this...Its not Oyster Bar isit?...I wanna go there and do the exact same thing...if he says the same thing...I'd make a scene...jump up and down...and demand to speak to the manager

  2. Yep, Mead's in South Perth. Make sure you have at least someone else with you if you do go.. That way he can't easily intimidate you.. (I think he was the manager)

  3. hahaha...I'll bring Kris...I don't think that anyone would want to intimidate me with him around :)

  4. oh wow that was pretty weird! im glad you stuck to your guns and didn't get bullied into buying drinks!