Huck's Rant: A host of issues

Following visits to the biggest and brightest of Sydney's new restaurants, Anthony Huckstep takes point with many of operators' definition of good service.

We’ve had far too many restaurants open over the last year. They’ve been multiplying faster than mogwais and the gremlins are on show everywhere.

The overabundance is putting pressure on existing operators, other new sites and the labour market en masse. The fact is there just aren’t enough bums for all the seats, nor staff to bring them their eats.

The sad thing is that when it comes to restaurants and food, the theory of survival of the fittest doesn’t quite work. Often our fickle food obsession puts fad, fast and convenience first leaving the best establishments, those adding spark and direction to the culinary landscape, to fold in a fiery inferno of neglect.

I’m a bit perplexed about some of the new restaurant openings in Sydney this year.

Sure I’ve experienced some venues I can’t wait to go back to, but there’s been a bagful of beige with behaviours that are a bit hard to swallow.

It’s odd that restaurants are still considered a great investment by non-industry cash cows injecting mass amounts of money – even though the average profitability remains around 3.9 per cent.

The desire to manufacture restaurant precincts by corporate cowboys is producing a multitude of mediocre restaurants that are in the business of feeding people and spreading the talent thin, rather than creating a dining environment.

Though there are some flagship restaurants doing these precincts proud.

Anyway, amongst a swirling sea of substandard service, forgetting to deliver menus to a sommelier saying, “There are many wines I haven’t had a chance to try yet but I like sav blanc”, or just forgetting to put our order in, I’ve experienced some odd instances that feel out of step with the evolution of not just our dining scene, but that of our society as well.

For two weeks in a row, we were greeted at two different restaurants in a similar manner. A handful of hostesses in high heels, skin-tight dresses and more face paint than an NRL Grand Final. It felt like we’d stepped into a gentleman’s club, rather than a restaurant. And yet in the dining room of both the food and staff couldn’t have been further from the initial greeting.

My gripe is not with them, because they’re doing their job – more the perception of the owners of what a restaurant welcome is in 2017.

It was their job to say hello, welcome us to the lift, walk us to a bar full of white collared men bending the arm, or of course to our table.

In fact on one occasion two hostesses even walked me all the way to the toilet – one held the toilet door open for me.

I’m a grown man (well, ok that’s debatable) I don’t need someone to hold my hand to cross the road, or have an adult accompany me to the toilet. Even if I require a GPS to find the damn thing, just tell me where they are. I can manage the rest on my own.

I appreciate a nice welcome and understand we all have different expectations from a restaurant but these felt a bit like Trumpland.

It is 2017 isn’t right? I guess they still have cheerleaders before NRL kick off, right?