My friends and I ate at Sydney’s finest, poshest restaurants* for our birthdays.
We’re not fancy people. I’m more at home at a greasy pub than a fancy restaurant. I don’t own high heels and have never learnt to straighten my curls. I cook en masse, not for tablespoon portions. So, it was an interesting experience to make-believe for a night.
Here’s what I learnt from these four crazy expensive adventures.
Some formalities are just antiquitated:
Tetsuya and Quay was the only places in real life where I’ve been addressed “Good evening madam”. Turns out, I’m not Elizabeth Bennet. At both potential moments of graceful acknowledgement, I shot back a “hey” and plodded to the table.
Being present is the real trick:
I honestly think that waiters at fancy restaurants have to talk five minutes for each course, or they get fired. The cool thing about this is that it really forces you to focus on your food. I wonder if the lady at my local pho restaurant told me every ingredient and where it came from, I’d probably appreciate the flavours at a whole other level. It’s like your whole body focuses on your tastebuds, the textures in your mouth, the way the cutlery feels against the plate. It’s much better than eating dinner in front of the television. Imagine if we ate with this much mindfulness every day? There, I said it. I said the hippy thing.
You will need coffee if you overeat:
There’s a halfway point through a fancy ten course meal where I always panic “We’re half way through. I’m still hungry. I just wasted $200 to still be hungry. Fuuuuuccckkk” and then the next tiny little sliver of rich food tips me over to “There’s no more room. Why did I eat potato? Rooky move.” We all start rubbing our eyes open and aching in our bellies. And that’s where the coffee at the last course comes in. If they didn’t serve those tiny little cups of espresso dynamite my friends and I would have literally crawled out after the last petite four. It’s just like that monthy python sketch (which is more disgusting than what I remember).
Unless you take notes of your experiences, it all blends into one blur:
Quay was the only restaurant where I took photos of every course, and because of that, we’re able to have a much better recollection of each flavour. All of the other restaurants blended into vague feelings. Except for Rockpool because the boys went all gaga over a waitress that looked like the dragon lady from Game of Thrones.
It’s good to commit to crazy things and make a big deal:
I feel like Australians are so casual that we sometimes miss out on the delight of making a big formal deal out of things. It was kinda nice to change out of the 12-year-old jeans and into a dress. But only because I knew it was a special occasion.
My friends and I have conversations that are mainly inappropriate for fancy situations:
I’m not going to lie. We are perpetually stuck in 16-year-old sex jokes. I mean, we were making “seamen” jokes while we watched a cruise ship depart from Circular Quay. The moon was just coming out, the Sydney Opera House was glowing from the receding sunlight, and we were making dick jokes in one of the fanciest restaurants in Australia. Sometimes those jokes were a little louder than anticipated and we would all slink into our chairs, you know, like the adults we are.
Would I do it all again? Probably not. I’d much rather have a Lebanese meal down the road and put the extra money towards something more useful, you know, like feeding others. But it was a hell of a fun ride.
*The restaurants were Tetsuya, Aria, Rockpool and Quay – for the curious.