Recently, my partner and I were in Mollymook on the South Coast of New South Wales and decided to have a meal at Rick Stein at Bannister's. Rick Stein is an English chef who has had some success with television series. He appears to specialise in seafood.
We arrived at the restaurant on time and we were shown to our table. My seat was faced away from the view and my partner's seat was on a banquette running along the back of the room. The table was set out as one would expect of a restaurant claiming to offer top of the range service and food.
The service was attentive. We had menus and water -- just tap water; we refrained from the Rick Stein carbonated water -- within moments, along with a small bowl of olives. I ordered a sauvignon blanc ($42).
The first intimation that all was not well was when the wine waiter brought a bottle of riesling. It was not even from the same vineyard as the sauvignon blanc I had ordered. It was quickly replaced however.
We'd both ordered oysters as entrees -- my partner half a dozen natural, while I ordered a speciality that cost extra but came with chili sausages. A big fuss was made of placing pillowed plates before the both of us, this being necessary, we were told, as the oysters were served on a platter of ice.
Indeed, that is the way my partner's entree was served. Mine was not, requiring the removal of the pillowed plate. Also, I questioned the fact that I had only five oysters. I was told my dish comes with only five, despite having a higher price than half a dozen.
Anyway, the oysters were fine, as they should have been for the price ($24 and $27).
I'd ordered the fish pie and my partner barramundi (both around $40). The fish pie was disappointing. It consisted of two prawns, two scallops and bits of fish placed in a soup bowl, covered with a sauce (pleasant enough but lacking wow factor) and bread crumbs, then grilled. My partner found the barra ordinary, even the mash mixed with broad beans and peas. The dishes were edible, but expensive, we felt. We also had a green leaf salad, which was unremarkable
This happens at restaurants from time to time. Dishes don't live up to their potential.
We decided to end with a cheese platter, a port (for me), a Baileys (for my partner) and coffee.
Here is where the restaurant went from disappointing to annoying. The coffee and drinks, along with petits fours, came out and were placed on the table within moments of being ordered. We protested we had cheese to come. The waiter, to his credit, made inquiries, but the cheese failed to emerge for another seventeen minutes, just as we were about to cancel it. We were served the cheese with apologies and the advice that, if we wanted it before our coffee, we should have specified that.
Hmmm. I have never been served coffee before cheese anywhere else in the world.
Our conclusions? Very ordinary service and food.