It is always difficult to distinguish between your satisfaction from an experience and that of others you are sharing your experience with. When there is such divide in the personal opinion of each diner, it dampens the memory. The Trustee Bar & Bistro, part of the new(ish) dining precinct in Perth, literarily dished up this conundrum.
I had been to the bistro previously almost exactly a year prior. The modern European food was good and I thought the prices were really reasonable at the time, for Perth. So, at late notice, and without a booking, I was glad that four of us could grab a table at 8.30pm right in the middle of service.
This time around I must admit that the menu didn’t grab me. I’m almost positive prices had gone up too. There are some really great sounding options including a bone marrow dish and a marron dish. It could have been the fact we were really there to have one course and the menu is more suited to trying a couple of dishes. I balance that with the fact that it is a “bistro” and if I feel comfortable going to a bistro in Paris for a one dish that will satisfy me, I should feel the same ability in Perth. After all, bistro basically means inexpensive casual dining. I settled on the duck confit with my fingers crossed.
As it turns out, my duck confit with braised faro salad and chorizo aioli was good. The duck leg confit was nicely cooked and the faro salad was flavoursome. However, the aioli didn’t provide the necessary link between duck and salad and the overall dish was a little dry as a result. I thought the faro salad was a modern touch, but it didn’t have the impact that more traditional accompaniments have. At $39.50 I probably would not order the dish again.
Some of my work colleagues I was dining with did have menu envy though. They had ordered the chorizo peasant pasta which had an arrabiatta sauce on orecchiette pasta, which I thought sounded okay, especially at $22. The service initially had been quite professional but a bit cold. We had waited 40 minutes before we finally, through hunger, enquired whether our food was on its way and whether we could be served some bread (nothing had been placed on the table). We had to ask again five minutes later and by the time some bread had arrived we also had our meals. There was no apology or attempt to explain. I think the sour taste from the service had impacted the flavour of the pasta and although my work colleagues finished their dish they were left a bit flat.
The usual script of “how was your meal” was met initially with my “very nice” and then my work colleague noted “we waited 45 minutes and it was not great”. Our waitperson stalled and wasn’t sure how to react but came back from the kitchen offering a discount and an apology which we all accepted. We were not looking for a discount. It was a nice touch but letting us know there was a wait after 20-30 minutes and offering some bread would have been a better reaction.
At the end of the day, I had enjoyed my meal. There was a vast divide in my feeling to that of my fellow diners and I couldn’t help but be impacted. It all comes down to the way challenges are handled, and service that runs off a script, in this case, did not mitigate the situation. With many other restaurants in close proximity these types of experiences need to be kept to a minimum or diners are lost for good.