Saturday, February 2, 2008
Anne's birthday was actually over a week ago but she had a family do on the day so we postponed our celebration until last night. I took her to Siggy's, an upmarket restaurant in a beautiful old Victorian building that now forms part of the Stamford Plaza hotel in central Brisbane. It has the most marvellous winding staircase in solid polished timber. And the decor of the restaurant generally is very much in keeping with a high Victorian theme. For my taste it is probably the most beautiful restaurant I have seen.
The cuisine is French and international there, which I normally do not enjoy much. I like ethnic food. But they did have chateaubriand on the menu -- which I DO like. I guess it is ethnic French. You rarely see it on menus anywhere these days so I had to have it. At $120.00 for the dish it was not economy dining, however. But that feeds two, of course.
A small problem is that it takes 40 minutes to cook and I am a fair candidate for the world's most impatient person so we went for a walk after we had ordered -- by arrangement with the Maitre d' of course. The staff were in fact most obliging at accomodating my various requests, which is what one SHOULD get in an upmarket restaurant but which is nonetheless not always the case. They had a LOT of staff there too, which was probably one reason why we got such prompt and obliging service. Before I set out I had in fact gritted my teeth in expectation of the usual tardy service that one gets from French and international restaurants but there was nothing but the best service at Siggy's.
Below is a cartoonist's view of the snobby service one often gets in French restaurants:
Anyway, while our meal was cooking, we went for a walk in the nearby Queen's park -- a Victorian establishment again -- better known as the Old Botanic Gardens. It runs alongside the river so is very scenic and Anne in particular really enjoyed that part of our outing.
And the meal when we finally got it was first class. The sauce Bearnaise was a little more vinegary than I am used to but it was fine. Neither of us actually finished the meal as the fillet was a very large one. So we had no room for desserts, which was a bit sad.
While we were eating, another couple walked in who amused me slightly. The gent was wearing a suit, which is a bit unusual on a Friday night and almost certainly means that he is a salesman. And a salesman in that restaurant would almost certainly be using his expense account. The lady with him was very well-groomed, tallish, very slim and with a very large and well-displayed bosom. So you can see the transaction there: Boob job gets you taken to fine restaurants. I hope he got what he wanted afterwards. He almost certainly did as Siggy's is very impressive -- as was the bosom.
After we got home, we opened a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and drank the lot. A very pleasant night.
And this morning we had croissants for breakfast -- with Syrian apricot jam ["jam" = "jelly" in American parlance]. The Syrians put the kernels out of the seed in the jam, which gives it a stronger taste. I think the Austrians do that too.
But I like my own ethnic food too -- and there is nothing more ethnically Australian than Vegemite -- so I followed the croissants with a couple of pieces of toast with VEGEMITE on them. The English understand Vegemite because their Marmite is a close relative of it -- but it remains a profound mystery to most Americans. Even when they try it, they hate it. But here mothers put it on babies' tongues -- so it is profoundly entrenched here. And I love all of my Australian heritage.