“Shoot your lunch, enjoy your dinner.”
That’s the advice I’ve been given on how to take better food photographs. Food looks better in natural light. Using a flash, of course, is the big ‘no no’ of food photography. So, being members of the fulltime workforce, we often ‘dine to blog’ on a weekend lunch. There are other blogging constraints as well: it’s difficult to take food photos in a crowded restaurant, no ability to set up a meal on a free table without making an ass of yourself, or to concentrate enough to make meaningful comment later on.
But dining out is not always about sharing the occasion with you, dear reader. Sometimes it’s a night out with family or close friends when we’re not analysing or documenting the experience, when we just want the meals we ordered to magically appear together and service to flow smoothly… (…as if we don’t want that all the time)! With that in mind, let us recount a recent culinary adventure…
We’d made a booking at Bangkok Thai on Chevron for 7.15 on a Friday night (an in between, non-committal time, due to parties arriving separately). Lulled into complacency, we were shocked by a 7pm phone call from the out-of-towners: “We’re not allowed in!” [Never be early for your wedding or funeral, I’m told, let alone dinner…] Impatiently, we wandered around Chevron to consider options.
Truthfully, we almost piked. There was movement from our visitors to flick the booking and join the congo line of Polynesian dancers at Nesia. It looked awfully busy over there and we’re stubborn fans of Bangkok Thai’s food, so eventually we coordinated time zones, behaved like adults and were seated at our booked table. Close call! (Nesia, we’ll be back another time!)
BT’s a long narrow restaurant, populated with timber tables on either side, but notoriously packed with diners on weekend nights. That night it was busy as… but service was brisk and, despite some communication problems with our waitress, we were soon set up with sparkling water and wine glasses for our BYO ($2pp), our food arriving soon after.
It was an excellent meal and some of our favourite Thai food – vibrant fresh colours, crunchy vegetables, deeply flavoured curries (fairly sweet and not at all hot), tender meat in generous servings, interesting yet highly accessible food for Western palates.
Sadly, looking back, it was not the food that we remembered about the evening. It had been too tense, too busy to be relaxed. Inside the restaurant we felt a bit like noisy birds stuffed in a cage, chatter bouncing off the tiled floors, people straining to hear each other, some diners bustling to get to tables which were already booked, while others lined up patiently at the door waiting for their table to be vacated. The waitresses were stressed, doing their best to serve the bouncing clientele. We looked with envy at the alfresco tables which fronted the street, quieter than where we sat hunkered down in the middle of the service action. But we made the best of it, dined quickly and left.
It’s disappointing that we hadn’t shown off Bangkok Thai at its best. Chef Boonmee Chantra’s food (from a family of chefs) is some of our favourite Thai cuisine on the Gold Coast, the Red Curry duck, stir fries and fish dishes aromatic with fresh herbs and packed with juicy meat .
Our experience reminds me that there’s so much more to think about when dining other than just ‘getting a table’. It was a poor decision on my part to book a busy restaurant on a Friday night in the silly season, especially when we wanted to relax and ‘chew the fat’. It would have been preferable to enjoy a midweek dinner or even an unhurried lunch (fixed price $9.90 – $13.90).
For me, a meal is most enjoyable when it’s stress-free, when service flows seamlessly, when there’s time to savour flavours and presentation, and to enjoy the company of friends in a relaxed environment. I may be ‘working’ at lunch, but I really want to chill out over dinner!
62 Thomas Drive, Chevron Island, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5539 9348