In this new section of my blog, I’m devoting it to the time-honoured tradition of allowing oneself a good ol’ rant. It must be said, anything involving a new restaurant always puts a smile on my face, yet that smile can quickly turn into a furrowed frown when sheer common sense goes out the window.
I rant quite a lot (to myself mainly) as well as to a few unfortunate dining companions when I feel a ‘food injustice’ has been served. If something so profoundly basic has been overlooked it can potentially ruin the entire meal for me – sad but true. I invest so much into dining out (my bank balance can attest), so from my point of view, I want that same fair exchange in return.
For me, visiting a new restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. The cosy formalities of entering a new restaurant is still a thrill; from the initial greeting right through to ordering that delicious aperitif is something I truly savour. Another key aspect is the promise of a too-delicious-to-stop bread selection. As an unashamed carb-lover, I have actually visited a restaurant where I knew the entrees to be so-so but have craved their bread and butter to the point I was willing to pay for an entire meal just for that first bite of heaven. It’s quite something to order a second bread and butter basket before the starter has even been served. However, this delicious precursor to the main event is often soured by the anticipation of what I may find: butter that is too hard to spread. It is perhaps my number one restaurant gripe…top five, for certain.
It’s a restaurant irritant that follows me around the city, and seems to be a common find in dining rooms across the country. The just-out-of-the-fridge triangle shapes of leaden butter sends my pulse rate soaring, and no amount of furious spreading can do anything about it. You end up with bread that is near torn to shreds, with unsightly lumps of cold, unwieldy butter all over your once perfect slice of bread. In the end, you’re too hungry to care and start eating little lumps of cold butter, then you need to shovel extra dry bread into your mouth to achieve the right bread to butter ratio. I think I would almost prefer a plate of runny, separated butter than the thick slabs that are so often presented; at least then you can use your bread as a kind of mop. It doesn’t even help if the bread is fresh from the oven as much of the heat is lost travelling from the kitchen.
The restaurant that perfects the initial bread and butter combo are already winners in my eyes. This small, seemingly insignificant part of the meal, shows to me that the chef has thought through every last component of the overall dining experience.
So, here’s my little offering for the professional kitchens of the land: whip that butter into utter submission! Make it so soft and air-light you could spread it with your fingers if need be…although I hope it actually never comes to that.
I realise I’m sounding like the Goldilocks of the food world, but getting it ‘just right’ makes all the difference. I think I can start to help matters with a new opening gambit to every future restaurant outing in the hope it will start to catch on: ‘Is the butter whipped?’ Yes, I will sound utterly insufferable, but the squeaky wheel gets the oil…or butter, in this case.