Wednesday, February 25, 2009
In Australia, Smart Regs Mean Great Eats
As dusk fell my dearest and I wandered out to a restaurant, the Jaipur Masala (188 Elizabeth St., Sydney), I had discovered during an exploratory walk. It turned into a memorable evening for two reasons. First, the food was outstanding. We had freshly baked naan, Tandoori Tikka with mint sauce as a starter and for mains a Butter Chicken with thick creamy sauce and a Vindaloo Lamb with spicy, hot curry sauce. The spices and sauces were exotic and super tasty, the servings generous. The restaurant was attractive with many Indian decorations but also, strangely, an electric guitar, scooter and motor bike!
The second reason was the incredibly cheap prices. Did I mention this was a bring-your-own place? We purchased a chilled bottle of Long Flat semillon sauvignon blanc from a nearby bottle shop. The grand total for the meal was $40 (about $34 Cdn) including wine and all taxes and tips!! Prices are kept low by having self service. We placed the order at the counter where we received two wine glasses (no corkage fee!) and a little mast with #17 on it. We helped ourselves to napkins and cutlery at a central station and sat at a large wooden table. We sipped our wine and soon a waitress delivered the food to our table, marked by the numbered mast. We gorged ourselves on one of the best Indian meals in many years, and watched as the place filled up. And, yes, most of the other groups pulled out their own bottles of wine from knapsacks or carry bags. By the time we left, the Jaipur Masala was full of happy diners drawn in by the aromas of exotic spices that wafted far down the street.
I thought about our meal for days after. It was such a unique Australian experience. In Canada this meal would have cost about triple; with the wine alone exceeding the cost of this meal. With such low prices, Aussies eat out frequently, and because they do, restaurants, especially Thai, Chinese and Indian eateries flourish. I am ashamed of Canada’s ludicrous liquor laws, red tape and political correctness.