Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wildfire (and a rant about Oscillate Wildly)

Restauranteurs put a lot of effort into tempting punters into their dining rooms. So I still can't work out why they're so rude when people call to book a table. These days I can't really be bothered to do the whole reservation thing. I'm over the whole faxing El Bulli in Catalan to secure a reservation six months before you want to eat. I understand that having your restaurant booked up three months in advance is good for the restauranteur, but it's just not for the customer. I can see how a three month wait might be feasible if you're making me a sofa but three months notice to cook me dinner?

I called Oscillate Wildly, one of Sydney's hottest restaurants, when I first arrived. I knew the buzz was insane so I was happy to go when they had a table. I'm neither rich enough nor beautiful enough to expect to eat at 8.00pm on a Friday or Saturday night. So my pitch was "I'd like to eat in your restaurant, I know you're booked up, I would like a table for two any night of the week in May, I can come as early as you like. I'm at your mercy."

The person who answered the call laughed and told me they were fully booked until June and hung up.

This was in March.

No wait-list. No attempt to find me a space. No offer to take my number and call me when one of the people who booked six weeks in advance can't make it. I'll try a walk in early one day and I'll probably get a table. Because here's the rub. Restaurant reservationists seem to revel in pissing off the people who call, but when they see the whites of your eyes, they'll generally accommodate you. Funny that.

My mate Dave was over from London and I needed to find somewhere for us to have dinner. I was busy, so I left it until 3.00pm on the day we wanted to eat before I started my search (the best time I find as the restaurants have generally confirmed their reservations by lunchtime and they have a better idea of who's tipping up.) Wildfire is just up from Circular Quay, right opposite the Opera House and so as far as I'm concerned, not a bad spot to eat supper in. They make a big deal about their woodfired Churrasco, and Dave and I were up for a bit of a meat orgy.

First up, the little tapas they bring to get your started are very delicious. The warm flatbread with a tomato and Kryten goat curd dip is especially good. The mini venison sausage rolls were also suitably flaky, although not a patch on the sausage rolls from Mr Christie's in London. But here's the rub; linger over the tapas and a bottle of wine from their extensive list and suddenly you're not hungry anymore.

So we sort of wimped out on the meat orgy. Churrasco is meat on a stick, Brazillian style. The waiters will bring over a spike and slice off what you want, you're even given a handy pincer to help them with their meat. Being Sydney they also do a fair seafood selection, although Dave and I were agreed that this wasn't quite as good as the meat. The highlight for me was the Angus sirloin which had been aged for 30 days, although the lamb wasn't bad too. I'd go back but more likely to their bar, ember, where you can get the flatbread and an amazing selection of wine by the glass.

Here's the backstory though. When I called we were told that they'd have to have the table back by 8.30. The reservationist gave a lot of attitude and I nearly didn't take the table because there's only one thing I hate more than having to wait three months for a table, and that's being told how long my meal is going to take me to eat. What happened on the night? The restaurant was half full and we sat on the harbour until 10.00pm. I really don't understand why restaurants make such a hash of making a good first impression.

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Blogger Phillip Cal├žado "Shoes" said...

I can't express enough of how much that being aware that there is brazilian-style churrasco in Sydney makes me happy :)

1:04 PM  
Blogger grocer said...

IMO oscillate wildly has to be the in the top 10 of overrated sydney eateries. After hearing raves about how good it is, I was completely underwhelmed eating there.

1:36 PM  

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