Wednesday, 4 April 2007

ripped off.

In between rehearsal and gig on Friday was the time for trying Sarah's, a new vegetarian restaurant on Leigh St in the city. I was kind of excited about this, because I'd heard great things about its sister restaurants at Semaphore (and Glenelg?), which have apparently been serving up amazing vegetarian cuisine for 20 years.

To begin with, the decor is kind of good and bad. It's really big and open, with polished cement floors, and black tables and chairs. I found it a bit stark, but I imagine you could find it airy and welcoming and relaxed. It's split level, and on the top half is a bar, and a space for performers. They have live music every evening, and whoever was playing when we were there was quite good, and it was loud enough to listen to, but not so loud it impinged upon conversation if you were in the bottom restaurant bit.

Sarah's doesn't have a menu as such - you kind of order the size of food you want, and you get what you're brought. So for example, mum had the antipasto platter and I had the plat du jour. The antipasto platter was the smallest/cheapest thing on the menu at $15, and there were bigger options - like a banquet platter ($25 each) and some others I can't remember. My plat was $25 with a glass of wine and coffee, or $18 without. I also ordered an apple juice. The waiters were quite helpful though, which was good because the menu was a bit confusing.

The food took a while to come, considering the restaurant was quite empty. Mum's antipasto was a couple of very small slices of bread, about 5 stuffed mushrooms, and a small serving of chickpeas. The plate of the day turned out to be a small serving of pasta-bake with a very small serving of salad. My juice never came. Mum's chickpeas were excellent, the mushrooms I liked but she didn't and my pasta bake was possibly the best pasta bake I've ever had although I don't really think that's saying so much. It had eggplant in it, and something that was kind of halfway between grapes and sultanas. Obviously a lot of effort had gone into the salad, with the carrots for example, being marinated in something. But still. $18 for an excellent but too small serve of PASTA BAKE is way too much.

Ok ok I know there are a lot of people out there who think that good value in a restaurant equals the biggest piece of meat you can get for the smallest amount of dollars, and therefore vegetarian food is almost always a ripoff because the inputs for a vegetarian dish are just not as expensive as that of a meat dish. I don't think that. I'd rather get the most enjoyement out of my meal for my money, and since vegetables are easier to prepare well (or at least harder to totally stuff up) than meat, I tend to feel like for an average dinner price you're going to get more value out of vegetables, because they HAVE to make it taste better for you to think it's good value. Also, a plate full of vegetables is likely to be healthier than a plate full of meat, and you're less likely to walk away feeling gross.

Anyway. Sarah's is not good value. Ok, they're obviously going to a lot of trouble with their food, and paying attention to detail, and yes it tastes good (although I think Sprouts is comparable) but $18 is too much to pay for a small serving of PASTA BAKE (I know I already capitalised that but REALLY) and average service. It's not like it's presented all fancy-like either. The only things that really indicate the prices are the white tableclothes and heavy silverware.

All this is rather a shame, because I was looking forward to another cool veggie place in the cbd. Still, maybe lunch is better. I noticed their lunch menu, and they serve a salad for $10 and listed baguettes for $6.50 and $7.50, so if they're really good, and of a more substantial size, then maybe that is the answer. I might try that, but there's no way I'm going back for dinner.

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