Restaurant pricing: Australia

28 04 2006

I've said my piece about pricing in the US, but there's an area of pricing in Australian restaurants that both annoys me and pleases me.

When you eat in most Australian restaurants or cafes the price you pay for your meal is what's on the menu – as is what you get. If you want anything extra than what's described (e.g. a salad, vegies, bread, soup, etc.) you usually pay extra for those items. This is great if you just want that meal – if you don't want salad with your meal, then you don't pay for it. So it very much works on the 'user pays' principle, unlike the US where MANY meals come with soup or salad and other bits and pieces as standard. For those of us brought up on the "clean your plate – think of the starving [Indians/Biafrans/whatever]" the whole shebang provided in US restaurants is a trap as you tend to eat WAY more than you intended.

But the down side to the 'user pays for any extras' principle in Australia is that you can end up paying way more for your meal for items that cost the restaurant very little to produce, such as a plain garden salad. We got caught last night – Dave asked for bread and butter. Surprisingly for this restaurant, he got 2 slices of white bread such as you'd use for breakfast toast! We all expected some crusty bread, such as that I had for the Bruschetta. When we paid the bill, the restaurant had charged us $1.90 for the pathetic bread and butter – hell, you can buy the whole sliced loaf in the supermarket for that!

The other thing that got us was the credit card charge – which none of us had seen detailed on the blackboard menu outside, or the actual menu. It was 5% of the bill – and, in my opinion, is an absolute rip-off as the credit card providers only charge vendors between 1 and 3% (vendors are now allowed to pass on this charge). That means we were paying between 2 and 4% extra just because we chose to use a credit card. Well, hello! We chose to use a credit card because we DON'T walk around with that much cash on us all the time, and because we want an accurate reckoning and evidence of expenditure. That meant that we paid an extra $7 on this bill.

However, I do feel sorry for the very young girl who finalised our bill. She apologised most profusely for this charge – numerous times. As we left the restaurant my husband asked if we'd seen the manager walk past. We hadn't – he said that the manager looked daggers at the girl when she heard her apologise to us for the credit card charge. So no doubt the girl is in for it and will be told in no uncertain terms that she should never do that again. Poor kid.

FNQ: Day 4: Thursday 27 April 2006

28 04 2006

A rest day today. We got up late, lolled around for a while, Dave went shopping for tourist souvenirs and gifts (yes, Stevie, stuff for you too!), then we drove in to Cairns to take a walk around there and have some lunch.

Lunch was at the Rattle & Hum bar and grill down on the esplanade; Dave and I shared a wood-fired Peppered Chicken pizza and my husband had ANOTHER steak sandwich! Maybe he's going to write a book on "Steak Sandwiches of the World", starting with those in FNQ…

We played some pool for a while, then headed back to Palm Cove for a swim in a different sort of pool (swimming in the ocean across the road is out of the question – the water is brown and murky, the waves are fairly high, but most importantly, the deadly stingers are still around). The pool is slightly heated so swimming is very pleasant, and the hot tub was nice and warm. Well, what we were doing wasn't exactly swimming! That's way too athletic… mostly we lolled around floating on our backs watching the fruit bats in the palm trees above.

Those fruit bats are really cool. When they fly across the sky they just look like the Batman logo. I'd estimate their wing span at about 12 or 15 inches across, so they're not small. One was so protective of the fruit and flowers it was eating that it literally batted a bird out of the way. Too funny!

Fruit bat looking like Batman!

After an hour or so getting all prune-like in the pool and hot tub,we wandered down the street to the Apres Beach Cafe for dinner. Dave ordered Mango Daiquiris for me and him, while the hubby had a Kilkenny. Those Mango Daiquiris were VERY nice. I ate lighter tonight with some Bruschetta and a Chicken Caesar Salad; Dave had Creamy Garlic Prawns, and hubby had a Jungle Chicken and Coconut Curry. The meal wasn't cheap and the service was lacking a bit, but it was a good feed.

An early night as we have to leave for Cairns at 7:30am tomorrow if we do the Reef tour – the weather first thing tomorrow will dictate whether we go or not.