OFFCUTS: Mad about hats

WITH the announcement of the SMH Good Food Guide awards last week, comes a slew of repercussions for restaurants and diners. Some good, some not so good.

Of course, for those eateries (Subo, Mason, Muse, Muse Kitchen and Bistro Molines) who received the coveted hat, massive kudos to them. It takes dedication, innovation, passion and a bloody lot of hard work to get the scores that earn a hat.

The hours are long and your weekends aren’t your own. And I’ve never met a chef that didn’t have burns and scars on their arms.

But getting toqued, or even included in the guide, has many benefits: it boosts awareness of the restaurant, often removing the need for advertising and its associated costs; it’s a tick of approval that reaffirms diners they will be receiving a pretty special experience, and it adds a boost to the bottom line – an increase in bookings is the usual reaction to the announcement.

And full dining rooms equal bigger profits. Which is good for owners, good for employees and good for diners – a thriving city food scene is an indication of a strong economy and a vibrant lifestyle.

The pros far outweigh the cons, but there are still some. Personal expectations become high before you even step foot into a hatted restaurant.

I’ve eaten at Quay, expecting something akin to gold fairy dust splashing me in the face with every mouthful. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen.

It’s tough to keep up the standard too; once you’ve got that reputation, everyone’s a critic.

Despite the circus surrounding the awards, the basic message is that we have some top notch eateries here in the Hunter – stop eating junk and pay them a visit.

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