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Jan 03

41 Restaurant

I have an uncle visiting from America, who instead of looking through tourist guides for “sights to see”, looks for “places to eat”. Thus, we visited 41 last week, which sits atop Chifley Tower on, naturally, level 41. The view from there makes for a picturesque backdrop (images 350kb).

It is inevitable that in any fine dining joint there will be at least one word in each dish on the menu that we plebs will never have heard of in our lives. Because of this, I can’t recall exactly what we had, save for a crude description of each dish, but we each ordered the degustation menu – a tasting menu of 6 entree-sized courses designed to give you “a wider tasting experience”. The first dish was a galantine of quail stuffed with foie gras and beans on the side. The second dish slips my mind completely. The third was a parcel of duck sitting atop something I can’t remember. The fourth was pieces of lamb with, again something I don’t recall the name of (it looked like gnocchi, but made out of vegetables). The fifth was a cheese platter, including an Australian and Italian cheese, and a rather offensive French cheese that smelled and tasted like les chausettes (socks) that no one could successfully eat. Between the fifth and sixth, there was a palate cleansing apple jelly with cinnamon. The sixth was a light but impossibly rich souffle with espresso sorbet. Needless to say the food was excellent.

The meal was not cheap, and my uncle left a rather sizeable tip, which he claimed that in America was not so sizeable. And then he said that Australian service in restaurants like 41 left a bit to be desired. (Though this is coming from an uncle who previously rubbished Tetsuya’s.) We defended it all by saying that Australian culture was a bit more casual and relaxed than America, and even more so than Europe which has a background of aristocracy and all the ceremony and customs surrounding the service of royalty. We had a little chat with our waiter afterwards and interestingly discovered that they make about half their wage from tips, with our waiter earning about $350-500 per week in them. Tips all go into a pool and are distributed to the employees by shift and seniority. Our waiter was quick to point out that this raised some problems with incentivising employees, since tips were not directly attributed to good service. Oh yeah, one more thing – the toilets have a pretty good view too. (A big thanks to Uncle Marcus for the dinner :)