Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?
Hmm, what experience stands out for this one? As you can tell, our lives are not full of eating out or five star restaurants anymore. If this question was asked of me many years ago I would have had difficulty choosing which one experience to name. We lived in an upmarket part of Sydney, both professional career people, worked hard, played hard, ate well. We would eat out four nights from seven. Mainly local restaurants which others would travel miles to experience. Names such as Bilsons, Pruniers, Bistro Moncur, Bills and Claudes were our regular haunts. Before children. Before having a child with ASD. Before our lives changed.
Which now brings us back to 2009. In a way, all my culinary experiences prior to the one which comes to mind pale in significance. For our greatest achievement this year has been eating out at a decent restaurant with both our sons. I can hear you thinking, what is so special about that?
When even eating at the local McDonalds without an incident or meltdown is a rare event, believe me, having a successful evening at a restaurant is worthy of a grand commendation. It was only a local bistro style place, a step above the fast food/cafe outlets, and a different atmosphere to a pub. Our forays into other eateries had not been a grand sucess. Enjoyment minimised or destroyed due to emotional outbursts or even hysteria. Smallest things triggering tears. Food going cold as one of us calmed our son then tag-teamed for the other to have their meal. And yet still we persevered.
Early this year we decided to give it another try. A little seafood restaurant at Sanctuary Cove overlooking the water. The meals, simple, well-cooked. Local fresh seafood, lightly seasoned, served with fries, tangy tartare sauce and fresh garden salad. Gloriously succulent prawns, hot from the kitchen needing no extra garnish. Crisp cold drinks to rinse our paletes.
But the best bit, the piece de resistance? Nearly twelve year old Boy 1, sitting calmly, eating carefully, gazing around absorbing the experience, then turning to us with wonder and saying:
"We have to mind our manners, this is a REAL restaurant. I might have to bring a girl here someday."
We certainly hope so sweetie, we certainly hope so.
Grilled Dory with a touch of lemon and seasoning will always make me smile now.