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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Citrus @ Beaumaris

Carol and I dined at Citrus in Beaumaris (http://www.citrusrestaurant.com.au/) last night. Its reputation had preceded it for a while and the Entertainment Book reviews we read were OK.

So how do I sum it up? Boring! Expensive for what it offered! And extremely ordinary food.

Where do I start? How about with the maître d’hôtel who mumbled some sort of greeting and, when I explained we had a reservation, seemed to be concerned he was expecting half the entire suburb of (boring) Beaumaris to turn up. The four occupied tables suggested this wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t as though everyone had decided not to eat last night – the Lobster Cave next door was positively buzzing.

We could then move onto he fact we sat for ten minutes at out table before we were even asked if we’d like a drink. Not to worry, it gave us a chance to take in the wonderful atmosphere, which consisted of a bunch of boring as bat shit 80s songs playing in the background. Guess what? Chuck e’s in love.

The menu was largely unspectacular. At a venue where I was expecting to shell out more than $200 for the two of us for dinner, and was more than happy to do so, I thought it was very disappointing.

The tasting plate as an appetiser with our drinks (yep, we finally got them) was OK, but at $23, should have had double the amount of food on it. And given we told them we were sharing, why would they only put one mussel on the plate? And one mushroom?

Carol’s pan fried scallops, chorizo and capsicum puree for entre was disappointing – very bland, with the puree adding absolutely nothing to the dish. My tempura battered oysters with wasabi mignonette was a major disappointment. The batter was soggy – I’ve actually seen better batters produced by my local fish and chips shop. The mignonette just tasted like lime juice.

Our mains were also disappointing. Carol thought the ingredients in her risotto were good, but where was the chilli? My bouillabaisse, which is supposed to be the house specialty, was terrible. My dictionary says that bouillabaisse is a “highly seasoned fish stew made with at least two kinds of fish”. It turned up on an ordinary dinner plate, instead of a bowl, which is how I would have thought most people would serve a stew. And “highly seasoned”? It had a flavourless sauce of some sort spread over it.

The ordinary experience continued with the $35 bottle of Mornington Peninsula Pinot we had, which was unspectacular.

We decided not to bother with deserts or coffee – we’d had enough. At this point, we moved on to the best part of the night – the taxi turned up within 3 minutes of me booking it on my iPad.

Citrus @ Beaumaris – you need to lift your game. Big time. A good starting point would be to start offering better value. And give your food some character.

Citrus on Urbanspoon

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Each Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday, I enjoy reading through the list of people who have received honours. I don’t always agree with the reasons people have been honoured and also get frustrated with the way the politicians look after themselves and their mates. However, I always admire people who commit to a cause and give it their all.

So today, I went to The Age web site to check the list. It could be my failing eyes, and I didn’t have my glasses on, but nowhere could I find reference to the list. Hmm, is this the same newspaper that wants to make a return to quality? Good call I’d say.

I then searched for “queens birthday honours” in my browser and the first hit was for www.itsanhonour.gov.au. Ah, that’ll be it. No, firstly you get to click on a database link for all recipients, ever. Not quite what I wanted.

Next you get referred to the Attorney General’s web site, to try and find the copy of the Government Gazette where they are listed. Too hard!

Finally, you get referred to the Governor General’s web site. I’m assuming that’s where they’ll be, but I won’t know just now – the web site’s down.

So to all those who received honours, congratulations. It’s just a pity it’s so damn hard to find you.

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I had the same, generally annual, discussion with my electricity retailer today. It, or I should say United Energy, hasn’t been able to read our electricity meter for a couple of years.

The reason is that we have gates at the front of the property and people are here irregularly during the week. We’re comforted by the fact there are two dogs, one of whom is a rottweiler cross, who will happily tear your arm off if you decide to jump the gate though.

For some reason, United Energy needs to physically see its water meter, love it, caress it, make passionate love to it, etc regularly, as well as noting down the numbers on it.

I ask the same question every year – why doesn’t United Energy allow me to take a photo of my meter and send it to them? My water provider allows me to do that. I can either call them, e-mail them something, or even SMS the meter reading to them.

United Energy, you need to come into the 21st Century!

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I dislike Mick Malthouse, the current coach of the Collingwood football side. I dislike Collingwood too, but I’m not in the minority there.

People have claimed I don’t like Malthouse because he’s associated with Collingwood. NOT TRUE! Did you hear that AN (you know who you are)? It’s not true.

I dislike Malthouse because I think he’s a goose. In most press interviews he does, he’ll try and do something quirky to make us think he’s some sort of comedic genius. Not surprisingly, he’s not recognised as such. I’ve never seen his posters up in lights for the Comedy Festival.

I also dislike him because he lacks credibility. Last year, he was accused of calling St Kilda player, Stephen Milne, a rapist. It was actually worse than that, but I’ll spare you the profanity. Malthouse publicly denied the accusation.

And before I go any further, don’t bother coming back at me because Milne is a St Kilda player. It would be the same if it was Fred Blogs from Geelong or Artie Pharnarkle from Fremantle.

It was only when the overwhelming evidence came forth that it was exactly what Malthouse had called Milne that he came out and apologised to him. Where’s your credibility, Mick?

So it was no surprise to find out that Malthouse, while commentating on radio, has accused a player of blatant cheating when he falsely claimed to have scored a goal that was kicked through by an opposition player.

You know what, Mick? What you should have said was “I decline to comment because I have no credibility, as I demonstrated when my side played St Kilda last year”. You are the last person who should be calling someone a cheat!

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A few weeks ago, we had a boys’ night out to see Tom Gleeson at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. We were seated in the back row, with four people sitting in front of us who constantly talked through his performance and complained that he wasn’t funny. At one stage Tom heard these comments and did a great job of putting the main protagonist in his place. The second time they were ejected.

Now, am I missing something here? This wasn’t his first performance. He wasn’t being promoted as a brand new comedian who no one had ever heard before. His TV and radio exposure is significant. So why would four people part with just on $100 to go and see someone who they’d already concluded wasn’t funny? Bizarre!

(I was reminded of this when I saw one of Tom’s mini-gags on Facebook this morning – “Will and Kate stay at $5600 a night resort. How much do they pay search and rescue pilots?”)

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The Age had a story this morning on another Tiger Airways debacle. Why anyone would fly with these clowns is a complete mystery to me.

If you dig down into the comments in the article, you’ll find this.

image

Bravo Make A Wish Foundation!

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I hate Qantas!

That may not come as too much of a surprise to those that know me. I concede I get carried away sometimes with the adverse way I rate Qantas when compared to Virgin Blue, an airline which I consider to be a vastly superior domestic carrier in Australia.

However, on this occasion, let me try and strip the emotion away and explain why Virgin Blue is better. The scenario is this. I am scheduled to travel to Perth from Melbourne with Qantas (not my choice) on an Airbus A330. The aircraft on which we are supposed to travel is 40 minutes late arriving from Sydney. Something to get upset about? Not really. After all it is Boxing Day with half of Australia travelling it seems, there is adverse weather all around the country and this particular aircraft originates from Sydney, notorious for causing delays.

However, 30 minutes after the revised boarding time for out flight, it is apparent that something isn’t right. 40 minutes after the revised boarding time there is finally an announcement. There is a problem with the flaps on the aircraft and we would be kept informed. Do I have a problem with Qantas being 100% certain the aircraft is airworthy? Absolutely not. Do I have a problem with having to wait 40 minutes to find out what’s going on? Absolutely.

Issue 1: Failure to keep the customers informed.

To Qantas’s credit, they have done a couple of good things I haven’t seen before. The flight attendants have come into the lounge to hand out drinks, nibbles and ice creams. Also, one of the flight crew is present in the lounge to deal with any customer enquiries.

After another period of time (I must admit, I don’t remember how long), we are advised the aircraft is unserviceable and they have arranged a replacement aircraft. This will leave from a lounge at the other end of the terminal at 3:00pm, 2 hours 25 minutes after the original scheduled departure time. We can present our boarding pass at a food outlet to receive a meal to the value of $10 (wow, that gets you a lot at Melbourne airport). We also need to present our boarding passes at the service desk, because there is a change of aircraft, to a Boeing 767 with a different seating configuration.

Issue 2: It took around 40 minutes to give everyone (approximately 250 people) a new boarding pass, with the queue stretching a very long way through the terminal. Seriously Qantas, you’ve already screwed people around. Couldn’t you actually plan for these events and organise for some more people to be available?

So, having been informed by the Qantas staff members at the service desk that the food voucher was actually $20, off we toddle to get some lunch.

Issue 3: The people at the food outlets have been told the voucher value was $10, while the customers have been told it’s $20.

Back to the lounge now as we don’t want to miss our 3:00pm departure. At 3:10pm, still sitting in the lounge, it is apparent we are not leaving at 3:00pm. Then there is an announcement from one of the flight crew that, because of the different aircraft type and the delay, catering needs to be re-done for the flight and sourced from the Qantas kitchens. There will be a further delay and we are not expected to leave until 4:30pm, a smidgeon less than four hours later than the original scheduled departure.

Issue 4: Why does Qantas get so hung up on feeding people? Even for a 4 hour flight to Perth, surely it’s possible for people to forego feeding their faces. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve experienced delays with Qantas because of “catering requirements”. Also, the appalling quality of the food just doesn’t justify the more expensive fare. I don’t care if it’s inspired by Neil Perry. It’s still crap.

Issue 5: As a much younger airline, Virgin Blue has the benefit of having one type of aircraft on its major routes, the Boeing 737. Qantas has a mixture of 737s, Airbus and Boeing 767 aircraft. Thus when problems occur, Virgin has much better flexibility to make changes to aircraft with a minimum of inconvenience.

In summary, you’re always going to get emotional, almost religious wars, about which is the better airline. Customer service, good or bad, is pretty subjective. Did they smile at me? Did they keep me informed? Was the captain there to wave me goodbye as I left the aircraft?

But when considering Issues 4 and 5 above, there is no good reason why you would seriously consider flying Qantas domestically in Australia. It’s dearer than the competition (generally speaking), its customer service is choppy, and operationally, it is in a much worse position than the competition to react to unexpected events. And that’s mainly why I choose to fly Virgin. And they smile!

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