Being a vegetarian occasionally presents difficulties and I try to overcome these wherever possible, without making a fuss. The biggest challenge would be a lack of or minimal vegetarian options offered at some dining venues.
One of my expectations when eating out is to not be made to feel different. I want to blend in with the rest of the diners and concentrate on enjoying the meal, with the only distinction being what’s on my plate.
With no New Year’s Eve plans due to a bicycle drama (that’s a story for another day) I jumped at the chance to join a group of friends who were having a degustation dinner at Bishop Sessa, formerly Crown Street Assembly, in Surry Hills.
The restaurant promoted the degustation on social media so after receiving confirmation from them that they could accommodate a vegetarian, I happily joined 11 other food lovers to deliciously ring in the new year over seven courses.
A long table upstairs by the window was reserved for us and we were the first to arrive. The hardwood floors, wooden furniture and high ceilings created a very loud environment – the combination of chattering guests, 80’s background music and cutlery clinking on crockery produced so much noise that it was difficult to hear the conversations at the table. This was most noticeable when returning to the dining area after visiting the bathroom. Sitting for a few hours on a hard wooden chair wasn’t overly friendly on the b-hind.
There was some initial confusion between the wait staff as to how many courses I would be having. Unfortunately some of my dishes were served at different times so for some courses, I wasn’t eating with the rest of the table. It can be a tad embarrassing when your dining pals ask you where your food is.
A couple of my courses were also served as additional sharing plates for the rest of the group. This meant my dining companions had much more than me, yet we were paying the same price.
I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer as the food was quite good!
- Beetroot salad with smoked goats cheese and caramalised walnuts (my favourite)
- Mushroom and shallot dumplings
- Eggplant and Dutch carrots with chilli jam and orange marmalade (this was too hot for me)
- Pearl barley and sweet potato risotto
- Vegetarian tart with onion and zucchini
- Dessert plate – Italian meringue with strawberries, choc-caramel tart, coffee-choc mousse
Yes, you counted right. I only had six courses – not seven as advertised or nine as received by the rest of the table. I did feel a bit like I had missed out, especially hearing how much everyone else enjoyed their meal. You will be pleased to know that afterwards one of my fellow diners had a chat with the staff and they offered me a rebate on my meal. Thank you!
To be fair, it was New Year’s Eve and the restaurant appeared to be fully booked so they were flat out. And perhaps I should have double checked with the restaurant as to how they were going to accommodate to help eliminate any confusion on the night.
As for the noise – I hear they may be installing carpet which I expect would alter the acoustics and absorb some of the sound.
For me it’s a lesson to speak up as people can only make improvements when they know what needs to be fixed!
Have you ever had a dining experience that has taught you something for next time?