Welcome to the inaugural instalment of “Ask a Prick”. Got a question? E-mail pwafork [at] gmail [dot] com.
Dear Mr Prick: My sister and her husband have one last day of freedom before their son comes back from a week with the grandparents and are looking for a place to settle in for a weekend long lunch. Any suggestions? –Law-Talkin’ Guy, The Rocks
Dear LTG: Glad you asked. As a parent myself, I can understand your sister and brother-in-law wanting to enjoy some kid-free time. Without dragging up ancient history, a case could be made that a lack of such leisure was a contributing factor leading to every other weekend being kid-free here at Stately Prick Manor. But I digress: Long lunches are great, but they must be done right, especially when one has few opportunities to enjoy them. Settling in at the pub for a spot of lunch and then staggering home after sundown will not do. It’s a waste of time and money, and a midnight hangover is never fun.
No, your sister and brother-in-law need to go someplace nice. Someplace with some atmosphere, and, despite the risks, someplace with a view. Oh, and someplace with good food and a great wine list. Someplace, in fact, like the Bather’s Pavilion in Balmoral: not the café, mind you, but the actual restaurant. Tell them to get a table by the window and watch the water and the walkers, who always provide something to comment on should conversation flag. Not that it would, of course.
The food at Bather’s is modern without distracting modernist flourishes, but also solidly grounded in French classical technique, which you would expect from Quebecois chef-owner Serge Dansereau. Likewise the wine list, which is pretty extensive, but to eliminate confusion they should just keep bottles of the Ruinart Blanc des Blancs coming.
Bather’s has long been a favourite “occasion” place for Mr and Mrs Prick, and we’ve had a number of celebratory birthday and promotion meals here. This is a kitchen which knows how to make a galantine of quail and a magret du canard, but which also embraces mod-Oz ingredients like kingfish sashimi and West Australian marrons. In the past – I haven’t seen it on the menu for a while – I have also had a brilliant chestnut soup here, and hopefully it will come back on the menu as the weather cools down.