Who is missing restaurants? I’m pining for them and not just because the review column that I wrote for these pages every Sunday for 13 years is having some time in socially distant pasture.
Of all the reasons that might have called time on my column – budget cuts, fresh voice, the editor doesn’t like the way I use adjectives – it never, never, ever occurred to me that the reason might be, “It’s impossible to eat out in Melbourne.” That was absolutely not foreseeable. In so many ways, Melbourne is its restaurants. They are a drawcard, a forum for creativity, an energetic engine driving our city and its people.
I’m sad about my column but I’m mostly stricken about the reason behind its departure. That is, the closure of restaurants and cafes and pubs and bars, the uncertain times faced by tens of thousands of employees and business owners, the loss of that way of gathering, expressing ourselves, sharing culture and community and finding meaning and connection.
For me, writing about Melbourne restaurants was always a way to write about Melbourne people, to elucidate the reasons they cook food and serve it the way they do, and in so doing, share of themselves, give from their hearts and hands, honour the bond between host and guest.