Got me thinking how far we had come in our small town, food wise, since I arrived down here nearly three decades ago.
Then we had the basic Greek cafe, which was ubiquitous in most country towns, serving simple meals for breakfast (a fry up), lunch and dinner (meat and three veg) as well as take away hamburgers especially ones with the lot *, fish and chips and rotisserie chicken. There were two Chinese restaurants, again normal for most country towns, a few fish and chips places and a couple of Italian trattorias/pizza joints that catered to the large Italian population (we were a busy fishing port then).
And of course the three pubs as well as the service, golf and bowling clubs served cheap meals.
Posh eating out was limited to The Harbourside (now a less than stellar asian restaurant) and Millards Cottage (now a real estate office) and Tory's, a very expensive seafood restaurant (now a leveled weed infested block of land waiting for a building development that never eventuates).
Of course there were small cafes and other takeaways including bakeries and pie shops (meat pies are a staple lunch 'to go').
I remember an Indian restaurant stayed for quite a while, lost favour and then mysteriously caught fire one night. There was also a longish term Vietnamese restaurant that did well but is now gone and an Australianised Thai that was very popular until they moved a little way out of town. A Stone Grill also came and went.
Fast food chains began taking an interest in the town. McDonalds and KFC began sniffing around. The community was very anti these companies as they had a reputation of forcing local small cafes to close in areas where they became established. It took many years before these two were granted permission by Council to operate and indeed they caused, for a time, the negative result on local businesses we all dreaded. Since then the Domino Pizza and Subway chains have also moved in.
A momentous culinary event was when Rick Stein of TV chef fame opened a restaurant here. The tourists love it but I think many locals have been stung a little too often by the really high prices for what is basically still fish and chips.
We stick to places like the Japanese mentioned above, an excellent genuine Thai,Yes I Am (get it?) and Milkhaus for their 'out there' menu. All are BYO (bring your own wine).
Both our town and our sister town, Milton, 6 km up the road, are chocked full of coffee shops some serving excellent food at very reasonable prices.
Our favourites are Brown Sugar, The Treehouse and the vegetarian Pilgrims. There is also an excellent wood fired pizza place that has been there for ever (still cash only; no cards).
The co driver is a Mavericks affectionado. They roast their own coffee on site.
How so many manage to survive given the relative small market ( the two towns plus surrounding area's population is around 15000) is always a mystery to me. Perhaps they make hay while the sun shines when our population quadruples during the 6 week summer holiday period as well as other holiday periods eg. Easter.
Not as easy to find these days (thanks McDonalds and Hungry Jacks! not) but are still around.
A meal in a bun.
And they taste as good as they look.
But not so easy to eat.
And the golden rule is never eat one wearing white. The beetroot will get you every time!