The importance of appearance … or am I shallow?

Caught up with the friend who launched me into the blogosphere the other night. Of course we talked about blogs, and blogging. “But yours is all about food,” she said. Well, y-e-s, that was the point of doing it. And we were a bit food-focused that night too … went to try Wellington’s only Caribbean restaurant, Calypso Café, in Taranaki Street. Not a great location, being on a busy arterial route, but we knew that in advance. We were there for the food. And my drunken pig, think that was the name of the dish, was delicious … the pork very tender, the rice of good quality and taste. But the whole wasn’t an I’d-come-again success. Beside the pork and rice, crammed onto the plate, was this great massed mound of chopped, stir-fried veggie (& pineapple?) pieces.  Plus the odd garnish – an overripe wedge of kiwifruit & a couple of rounds of slightly browning, sliced unpeeled banana. Now, sure, it’s bound to be an authentic approach, but this was restaurant food, not street fare. It had no eye-appeal. And it got me thinking, how can people in the food business get things so wrong? Just like on that TV show I’m a bit of a fan of, The Kitchen Job, where they try and save struggling restaurants & cafés, even a pie cart on one occasion, from financial melt-down. So I wondered what I’d do. ‘Cos with only nine diners including us that night, echoing in a large dining room, you have to wonder whether Calypso can survive. So, I’d keep the authentic street food look but make it smarter. Scale down the very generous portions, make them less pricey (they were very much at the top-end of café pricing). You might even sell a few desserts that way. And maybe serve the stir-fried veggie mix separately, in stylish bowls, garnished appealingly. That would put the place on my eating map. But for now it’s, tick, done that, move on.


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