In Cervantes, we ran into a situation that always amuses us when we’re in Australia.
We finally pulled into town at about 6:00 at night. The hosts at our B&B suggested a couple restaurants (which is made much simpler by the fact that there are only a couple restaurants in town).
We went around the corner to the restaurant that was recommended most highly and it was nearly empty. To be best of my recollection only three of maybe twenty tables were occupied. The hostess asked if we had reservations. When we said no, she said, “Sorry, we’re fully booked. We can’t accommodate you for dinner if you don’t have reservations.”
This is an odd Australian quirk. We first experienced it a few years ago when we tried to have dinner at a very nice restaurant in Brisbane. It was 5 o’clock and the restaurant was completely empty but the host said he couldn’t seat us because the restaurant was completely booked.
“But the place is empty,” I said.
“Yes, but we’re completely booked at 7:00.”
This was baffling. I said, “That’s two hours from now. All we want to do is eat. We’ll be out of here long before seven.”
“Really? Are you sure you can finish that quickly? If you’re not, I’ll have to ask you to leave when the other diners arrive.”
In America, restaurants try to turn tables as fast as they can and serve as many people as they can every night. Not so in Australia. They expect one party to fill a table for the evening.
This, and the fact that waiters and waitresses don’t get tips, may explain why service is soooooo slow here. You almost have to ask to have your order taken. You definitely have to ask them or “organize the bill” or you’ll sit at the damn table all night. They expect it.
And that, my friends, explains why we couldn’t get seated in an empty restaurant in Cervantes.