When bad dining turns good

THERE’S a world of difference between an awful dining experience and a brilliant one and surprisingly, it’s not always about the food.

This point was reinforced to me over the weekend, when my family and I stayed at Clear Mountain Lodge, about 90 minutes north-west of the Coast. This time of year has become so ridiculously busy that we decided to book a peaceful pre-Christmas jaunt, away from busy schedules, Christmas catch-ups and chaotic crowds. Just quietly, I think we may have just created a new family tradition.

But back to my story. Plonked in the middle of bushland around half an hour from Brisbane city, Clear Mountain is a beautiful area that I didn’t even know existed until a few weeks ago. There is very little to do up there other than eat, drink, swim and relax, so that’s exactly what we did.


It meant eating in the same restaurant four times in two days, which wasn’t a big deal – I didn’t prepare a meal, cook or clean any dishes for a full weekend so I wasn’t complaining.

At least, I wasn’t complaining at dinner the first night, for the first 30 minutes after we ordered our meals and waited for our burgers to arrive.

Or the first 40 minutes. Or even the first 50 minutes.

It was only when we had been waiting an hour for our meals – at a table that included our one-year-old and four-year-old – that we all started to get a tiny bit hangry.

Our kids were understandably fed up by this stage, so my husband took them back to our hotel room and not long afterwards, our meals finally arrived… almost 80 minutes after we’d placed our orders.

But we weren’t unhappy. You see, throughout the evening, the staff had been brilliant.

They were clearly under-staffed and embarrassed about the long wait, so they were over-attentive with service and delivered cups and straws for our kids to play with.

They also dropped off a complimentary bowl of wedges after our neighbouring table sent them back to the kitchen, as they’d ordered chips, not wedges – their loss, our win!

And when the manager noticed that my husband was missing from our table, I told him he’d taken the kids back to the room and asked for a doggy bag. My husband was pretty shocked to hear a knock at the door a few minutes later, only to be greeted by the restaurant manager who was hand-delivering his burger and fries!

At the end of the day, waiting over an hour for food is no-one’s idea of fun. But we walked away from the evening feeling like we’d had a great night, which made me realise that a shite dining experience can become a great one, purely based on attitude.

The fact that my steak sandwich was one of the best I’ve ever had? Well, that probably didn’t hurt either.