Taking a punt on tuna

November 2009

Last week, in the course of my work, I was eating at a popular and generally highly regarded café at Palm Beach, The Greedy Goat. Lovely, hot day as it was, my companion ordered the salade nicoise, which is traditionally made with serviceable, tinned tuna, which is fine. Up here, however, they decided to be a bit upmarket and top the salad with a grilled tuna steak, which is also fine in theory. My friend requested the tuna barely cooked, leaving the inside glassy, knowing all too well how easily a tuna steak can toughen and dry out. Request accepted.

Alas, when the dish arrived the tuna was cooked through — tough and dry — and spoilt an otherwise perfect salad. Once the table was cleared, the waitress returned and overheard our discussion about the tuna before approaching to enquire why it hadn’t been eaten.  Ah yes, she said, they’d just been discussing that very problem in the kitchen. It was a difficulty with the supplier, apparently.  The fish couldn’t be lightly cooked because it arrived in individual portions, frozen and vacuum-packed and wasn’t hauled out of the freezer until it was ordered. Rapid defrosting in the microwave started the cooking before it hit the grill … yada yada yada. 

Had my friend known the fish was going to be nuked from frozen she wouldn’t have ordered it. The lesson, therefore, is assume nothing and ask if you’re unsure. But, more importantly, why does the café continue to use a supplier they’re less than happy with and continue to serve a dish they already know is a problem?

They shouldn’t have charged at all for that dish but took $5 off the bill instead.  Service was friendly and the rest of the meal was good. Pity about the tuna.  Still, with the overfishing problem, it might be a good idea to take it off the menu anyway.

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