No doggie-bag, no cry
They way we perceive risk is fascinating. When 129 people died in last year's Paris attacks, France suddenly - for a while - seemed a slightly scarier place to travel to. Ditto any other place which suffers violent attacks.
Iraq was probably the riskiest proposition in 2014 when it lost 9000 of its citizens through terrorism. If that's risky, then we should be scared witless leaving our houses every day. We manage to kill around 1200 of our citizens a month just on our roads. That's more than 14000 a year. Worse than Iraq in 2014. But, of course, fear is not rational. The people behind the glamorous new restaurant in the revamped and super-impressive Hyde Park Exclusive Books are testament to this.
The Social Kitchen and Bar is beautiful, serves good, very fashionable food (according to the menu blurb the restaurant is "louche", but, disappointingly, I saw no signs of disreputable behaviour) and most notably, won't allow you to take a doggie-bag if you can't finish your portion. It's simply too risky, apparently.
Two waiters and a manager explained in different apologetic ways that customers might leave the food for too long, or store it incorrectly, then eat it, get sick and sue or write to papers or some-such. They warn you on the menu about this (in very small print), but how can you know exactly how rich or sizeable your dishes will be?
When we suggested to our waiter that we might just sneak the rest of our delicious pork into our handbag, he suggested, sotto voce, that this ''would be embarrassing". Whether for him, for us, or both, we couldn't tell, but for his sake we left the meat to be thrown away in the kitchen bin (this is its fate, we were told).
I assume that highly pedigreed Australian chef Russell Armstrong must have had a scarring experience regarding take-aways, but in this country I like to think we're more concerned with food waste than litigation.
Perhaps I've just been lucky, but in all my cooking and doggie-bag years, I've never had a doggie-bag come-back. And seeing that piece of pig get chucked really left a bad taste in my mouth. Luckily nothing else did. The goose pâté was incredible, the raw fish with lime and coconut was impeccably fresh (even if the sauce was a bit scant, and needed some acidity), and the wine and cocktail lists are brilliant. Cheap it certainly ain't. Which I don't mind, if the food is good. And if I can take the remainder home. Social Bar & Kitchen, Hyde Park Corner, 011-268-6039.
Andrea Burgener is chef at The Leopard restaurant in Melville