Martin Bosley bought his first restaurant at the age of 21. He’s never worked in an office and he has a beautiful restaurant named after him on the Wellington waterfront. We talked waitressing, break-ups and bacon over the Crab shack stack at lunchtime on Wednesday. I learnt a very important lesson that day: never make it a lunch date with the guy who owns the bar.
We began with bubbles at the bar. I was rather excited about getting to pick the brains of one of our country’s top chefs. I admitted though that it was waitressing that was my true calling, rather than slaving away in the kitchen, and he said what I probably forget is the long hours, the sore feet and heavy plates. I still romanticise it though, and I could totally relate to what he tells his wait staff: if people are having a good time, make then have a great time. If people are having a great time, make them have an outstanding time. And if people are breaking up, leave them the hell to it, basically.
The restaurant is in the Port Nicholson yacht club, and was recently declared by the Dominion Post to be the best restaurant in which to dine as a duo. Bosley said he’s seen it all at those tables: break ups, marriage proposals, break ups straight after marriage proposals, right down to the man whose girlfriend left him at the table and never came back. Martin left him long enough before he figured he simply had to tell the guy she wasn’t returning: “She’s just in the bathroom” the man said. “Um, no she isn’t sorry, I helped her with her coat, she’s gone.” Apparently he sat through the meal anyway. Poor guy.
The amuse bouche of tuna and freeze-dried mandarin segments made me sorry I wasn’t here for a full degustation.
So the restaurant setting provides a fascinating look at human behaviour then? Most definitely. Bearing witness to so many dates, what were his thoughts? He thinks we’re a little bit ill-equipped for dating. He said he sees these gorgeous, confident women and men with just these huge expectations. He’s witnessed the comfortable and subtle foot touching under the table, but also the man who held his date’s hand the entire time, right through the meal. That only sent one message really, and that was ownership. He wondered if females sometimes send the wrong message too, and also that men are not terrified of woman (a la Jimmy Nesbitt) but are probably a bit terrified about what their role is these days.
We were discussing etiquette when our burgers arrived. The crab shack stack contained a crab cake (bound with ground almonds), lettuce and tomato (like all good burgers should), avocado (excellent), and what Martin described as the third seasoning (along with salt and lemon) - bacon. It was contained in a freshly made and freaking tasty sourdough bun, with crayfish mayonnaise and Marty’s bulldog barbecue sauce. When I had my first bite with the sauce and the mayo, I was in a very very happy place. Our chaperone and photographer Angela said the same thing about the cheesy fries. It was explained that they came about as a way to incorporate cheese onto the plate without putting it with the seafood, which one should never do of course. They were delicious, and I told Martin they reminded me of summer holidays with friends at the beach where we’d order chips from the shop, and they’d come all wrapped up covered in cheese and tartare sauce, all melted in. So so good.
On etiquette, Bosley said he doesn’t think any woman should get offended by a man pulling a chair out for her. He believes you should treat every woman the way you would your mother, which includes gestures like the chair. We got into some funny dating stories, and he told one of a friend who brought around her new boyfriend, but part way through she “got the ick” and knew instantly it was all over. This poor gentleman had done none nothing wrong, it was just in that setting all of a sudden, she simply did not fancy him anymore. Such is life.
On that note, the burgers were swiftly dealt to. That combination of the soft and flavour filled crab cake, with avocado and bacon and that life-changing crayfish mayonnaise, was absolutely delicious. I was just very sorry I had to go back to work; he’d done is research (into what I liked to drink) and although I was tired and very slightly seedy post-birthday, I really quite fancied the idea of continuing our chat over cocktails all afternoon.
The vital stats:
9/10 - a charming date and an absolutely delicious burger.
Thank you to Martin Bosley for being and hosting date #14. Next time it’ll be dinner!