Best fun of all? Channelling my inner sous-chef after over-ordering from terrific modern Asian restaurant Sunda via the Providoor website. (It’s easy enough to do.) “Have you used every saucepan in the house?” was the reaction from husband and child on surveying the kitchen wreckage.

Yes, it’s been fun. And yet … and yet. “We all want to feel a connection to whoever is looking after us,” says restaurateur Sunny Lusted, who with husband Ross is poised to open the 280-seat Woodcut at Sydney’s Barangaroo by the end of the year.

Melburnians are poised to eat out again. Shutterstock

And no matter how clever the product, how perfect the produce, you can’t get that connection with digital dining or doorstep dinners. You get it by going out and mixing with, you know, real people.

Because if we’ve learnt one thing over the pandemic, it’s that the restaurant experience is so much more than the sum of its food and wine parts. It’s the buzz of a full dining room; the cocktail that arrives right on cue; the banter with a waiter skilled enough to make you forget, for a while, the transactional basis of the relationship. Oh, and the joy of watching someone else cook.

And now? The hospitality industry is hanging on for dear life, venues are opening in fits and starts (if they’re opening at all), we’re all fed up with being at home, and who knows when dining out will be finally free of COVID-19 constraints?

Only one thing is for certain. We’ll be back.

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