Taking licence with good food
Peter Patten, of Albany, writes: "Some of us will recall the early days of licensed restaurants in Auckland, the glory days of Otto Groen and Bob Sell. I found a copy of Bob Sell's La Boheme restaurant menu — Otto Groen (the Gourmet Restaurant) was primarily responsible for enabling New Zealand to join the rest of the developed world in civilised eating, meaning wine with a meal.
"He was fined frequently for daring to sell alcohol with a meal. Until the rules were changed. Before that, the only legal option for alcohol with a meal was at hotels and then beer was the usual choice. Assuming Bob's prices are dated from when we were married back in 1959, how's this for a look back?
"Let's assume my wife had the same meal as me and we shared a bottle of Liebfraumilch (a sweet white wine — far too sweet for us now!). The meal consisted of toheroa soup, Crayfish Supreme and Green Heaven dessert (Crème de Menthe — a liqueur — ice cream, topped with nuts and fruit with whipped cream).
"The mains were served with salads, French fried potatoes and French bread and butter. However, using the Reserve Bank's inflation calculator, I come up with an inflation-adjusted bill of around $218 now. As a youngish accountant with a salary around $3500 before tax, this would have been a major deal."
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