1966: Pellegrini's, Bourke Street. The occasion: Lunch with my father, who was a catering industry salesman, and Leo. I was nine. Ate: spaghetti saltati.
1968: David Wang chinese restaurant, Little Bourke Street. The occasion: my brother's birthday. The whole family went. Arrived in: Yellow Cabs HR Holden taxi with the chrome grab bar across the back of the front bench seat for passengers to hold, and smash their teeth on in a crash. Ate: the $2.50 per head banquet. Historical note: the cafe was part of the long-gone David Wang department store.
1969: McClure's, St Kilda Road. (McClure was the Four'n Twenty pies McClure.) Tartan carpet. Enclosed booths with banquettes and telephones via which diners ordered their meals. Real waiters subsequently materialised some time later with your telephoned order. Chicken a la King. Chateaubriand. Oysters Mornay. If you had a problem you had to call them up again. It was like room service without the room. Drink: Yalumba Carte D'Or Riesling. (Not me - I was 12.)
1973: Valentine's Italian Cafe, Elgin Street, Carlton. The occasion: dinner with my oldest sister who was 19 and studying zoology at Melbourne University. Ate: lasagne. We were served by the chef, a jolly old woman who came out from the kitchen to greet customers and take orders.
1976: Lebanese House, Russell Street. Melbourne's first Lebanese cafe, established 1958. The occasion: many. Student dinners. It was close to campus. Ate: Moughrabia with tender garlicky chicken and studded with soft chickpeas. Foulia, hot beans densely flavoured with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Kebbeh, lamb mince blended with crushed pinenuts and yogurt, deep fried and served with mint, lemon juice and dipping labne. Lahmi ahjin, spiced mince and onions on a bed of filo pastry and eaten with taboule. Drank: gallons of Brown Brothers red.