Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Australia/New Zealand >
Jul 24, 2011 03:19 PM

Dress Code for Melbourne and Sydney Restaurants; Tipping

In Melbourne, I’m considering dinner at Cumulus and in Sydney dinner at Etch. We will be site seeing all day, so will be dressed casually and wearing walking shoes. Will we be appropriately dressed for these restaurants? We are visiting from the Los Angeles area, and here, you see a wide range in dress even in the fine dining restaurants, from T-shirts to jackets w/ ties.

My second question is on tipping. I’ve read that tipping is not expected except for over and above service and fine dining restaurants. Would you tip at restaurants like Cumulus and Etch for average service? If yes, how much? Thanks for your help.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Dress standards in Sydney are very wide ranging, that said Etch is in the Intercontinental Hotel so people dress up a little, but no need to go mad. I would advise against t-shirt and shorts but no need for a jacket (Sydney is chilly at the moment). I always think Melbourne is more "formal" than Sydney; formal in a fashion sense compared to Sydney's more beach culture. So you may find your fellow diners in Melbourne are better dressed.

    No need to tip in Australia, and definitely no ned to tip for average service.

    6 Replies
    1. re: PhilD

      There's probably no "required" dress code. I had diiner at Quay this past week and there was a table of business people and some were wearing runners, jeans, t-shirts and wind breakers.

      1. re: BeanTownGolfer

        BeanTownGolfer you should post a report of your meal at Quay. I am going in Sept for the first time and would love to hear about it.

        1. re: rr2035

          That's a good point. I'll try to get to that this weekend. To start, best high end meal I've had in my 15 months in Australia so far (though I haven't been to that many high end places).

      2. re: PhilD

        "No need to tip in Australia, and definitely no ned to tip for average service."

        I would say no tipping for bad service
        A small tip (rounding up the bill) for average service
        A 10% tip for good or very good service.

        I have worked in many and owned several restaurants and this is the most common practice.

        1. re: jojo70

          "I have worked in many and owned several restaurants and this is the most common practice." - in Australia? Again not certain this is an objective comment.

          1. re: PhilD

            I'm with you PhilD, I find it interesting that some people are saying there is a tipping culture in Australia when tipping is not the norm and certainly not mandatory, much less reflected as being a percentage of the bill as is done in the US. I know many restaurant owners, chefs, servers etc. and I do not believe any of them feel that we have a tipping culture in Australia. Certainly go ahead and tip if you feel you would like to but in no way is it mandatory or the norm.

      3. Cumulus is what you make of it. I have been there in full business attire and in tshirt and jeans. Most of the front of house staff have tattoos on display, so I wouldn't worry too much! ;)

        1. I'm in Melbourne, and my partners in hospitality, and would be devastated to see people say that there is no need to tip in Australia.
          We always tip, especially for Good Service.
          Its simply an acknowlegment of the service you receive, and the efforts your wait staff have put in. We tip on average 10-15% of the bill.
          So yes to tipping - but probably not as much as in the USA.

          Dont know about Etch but Cumulus Inc is smart casual, anything from jeans to suits, depends on how you want to treat you own evening.

          7 Replies
          1. re: ccmyplaymate

            I would not want to start the whole tipping in Aus thread again so here is a link -

            I always find it interesting that those that work in hospitality always recommend tipping. Interesting correlation - I wonder why?

            1. re: PhilD

              You should definitely tip restaurant staff in australia. 10% is the general average for good service and less if it wasnt up to scratch. its completely fine to leave nothing for bad service. I've disagreed with PhilD on this before. I know that MOST people DO tip. As a restaurant manager, i see the credit card slips every night for many years, and i can assure you that the majority of customers (at least in sydney) DO TIP.

              smart casual is fine for every restaurant in sydney. nice jeans and collared shirt is the standard. maybe a jacket for the very top few places.

              1. re: brunelleschi

                Yes we do disagree ( and after spending last year at home In Sydney I still disagree, none of my friends or relatives seem to have changed their habits and they still don't tip.

                As I said in my previous post it is always seems to be people in hospitality who say tipping is the norm, and you must tip, and you must tip at least 10%. And it always seems to be regular diners who say you don't - odd.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Sorry, Phil's right. nobody tips here.

                  1. re: brunelleschi

                    Tipping is not mandatory however it is VERY common practice amongst diners, particularly in high end restaurants

                  2. re: PhilD

                    PhilD's 100% right - tipping's never been an Aussie practice, although foreign visitors (especially Americans) seemed to have introduced the concept to the service industry.

                    Back in 1982-3, a close family friend (ex-Fremantle Port Authority commissioner) had this "horror story" which he told over dinner to many of us. During a holiday in New York, he & his wife left a fine dining restaurant without leaving a tip - the maitre'd actually ran after them, caught up with them outside the front door and demanded in a loud voice, "Sir, you FORGOT the tip!". I still remembered how absolutely horrifed we were when we heard about their experience. Of course, in those days, Perth was a small & pretty insular city - though that changed somewhat when Alan Bond won the America's Cup in 1983 and brought the yacht race to Fremantle :-)

                  3. re: brunelleschi

                    Definitely disagree. We rarely tip, and when we do tip 5% max. None of our family or friends tip and regard our tipping as an aberration brought on by living for several years in the USA.

              2. For the record I was at Cumulus tonight and didn't tip... although I have on many occasions. The service wasn't as good as it has been; as it appears Andrew McConnell's usual FOH have moved to Golden Fields in St. Kilda.

                3 Replies
                1. re: kersizm

                  I suspect this tipping argument doesn't help noodlie who asked the original question.
                  Obviously tipping is quite subjective in Australia.
                  So I'd advise, just like with what to wear, what to tip in Australia comes down to how comfortable you feel.
                  Its not an obligation its about the service and the dining experience on the night.

                  1. re: ccmyplaymate

                    "...what to tip in Australia comes down to how comfortable you feel." it is an interesting point, visitors from the US are often uncomfortable not leaving a 15 to 20% tip, likewise I am uncomfortable leaving such a tip when I visit the US. If the former is OK, then why isn't the latter?

                    For me being comfortable is about understanding the local customs and traditions. I tip in the US, I don't in France and Australia. I pay the service charge in the UK (in cash if i can so the waiter has a chance of getting it). There are very good reasons tipping is so high in the US and tipping is not essential in Australia (much discussed differentials in wage structures), so why the campaign to change the game - another server agitating for greater tips perhaps?

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Actually Phil My profession has nothing to do with the hospitality industry.
                      I simply gave an opinion as someone who lives and eats in Melbourne.
                      I think noodlie can decide what "comfortable" means to them when visiting Australia, and does not need to be dictated to by you.
                      I've stated that it's not an obligation to tip here.
                      I tip, you don't.

                2. Not to beat a dead horse, but I had a prime example on why tipping is not a requirement in Australia. I went to a nice-ish place tonight (2 hats) and had a bite to eat at the bar with a few mates. We all ordered wines by the glass and the waiter wasn't paying attention to at least one order and brought a cab instead of a sancerre. Picky, maybe a little but it was a continuation from the last meal here and a hint on what to expect for the rest of the night. We ordered and the entrees came out at random times. One was done before another came out. Sure we're sitting at a bar, but it's still up to the bartender to keep things in order. The mains come out and we're a few bites in when the bartender who took the order notices the sides aren't out yet and tells us "just a few minutes" on the sides. We all keep eating only to slow down as we're all halfway through still waiting on the sides. Then we stop and ask. Finally, well past halfway through the mains, do the sides come out. To top it off, they weren't seasoned coming out of the fryer (what I used to think were the best onion rings anywhere). If it was the only issue for the night I could have looked past it, but it wasn't.

                  In the US I would have tipped 10% but knowing the wages here I had no reason to tip. Not just for the bad service, but the lack of attention. I've been to this place at least a dozen times (bar and restaurant) over the past year and the service has gone downhill. For a company that brags about $500,000 in weekly salary across the company, it's tough to want to go back with such poor service. Tipping is a gratuity, a thanks for good service. Not a requirement for dining at their restaurant.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BeanTownGolfer

                    BeanTownGolfer....I would not have tipped the waiter either for ignoring us, bringing out the orders at random and the food not being up to scratch.
                    If the service or food is sub tip!