I've been reading mixed messages on tipping in Australia. Lonely Planet says tipping is not expected but appreciated, other sources say no only rarely, or yes around 5-10-15%, or only in really nice restaurants.
So, what do you do? Do you tip at all restaurants, or only when service is truly outstanding, or only at fancy ones? What is your standard percentage?
I've been scouring various menus in SYD and MEL, and although these are some of the nicer places, I am surprised at how high the prices are, especially desserts. In the US, desserts are usually a little less than the average starter and about 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of the average main at a restaurant, but rarely more than $10 - maybe a few are $12- 15 in our biggest cities. I've been looking at a lot of menus with $20-25 desserts, up to $35 at the higher end! This boggles my mind, especially because as a pastry chef I know that the food cost on most desserts is only a dollar or two or three. Are these prices a reflection of restaurant workers being paid a living wage (and not relying on tips for income) or is it just a different approach, that the dessert has equal value as the starter, even if the dessert is fruit and cream when the starter was meat and fish (i.e. more expensive)? Sometimes I like to order two desserts - for professional research purposes of course - but I can't afford that at $25 each (especially if tipping is expected on top of that)!
Thanks for your insight.