It seems like the majority of complainants appear to be in the more senior age group.
The round plates round table couple continue to visit and continue to complain bitterly with every visit.
We are on the verge of asking them not to come back,after their latest comment last week that the best thing we could do with the soup is fling it down the sink as it was more akin to dirty dish water ..
|dishwater makes a nice stock|
I think I've mentioned before that if you persist in ordering the same menu item you run the risk of being known as the item in question,so we're currently referring to them as Timothy Taylor and his wife due to his penchant for a certain well known brew.
TT has taken to ordering a plain cheese sarnie (no butter,cheese sliced not grated,no garnish and with the bread roll not cut in half).Basically its a bap you'd throw together on the run at home,not something you'd want to pay the best part of a fiver for.
Mrs TT tries to order smoked salmon every time she comes in despite it not being on the menu.
This week rather than apologising(why do I do that?)I dared to suggest that there were lots of other lovely items on the menu if she'd care to see and was given a look which said I'd shat in her shoes not tried to serve her lunch.
Anyway, despite last weeks disappointing experience she decided to push the boat out with a bowl of soup and with the weather being fairly clement (oh joy )they decided to sit out in the garden,which improved everyones demeanour no end as it meant we all could look forward to a fairly pleasant Saturday lunch without the prospect of their beady eyes watching every move looking for problems and worse still drawing them to other peoples attention.
Would that life were so simple.
As I headed outside with the cutlery I could see Mrs TT fidgeting around pulling at chairs,judging on previous form probably looking for a piece of ground which had been steam rollered to within an inch of its life and measured with a spirit level before I'd put the chairs out.
Just then I happened to notice the redhead heading out in the same direction with a pile of my freshly laundered (on a boil wash)glass cloths.
I shot her the look known in the trade as 'staff conference look'.It consists of a raised eyebrow and eye gesture towards the kitchen.All done on the QT well out of any potential customers line of vision.
'What's the craic with the cloths?'
Guarding your supply of clean cloths is one of the most important roles in hospitality.People go though clean cloths like a dose of salts if you don't ration them.You would be surprised at the pleasure of being presented with a clean cloth on a Saturday night after you've battled on with a soggy tired one.Outstanding customer service is often rewarded with a clean polishing cloth and is always received with rapture.On particularly difficult nights the suggestion that we might treat ourselves to a clean polishing cloth always raises morale no end,and is almost akin to a lovely glass of fizz (well not quite) in the pleasure stakes,often resulting in squeals of delight.
SO you can see why the sight of a pile of these prized items heading out to the garden on a busy Saturday lunchtime when there could well be a drought later,might be of concern.
'Its Mrs TT ,she's wearing white trousers and she doesn't want to sit on the garden chair in case they get dirty,she asked for some tea towels to sit on'
I didn't need to say anything,theres another look, this one consists of a bit of lip curl and its a one that says:HEY GIRLFRIEND...I DONT THINK SO....
'Get some blue roll and wipe the seat for her,alternatively she can NOT sit on the garden seat or even better not wear white trousers thats she's afraid to fucking sit down in'
I was giving myself a mental pat on the back for saving the cloths and pondering the wisdom of choosing white as a trouser colour when they make you're not insignificant backside look twice as big as it already is when I overheard something which took away my benevolent mood too bloody quickly.
The thing with a terraced garden is there are many nooks and crannys which can have the effect of rendering oneself invisible to the customer whilst remaining within earshot of many a private conversation which can indeed be heard with perfect clarity.
The very pleasant couple who also come in on a Saturday lunchtime and are the absolute antithesis of the Timothy Taylors had joined them and were asking how the food was.
What I heard next had me fizzing.
I suppose I'd better rewind and explain what came to pass in the kitchen prior to the food going out.
As it happened all of the advertised mature cheddar on the sarnie menu had been grated in preparation for a busy lunchtime service so when the check came on for the sliced cheddar there was a momentary crisis which was quickly averted due to their being an alternative Scottish cheddar available which we happened to have on the cheeseboard.
I overheard TT telling the very pleasant couple that the cheese in his sandwich was definitely Red Leicester and not cheddar as advertised on the board and we could be done under the Trades Description Act.I heard his wife say that she was going to check what it said on the board as it was disgraceful and misleading.She was about to get up when I appeared from behind the trellis.
They nearly crapped themselves.
'Im sorry I couldn't help but overhear you're conversation there and I must point out that the cheese in your sandwich is in fact Cheddar though not the usual one as due to you requesting sliced not grated cheddar we had to use an alternative and actually more expensive Cheddar that we normally serve on our cheeseboard,yes its definitely a cheddar,but not to worry we won't charge any extra for the superior cheese.'
You should have seen their faces.
No wonder Chef thinks I get bogged down in inconsequential trivia but there was no bloody way I was letting them get away with that.The strange thing was after I'd put them straight they backed right off and were disturbingly nice for the rest of the afternoon..
The rest of Saturday passed remarkably peacefully.
But you know that saying the calm before the storm?
Well,as it transpired Saturday turned out to be the day Michael Fish told everyone there'd be no hurricane..
Come Sunday morning the bookings were racked up just how Chef likes them with a couple of lovely big tables so he can get rid of quite a few at the same time.
Everything was going pretty darn smoothly all things considered,when I headed over to a table which I wanted to move on quickly so I could get the table back for a later booking already waiting.
Just as I cleared the plates which by the way were as clean as a whistle,the sort of plate you pick up and think well no problems there,as an afterthought I asked if they'd enjoyed everything and thought I'd misheard the reply.
'To be honest NO it wasn't to my taste'
At this point I should have apologised and moved on,but true to form I couldn't leave it at that.
I enquired as to the problem.
'The gravy was too thin,I prefer a thicker gravy'
The following had every chance of backfiring spectacularly right in my face but I was curious..
'Oh,you mean like a Bisto gravy?'
But no they weren't offended at all..
'Yes exactly.I think you'll find if you add less water you will get a much better consistency'
Definitely time to step away,there is actually nothing further to say about this.
There was no request for the pudding board thankfully, they asked for the bill which I cheerily presented telling them I'd pass their comments on to the Chef..
You can imagine how well received the helpful tips on putting together the optimum gravy granule mix were received:
'I can't wait till I'm old,Im going to be a miserable old bastard and complain about EVERYTHING..'
By now there was a hefty queue forming at the bar,the pleasant weather had brought out more than the usual number of walk ins which we were trying too squeeze in alongside the bookings.
The bar is invariably the hardest job on a Sunday as you're right in the firing line,people can be very demanding, unreasonable and downright impatient to be served,the bar person has to be able to remain calm under pressure which reminded me of OCD boy and the day he snapped,put his hands up and said 'Guys!! can you give me a minute.. you can see I'm really busy here' which was actually a true fact but came across as more of a 'Talk to the hand cos the face ain't listening' statement,I had to grovel for ages to the Irish couple from around the corner after that outburst,I even feigned amusement through gritted teeth when their uncontrolled kids shoved a whole bog roll down the loo.
Anyway I could see a 'cough' older bloke getting agitated as I went past with the plates so I gave him a beam and said 'I'll be with you in just a moment'
Usually does the trick and buys a bit of time,at least they know they're not being ignored.
Next time I went past he was still there looking angry so I thought I better serve him.
'Yes what can I get for you?'
He was seething.
'I think you need to hire more help'
This is a thing which really annoys me,it doesn't matter how many staff you have on if 50 people all arrive unnanounced at the same time they aren't all going to get served immediately,especially when the bar is the size of ours,any more than two people behind there and all you end up doing is playing hands,knees bumpsadaisy rather than serving any actual customers.
At this point I got word that the kitchen had called a halt on any further orders so we were telling people there was a half hour wait before we could take their order.
I gave him a table number, asked him to take a seat outside and said we'd be over to get his order in half an hour or so.
It was a lovely afternoon,given the chance I would have loved to sit outside in the sun with a nice refreshing drink.
'So when I order in half an hour will i get my food straight away?'
'Well no it will have to be prepared and plated so probably about 15 minutes or so after that'
"WHAT..SO I HAVE TO WAIT 45 MINUTES FOR MY FOOD..THIS IS RIDICULOUS"
'Look I'm sorry theres a wait but theres a lot of orders on, the kitchen is very busy and there is a delay and we have a couple of bookings to order first'
'WHAT ?SO PEOPLE WHO HAVE BOOKED TAKE PRIORITY OVER ME?? AND YOU ARE EXPECTING ME TO WAIT 45 MINUTES'
There is no other answer to this statement than 'yes'..
The queue at the bar was three deep by now when someone started ordering cocktails which of course relieved the boredom NO END.
Just then a small bespectacled fellow caught my attention.
'Hello,I'm just sitting on the terrace out there and I've noticed that the wall is bulging out and looks like it could collapse at any time,if you have a minute I can just point out the places that look particularly vulnerable which you might want to do something about'
Never mind that the bar is three deep with impatient punters, with the kitchen bell ringing frantically due to food sitting on the pass waiting to go out and a distinct shortage of glasses on the bar,just excuse me a minute will you? whilst I pop outside and form a small consultation committee,conduct a detailed survey on the current status of the garden wall or even better do a quick impromptu shoring up job..
'Oh no, its fine its been like that for at least 100 years..'
I'm currently waiting for the Tripadvisor post entitled:
'The Landlady flouted health and Safety standards and showed compete disregard for customer safety..'
In other news we've employed what Chef calls a Career Kitchen Porter.
I use this phrase not in a disparaging way,let me tell you if you ever have the good fortune to come across an individual that aspires only to this position then HANG ON TO HIM.
Career Kitchen Porters are like gold dust in this neck of the woods.
This one likes to spend his recreational time with fun activities such as gulping lighter fuel then spewing it out and igniting it to the great amusement of onlookers, all the while filming the whole sorry debacle on a smart phone.An unfortunate incident caught on camera and watched several times by Chef et al on repeat to scenes of great mirth,marginally escaped a visit to A & E and resulted in a surprised expression for the following few weeks due to a worrying eyebrow shortage..
We'd had a bit of an issue with overfilled bins which had caused the surplus to become a bit of problem.
Anyway I thought I'd shame our relatively new career porter into keeping the place ship shape so I spent all afternoon sweeping up his mess which had now spread over the empty keg area next to the bins.I even lined up all the empty kegs like smart little soldiers in their own regiments for each brewery, for easy collection.When I'd finished I thought I'd escort CKP up to the bin area to demonstrate how I'd like things to look,stressing the importance of keeping the area clean and tidy and taking care to point out that empty boxes and oil containers couldn't be flung untidily into the empty keg area.
I even demonstrated that if he filled the large empty plastic oil containers with boiling water for a few minutes they become nicely soft and pliable and could be satisfyingly flattened to save space in the bins.He watched diligently as I emptied out the water and beat the plastic into submission by jumping up and down on it with vigour.
Just to underline how serious this all was i finished off by telling him the state of the place was an absolute disgrace.
I stood back to view his reaction and was a tad surprised by the response:
'Yes I know it was,you've done a good job ..I'm PROUD of you.'
It took a minute or so for me to process this information.
If I wasn't finding his reaction so bloody funny I could have decked him.
When I recounted the story later to Chef he shook his head.
'Look you're wasting your time trying to use reverse psychology on that one,theres a reason why he's a Career Kitchen Porter.Hasn't he told you about the time he had an interview at Tesco?'
'No what happened?'
'He spent the night before on the drink with his brother,fell asleep on the sofa,at which point the brother drew specs on his face with a felt tip pen.Next morning he slept in and was almost late for the interview.'
'Did he not get the job then?'
'Hardly.He only noticed the Harry Potter glasses after he got home.'
All of the above of course would be highly amusing were it not for the fact that the individual in question is fifty three years old...