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Monday, 28 March 2016


I'd kind of decided to bury the blogging hatchet partly because it seemed I was going over the same old ground all the time and secondly because certain regular players in this farce had suffered a dreadful personal tragedy which made me feel uncharacteristically guilty that I'd plastered their reputations all over the interweb for the entertainment and delectation of mortal strangers unbeknownst to themselves.
The unexpected upshot of this unfortunate turn of events was a disconcerting mellowing of the players in question to the point where I (oh fool that I am) even considered deleting the incriminating posts.The general consensus was that fate had dealt them such a blow that their petty complaints had been mightily knocked into the outer reaches of the atmosphere of insignificance.As witnessed by the penultimate visit when one of the pair of them found a foreign object in their cheese sarnie which looked like a flaming shard of beef bone from the stock pot.Under normal circumstances this would have been an incident equal to the profundity and enormity of Paradise Lost.With our new found mutual love and affection I naturally knocked the price of the sarnie from the bill and was grovelling profusely almost to the point of embarrassment,but no, she insisted on paying 'really its no problem at all' whilst beaming an almost heavenly countenance of serenity.
How the fuck a piece of beef bone can get into a cheese(sliced not grated-they haven't changed THAT much)is anyones guess.Foreign objects in food isn't what I'd call a regular occurrence,but in a busy kitchen(or even a quiet one-lets not be prejudice) on the odd occasion something CAN and will slip through the net.And as luck will have it,its ALWAYS in the meals of the people for whom its going to be a major and deal breaking catastrophe.Over the years Ive seen all sorts of things turn up on peoples plates,from food wrap to once, (cough) a slug: 'its ok madam its organic..' -a gratis bottle of pinot sorted that one out,(to be honest there's not that much that a gratis bottle of cheap plonk won't sort out),to the dreaded HAIR.
A hair in the food is the behemoth of foreign objects in peoples dinners.
Especially if its a CURLY one.
God help you if that ever happens.
The only way around this problem is to employ hirsutely challenged chefs which up until very lately was a directive which coincidentally we'd managed for the most part to achieve. 'oh no madam,that can't be from our kitchen.. our chefs are all bald'..
Do not,I repeat DO NOT underestimate the value of a bald chef.He is invaluable for bringing out front for display purposes to apologise for the rogue hair in your dinner in his fully polished glory.Its a sure fire way to take the wind out of the sails of even the most antagonistic of complainers.
I would even go so far as to suggest that if you don't have a bald chef you might be well advised to recruit one, or at least encourage an existing one to shave their head,just for emergencies.
I digress,this bit of bone was VICIOUS looking and big enough that I could still detect a bit of none marrow in the centre, and could have done untold damage had it lodged into the tonsils of the unfortunate recipient so I was breathing a HUGE sigh of relief that she hadn't kicked up a massive stink.
The ensuing kitchen investigation failed to establish how such an item could have made its way into the sarnie and ultimately resulted in the conclusion that 'it must have come out of the bread'.How a beef bone would be in a loaf of bread is also a mystery but in the absence of further evidence it's always a good call to deflect any blame.There is of course also the issue of foreign objects being planted in meals by the diners themselves which believe it or not does actually happen on the odd occasion.Though in this instance it being of no benefit to the consumer (she refused the freebie) it was deemed not to be the case.

Due to the above we were all becoming comfortably complacent about Saturday mornings and no longer anticipated the entrance of these two individuals with dread,in short the sight of them no longer sucked the very life force from us.
In fact we were beginning to think we quite liked them..

However,I now pronounce this golden age of mutual love and affection as OFFICIALLY over..last Saturday they were back on form and firing full throttle on all cylinders..

They'd had a short break 'a la mer du sud' which had obviously revived their spirits no end.Seated as usual on the small bar tables(round not square-duly noted on the order in case chef fell at the first hurdle and served the stuff on a square plate) and had brought along a couple of photo albums of their holibobs to show the other VERY nice Saturday morning regulars.
I must say I was strangely drawn to the photo albums(does anyone else still do these?)and wondering how they fared in a foreign land where everything is ..foreign...
Anyway,they ordered a crab bisque and a veggie sarnie which was a bit of a surprise and not their usual type of choice which I put down to their recent exotic foray.But hey, at least they'd upgraded from the usual sliced not grated cheese.
When the food arrived and with space on the table being at a premium due in no small part to the very hefty photo albums on display it was a bit tricky disembarking the various assorted plates carrying both soups and bread etc.I flinched as I walked away having managed with great difficulty to squeeze everything on to the table as I overheard them laughing sarcastically and make some not very funny quip about the tables being far too small for the type of food we were serving.
A bit later I noticed one of them get up and pile three logs on the fire.
This really gets my goat.
I have a well known one log rule.
There is nothing as attractive as an open fire especially to someone who doesn't have one of their own at home.They especially like to poke it and feed it relentlessly whilst I watch my hard earned cash blazing ferociously up the chimney.
These people are usually the sorts that order a lime and soda and sit with it for an hour.
To add insult too injury he then started off on one of his most favourite rants about how our fire 'doesn't throw off any heat' and how his fire at home is far superior due in no small part to the fact that he throws fucking trees on it every five minutes no doubt.
Which brings me to the  thing that gets me the most.. the ones who throw three logs on the fire then immediately exit the front door.
Presently I heard my name called.
'Biff,come and have a look at this'
I must have been wrong.. things were ok...they were wanting to engage with me over their holiday snaps.I headed over feigning interest.
The album was open at a page showing them seated at an alfresco table by the sea.The usual straw parasol overhead.I would go so far as to say they looked happy on the photo.
I smiled.
'Look at that bowl Biff,thats what you call a bowl of soup' *sarcastic laughter*
The 'bowl' of soup was a huge tureen more akin to a cauldron with a ladle in it.The pot was big enough to feed a family of five Billy Bunters who'd been dieting for a week.Next to the cauldron was a lone bowl..with Mr sat next to it beaming at the camera, a swarthy looking waiter only just in the frame, also beaming.
'That was for one Biff..ONE!!,thats what you call a bowl of soup..'
I squinted at the photo and wondered if the oversized bowl was merely an optical illusion,much like the massive jazz hands photos you often end up with when you take them on a mobile phone.
'Was it bouillabaisse ?' I asked with half interest.
This was met with an awkward silence and some rapid side to side eye movement..
Followed by:
'It was a fish soup'
I smirked.
It appeared that in addition to little grasp of the French language they also had very limited culinary knowledge..
There was no way that bloody pot was meant for one,no wonder the bloody waiter was grinning from ear to ear.
As I walked away,I admit, feeling ever so slightly smug about whole exchange, and comforted in the knowledge that  the landlord/customer balance of one upmanship was again weighted most definitely in the favour of the former.
Just as I was almost out of earshot I overheard the very nice Saturday morning regulars enquire how the Crab bisque was.
'Oh it was was nothing special..'
Nothing special crab bisque


PS.I have enough material to keep me going for the foreseeable future ...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sprout fest-a Christmas Rant

I managed to get myself into a long and protracted conversation argument this week with a complainer.
Christmas parties seem to be a bit of a thing of the past(mainly lack of corporate budgets)but fear not we still get our fair share of large groups out for a bit of a festive knees up.Usually friends or work colleagues who've decided to stump up the cash and pay for their own festive bash.
In keeping with the season we've had sprouts on the menu.
Sprouts seem to be one of those things that can inspire abject love or vehement hatred with no middle ground.Personally I'm in the positive camp.I encountered both camps the other night.
Early doors I was taking an order from a couple of Texans on a historical tour of Northumberland   their main object of desire being Hadrian's Wall. 'gee every thing's sooo cute'
I was in a bit of a hurry due to further tables arriving and wanting to get all orders in to the kitchen prior to the big party arriving.
Despite the blazing fire they were wrapped up as if a visit to the North Pole was on the cards.
'Are you ready to order?' (politely)
'Well ma'am I have a little question'
'Fire away' (ho ho)
'Well I'm interested in the hake dish but ma'am i see it comes with sprouts,now let me tell you that sprouts could be a deal breaker, yes ma'am sprouts don't do it for me...At all..'
There then followed a detailed account of a meal he'd eaten three years ago at a pub in the Cotswolds and how he'd tried sprouts as he'd never had them before and how they'd had a strange and unwelcome effect on him and how he didn't want to repeat that experience again.
No Ma'am.
I've abbreviated here but the story went on for at least ten minutes during which time he hardly came up for air and there was NO opportunity to interrupt and cut him short.
By the end of it I was having difficulty concentrating on what he was saying due to the mental list of all the other jobs that I had neatly lined up in my mind and increasing by the minute.
Its worth pointing out at this stage that we all have our own rock collection but before you get yours out and show it to someone its probably a good idea to check first of all that they want to see it...
Finally a chance presented itself and I jumped in quickly
'We can do the hake without the sprouts for you if you like'
Thank God we got that one sorted.
The sprout issue raised its head again at the next table I cleared.
As I enquired to the enjoyment of the meal a lady on a table of six who happened also to have the hake dish responded in the affirmative but with the comment that the dish would be vastly improved with the addition of sprouts.I looked a bit confused as the dish was in fact served with sprouts as advertised ( albeit creamed sprouts) so I alluded to this and was told that delicious though it was,a couple of additional WHOLE sprouts would have lifted the dish even more.
As I gathered up the last of the plates and was having a bit of banter but not really listening with any great interest the sprout lover dropped the bombshell that she'd eaten 82 sprouts last Christmas.
I laughed and replied 'Oh over the course of Christmas week?'
'No all on Christmas Day..'
This momentarily stopped me in my tracks.I had no relevant response.Im not sure if it was more extraordinary that she'd eaten such a vast quantity of sprouts and had survived or that she'd actually counted them.
I had no other comeback than a feeble
'Yes I had 16 guests for dinner and had catered sprouts for all and as it happened none of them liked them so we had a bit of a laugh about what if sprouts were currency and I ended up trading all my other veg for sprouts.'
Bloody Hell.
I wasn't sure if it was a wind up(see what I did there?) but her husband was sitting with raised eyebrows and confirmed the whole story to be true.
I avoided the obvious question about side effects but on recounting the episode later to the kitchen Chef was quick to quip 'remind me to steer well clear of their house next Christmas Day I don't want to get caught in the fall out'
Farts are funny, but farts can also in fact be fatal,which of course led on to the story of the man who was done for manslaughter after inadvertently bumping off his wife in a Dutch Oven. Apparently he'd cooked and eaten a cauliflower curry before retiring to bed and when the inevitable happened and he pulled the covers over his wife's head(for a laugh) she was killed instantly in the fug. Ironically being an ex nurse with medical training she had been the perpetrator of her own downfall as had made the bed up hospital style and it had formed an air tight cover.
This story has done the rounds of the kitchen so many times I have no idea if any part of it is rooted in truth.It is always received with great mirth.Every time.
There is no doubt about it there's nowt as funny as a fart.

The raucous laughter emanating from the kitchen was drowned out by the arrival of the large group. The trouble with large groups is that they always contain one or two for whom going out to eat is  a once a year occasion so they're not used to it,don't particularly enjoy it and as a result often end up behaving badly.
I recognised a few of them as regular diners so wasn't anticipating any problems.The meal passed off uneventfully,plates were cleared and plenty of drinks consumed so when a certain individual waved me over I made a quick inuitive grab for a check pad before heading in her direction,foolishly thinking they all wanted a top up.
How wrong I was.
The rest of the party were chatting loudly..enjoying themselves.She began to speak but couldn't make herself heard over the din so gestured me over to the bar.
'I just wanted to tell you that my meal was very dry,very dry indeed'
Now at this stage in the game its pretty pointless bringing up the deficiencies in an already cleared meal especially when puddings have already been served.
Unless you're wanting a reduction.
'Oh I'm really sorry about that,I wish you had mentioned earlier then I could have given you an alternative'
Stock answer.
'Yes it was very, very dry indeed.As if it had been sitting around on the bench all day waiting for us to arrive'
Erm not getting away with that Missus.
'Well, Im very sorry you didn't enjoy it but I can assure you that everything is cooked to order,your meal was plated up in front of me just prior to it being served'
*Further beam*
'Well that meal was very, very dry'
(Yes I get the picture the meal was dry.)
'In fact it was so dry the plate was 'rimmed' at the edge '
Eh? What does rimmed mean?
'Im really sorry you didn't enjoy it but it was all freshly cooked,if i'd known at the time I could have exchanged the meal or brought more sauce for you'
'And the sprouts were like bullets..'
Good God,she likes soggy sprouts.
A sniper firing sprout bullets was a sudden and wildly appealing mental picture especially if he was a good enough shot to take this particular individual out..
I apologised again hoping the conversation had now reached a close.
'Yes that meal was very very dry indeed,when I cook it at home...'
This is the phrase which always pushes me over the edge,and the one which always solicits this response from chef :
'Well if they want it the way they cook it a home why don't they effing stay at home and cook it themselves'
Instead I conceded defeat,I could see a backlog of drinks orders out of the corner of my eye so I decided to cut my losses the conversation was going absolutely nowhere:
'Ill take your meal off the bill for you'

At this point bearing in mind all the extra grief one encounters over the Christmas period lets just take time out to appreciate fully this generous gratuity left by a table x 6 

So that was that for the rest of the evening until they did that other hugely frustrating thing thats normally restricted to walking groups only.
This is annoying on several fronts.
1.Invariably they form a queue which is unpleasant for other diners as it snakes past their tables
2.It takes one member of staff out of the team and clogs them up at the till for ages whilst each person hunts around for the correct money
3.It uses up all your precious change
4.Nobody tips
Lastly and most importantly:
5.There are always items outstanding at the end which nobody claims to have consumed nor want to pay for which always causes a rumpus and leaves a sour taste in the mouths of all parties.

Anyway,I'd taken the trouble to point out the aforementioned complainant with all members of staff as the last thing I wanted was a further heated exchange after I'd promised her a freebie.I was within earshot at the coffee machine as she approached the till to pay.As directed she was informed that her meal was complimentary so only pudding and drinks to pay for.
I have no idea of the motivation in her reaction..maybe because her friends had overheard she wasn't being charged.. who knows.
She steamed over to me minding my own business at the coffee machine and demanded to pay....repeatedly.
'I didn't want a free meal I was only pointing out that the meal was dry to HELP YOU in case you served it someone else'
She made the complaint to HELP ME.This is a new one.
'Look as I said earlier I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it and thats why Ive given you your meal free of charge'
'But I didn't want it free..I wanted to pay...I was only trying to help you in case you served it to someone else'
WT actual F?
'But we did serve it to someone else,in fact we served it to all of your party,all of whom have eaten it,many have complimented us on how nice it was,but I've taken on board your comments and thats why I've given you yours complimentary'
'But the meal was very, very dry indeed'
Back to square one again.
'Yes thats why yours is no charge'
Simple language might be the way forward.
'But i want to pay i was only pointing out to you it was very very dry'
Deep breath.
'There is no charge for your meal'
'But thats not fair on everyone else if they have to pay and I don't'
'Yes it is fair because they haven't complained, because they enjoyed it..there is no charge for yours'
I walked away from the till.

But reader,that wasn't the end of it.
After paying the amount required I observed her again heading in my direction.
Please brace yourselves for the next instalment:
'I feel really bad for not paying,can I buy you a drink please?'
Perhaps this is a consideration which should have surely been made earlier in the game..
Reader,do you really think I got where I am today by letting people such as this off the hook with an easy Get out of Gaol Free card?
Erm no...
'Thankyou but no,I don't drink whilst I'm working'
I had to have a quick glance in the shiny stainless steel of the coffee machine which id been furiously polishing just to check my nose was still the same size after that one..

Usual nose size


Friday, 16 October 2015

The Best Day of My Life

Last Sunday was meant to be the best day of my life.
But you know the best laid plans and all that.. so unusual though it is for me to plan ahead I admit I was a bit gutted when my anticipation of the wondrous day ahead screeched to a grinding halt before I'd even arisen from my pit.
'You know how today was meant to be the best day of your life?' said Chef.
'Well I'd erase that thought quick smart..have you seen how many people are booked in for today??'
Its not normal for Chef to adopt the typical moody chef pose but on this occasion his arms were definitely well and truly folded.
'Its always busy on a Sunday'
'Is there nobody in this joint with half a brain..??'
The melodramatic shake of the head(in slow motion for added gravitas)had me up and dressed in record time and minus my usual Sunday morning poached eggs on toast..
It didn't take much of a shufty at the bookings diary for me to realise that there weren't enough tables never mind chairs, for the amount of diners who were expecting to pile in between 12 and 2.30 for a nice leisurely roast dinner.
I stared at the barely legible list with the usual outrageous and impossibly spelt name combinations which always raise a few titters,then pointlessly rewrote it in the hope that a tidier page(I remember a colleague once telling me to straighten out my desk and his quote 'a tidy desk -a tidy mind')would throw any light on a possible solution.Having conclusively disproved this theory, I spent the next half hour walking around with my sheet of paper trying to allocate tables which clearly didn't collate to the size combinations which were booked.
For the following hour I dragged tables around on my Bill in the hope I could invent a table configuration with enough spaces to fit the  heaving masses in.
When I'd finished it looked like someone had planned the whole thing out on a computer programme to fit the maximum amount of tables in the minimum amount of space.I'd even revisited  a couple of round bar tables which had spent the best part of the summer outside in the garden.
Despite rebooking some of the twelve o clock tables at 1.15pm(SCREAM) I was still three tables short.By 1.30 there was going to be a vast crowd corralled in our very small bar area,make no mistake.
I was nearly crying.
At ten past nine the phone rang.
My heart leapt,theres always a few cancellations on  Sunday,, usually people with illnesses (hangovers who can't quite pull themselves around) etc. etc..
'Ah Hello,we have a table for eight booked at 1.15 today..'
(With MASSIVE anticipation) 'yes?..."
'Well I'm really sorry.. but'
Hallelujah,joy.Hurrah...what absolute ecstasy and delight..There is a GOD!!
Then this:
'Im afraid we are NOW TEN -can we increase the table size please?'
Now in actual fact I could easily have stuck a place setting on either end of the table but desperate times call for desperate measures and I'm nothing if not able to think on me feet.
(Nonchalantly) 'Let me just check the diary for you..'
Holds phone away from head dramatically(even though there was nobody there to see) and leaving a pause just long enough to make them slightly worried I couldn't fit them in .
I haz the upper hand..
'Well we are very busy today,Im afraid I can't fit you in at the time you are booked but if you would like to bring an extra couple of guests I could slot you in earlier, say at 12, but I'm afraid I would need the table back at 1.30pm?'
Please go for it.
'That would be marvellous yes we'll be there at 12.Thankyou so much'
'No.. Thankyou' (said with no irony whatsoever.)
In one swoop I'd freed up the ridiculously busy middle section of EIGHT guests AND obtained a free table by 1.30.
You know whats thats called?
Which of course lightened the load but I was still 2 tables short.I scanned the list again.I recognised one of the names.Someone I knew quite well ,I wondered if it would be rude to ring and ask if they would mind coming slightly later.
I decided to err on the side of caution( I am a coward)  so sent a text asking if they would mind coming half an hour later as we were struggling for tables.Its always best to tell the truth when you've cocked up.People are more sympathetic towards you if you admit you're human..
Two minutes later a text came through with an answer in the affirmative and I was wondering if this might actually turn out to be the best day of my life after all.
Now all I had to do was sit back and wait for the cancellation which must surely come soon..
But none came...
At 11.45 I opened the doors early in the hope that some of the lurkers in the garden would order early and eat up fast.
I ushered the first diners in and showed them to their table.It was a three which I'd squashed into the corner with all three chairs facing the wall.People don't like looking at walls they like to face out into the room so that they can neb other people.
I could see them shuffling about the table as I pointed out the blackboard so we could get things moving.
'Can we sit at that table over there,this ones a bit squashed for us?'
'I'm afraid that table is for four and as you are only three and we are very full today(understatement of the year)I'm afraid thats not possible'
The look on their faces made me think again.
'Let me just check the diary...'
I sidled despondently off to look at the bookings list for the umpteenth time to see if  could find any further inspiration,by this stage I could practically recite the whole thing off by heart.
I had a brainwave.
'Well if you would like to sit at that other table i could let you sit there but I'm afraid its booked at 1.30 so I would need the table back then'
'We'll take it'
Another table free by 1.30 and a free table for three for emergencies.Things were beginning to look up no end.
By now checks were piling up in the kitchen as all staff had been drilled in not hanging about with the early tables and with every visit I was dropping subtle reminders as I checked orders on:
'Not to put pressure on.. but just to let you know I need that table back in an hour'
Quick exit.
There wasn't much craic going in the kitchen so in the midst of plating up a sweep of multiple tables I was moderately surprised when chef enquired as to what colour knickers I was wearing.
Now you would not believe the conversations that go on in this place but this was high on the scale of unusual,probably surpassing an X Files level of strange.
'What colour..knickers?'
'Polka dot black and white..'
'Thought so..theres a split in the backside of your jeans'
Which effected a inconvenient five minute absence whilst I rifled the drawer for a pair of navy blue ones.
To add to the pain we happened to have two new members of staff who were working their inaugural Sunday shift, so rather than have them slow us down by having to explain everything I made an executive decision to keep one each with myself and the redhead and just use as an extra pair of hands to take out food,clear plates etc.
At 1.30 there was a fair old crowd in the bar but thankfully people were eating up quick so Id managed to seat both the tables of six which id thought would be a problem.
But Sod was appearing to be enjoying the hospitality Chez Biff that afternoon and was presently watching a table of four which we expected to be well gone by now but were still hanging around the table ordering more flaming coffees whilst the next lot were becoming increasingly fidgety due to there being no space to sit in the bar area whilst they awaited their table.
I bought them a round of drinks which seemed to placate them and had a quick scoot round to see if anyone else was likely to shift soon.
Just then I spotted Newperson1 who had become inadvertently unhitched from Waggontrain Moi on my last trip to the kitchen,heading out to a table of six with a couple of puddings.As he approached the table he turned around with a look of sheer terror,spotted me and mouthed 'what are these?'
I glanced down at the plates and without a word swooped one out of his left hand leaving him the gingerbread (which I hissed in  his ear through gritted teeth and without moving my lips) to deliver to the table.
I returned the plate to the kitchen flinging it and myself(dramatically) back on the bench from whence it had came.
'He tried to pass the fucking garnish for the smoked haddock fishcakes off as a pudding..'
Not a pudding

Just then New person 1 reappeared.
'Listen..Please don't ever take plates out without knowing what they are'
'But it looked like a pudding ....there was orange on it..'
'You've missed the point..You went to a table of six people without knowing what you had in your hands so how on earth were you going to deliver it?We're not in the habit of playing pudding roulette..''
I felt a bit bad after that outburst so told him to make sure he stuck with me and he'd be ok.
As I was clearing one of the larger tables of the day, a woman decided to waylay me with small talk.This is another intervention by Sod, people always want you to chat when you're overly busy whereas if you're quiet they can barely give you the time of day,never mind notice your outfit.
'I really like your top,where did you get it'
I had six heavy dinner plates in my hands and eager to speed on with the clearing process may have been unnecessarily short..:
'I've no idea..'
Next visit back she persisted.
'Was it from a local shop? Its lovely..'
'Em no i usually shop on line,not much time off you see..'
'I really would like to know where its from..'
There really was no stopping this one.
'Ill find out for you..'
As I picked up the next plates from the pass I remembered the top.
'Can you have a quick look at the label in my top please?I need to know where its from'
Chef looked bit confused but not as confused as I had with HIS earlier wardrobe query.
'Just do it please Ill explain later..'
With the plates served and the wardrobe query satisfied I began to feel like we were regaining control.
But I'd forgotten about the four who were still sat at the bar.
As I headed over there to apologise ANOTHER woman sidetracked me to ask where I'd got my top from..

I'm currently checking Twitadvisor.every day awaiting the backlash of the day to erupt.
But up to now ...zilch.
Which makes me wonder if Sod is still in residence here.

PS.There is a moral to this story.Never wear a nice top on busy days.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Dirty dish water makes a decent stock

How can I put this without offending a sizeable and ever increasing section of the population..?
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.
But no.
'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'
'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'
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..
I digress.
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...



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