There was a table of four diners booked in yesterday lunchtime.
When the order was checked on in the kitchen it was noted that only one of the four was having a starter.
This is rude on two levels:
1.our aim being to extract as much cash as possible from you in order to increase our average spend per head,thus ultimately improving our GP,we would consider it far more polite if the whole table were to partake of a starter.
2.It takes a certain type of person to sit and eat a starter whilst the rest of the table sit patiently and watch, waiting for them to finish.
Most diners placed in this position will cancel when they realise they are the only taker.
When the starter was cleared,news filtered back to the kitchen that Table 3 would like a 'break' before the main courses were sent,thus extending the remaining threes wait for food even longer.
This always goes down well in the kitchen.
The thing is when a starter is cleared,your main course isn't going to appear immediately anyway.So any request for a break generally signifies a longer wait then the kitchen wants you to have, i.e they will have put your main course on to cook to coincide with starters being finished,factoring in a short break. Any request for a longer *rest* and all may not be as jolly as usual in the kitchen.
Increasingly,it became obvious that the lone starter fellow was in fact self appointed spokesperson for the table.
As I walked past he nodded at me and curtly pronounced 'we'll have the main courses now'.
Will you indeed.
Note the absence of a small but particularly important pleasantry.
When the bill was presented,the four were asked if everything was OK for them.
Spokespersons wife made the 'Comme Ci, Comme Ca'(sorry about the lack of a cedilla,must find out how to do that)hand movement along with that screwed up face action that signifies all is not well.
'Oh' I say 'what was the problem?'
'Well,it was OK..but don't you think its a very limited menu?'
I wanted to ask them why they'd chosen the least adventurous items on the menu ie 3 fish and chips and 1 sausage and mash,instead I went into the standard response: local ingredients,small menu, freshly cooked etc,I wont bore you with the full details, I'm sure you get the gist.
Then I say:
'Out of interest,what sort of things would you have liked to see on the menu?'
Self appointed spokespersons wife stuttered briefly before spokesperson interjected:
'That's not for us to say its for YOUR CHEF to decide'
'To be honest' said spokesperson 'we were very UNDERWHELMED, especially after seeing all those glowing reviews on TRIPADVISOR'
This is why Tripadvisor is wrong on so many levels.
Get a bad review and it may well put customers off.
Get a couple of good reviews and attract a clutch of new customers with expectations of a fine dining gourmet extravaganza who may well go away disappointed and disgruntled.
There is no winning.
I'm increasingly falling into Chefs viewpoint that its much better to keep a low profile.
'Don't worry' said spokesperson 'we will *try*you again..'
'Just so you know..' I say.. 'if you do visit again,the menu we have on today is representative both in quantity and style of what you may find if you visit again...'
That should do it.
I was still within earshot as they discussed the Tip.
'Well what shall we do about the tip?'
'10% is usual'
Spokesperson: 'Well I always give 5% towards service and 5% for the food.I don't have any issue at all with the service so we should leave 5%'
'OK so that's 2.50 each couple?'
Spokesperson:'Yes certainly no more than that.I mean I have been known to leave as much as 20% on occasion, if I'm very impressed, but no not today.Service yes,food,no...'
'OK 2.50 per couple it is'
'Yes that's more than generous..'
Reader,I had to restrain myself from going back over to the table and telling them that we might well live to fight another day without the flaming tip.
Instead I smiled my best winning smile and waved them out of the door before hurrying over to bash my head repeatedly against the daily changing blackboard menu..