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Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Firestarter

The Old Duffers were in again the other lunchtime.
The craic(not a euphemism) was quite literally arse-clenching.
Foggy rambled on in intimate detail for at least an hour on the intricacies of his bowel action,well to be frank the problem being the apparent drought of the required regular evacuation.
Compo and Clegg shifted increasingly uneasily in their seats,the ales going down with distinct lack of usual verve due to the unwelcome graphic conversation.
At several points both politely tried to shift the topic of discussion:
'my tomato skins are particularly thick this year, due to slow growth, a direct result of the lack of sunshine I imagine....'
But Foggy stuck to his subject with dogged determination,at regular intervals the other two contributing only the odd 'mmhmmm.....mmhmm...'
Finally the protracted and predominantly one sided conversation culminated in the comment:
'After all these years spent sitting on the toilet,I've finally come to realise that its just not worth it'

There was a momentary silence..followed by a thoughtful slurp of their pints,whilst the other two no doubt pondered what momentous event had eventually prompted Foggys' 'lightbulb' moment..
'Whys that?'said Clegg..
'Well,years ago someone told me that I had to go every day,so every day I've sat straining(for the most part unproductively I might add..),now all I do is eat a couple of bananas and go every other day..'

The accompanying shake of his head conveyed the depth of his regret at a lifetime of futile,fruitless pot sitting.
I wonder what age it is you get to when all the usual conversational propriety goes out of the window and what's really important becomes crystal clear?
I suppose that's the age that time itself becomes the valuable commodity,hence the regret.
As Chef says 'plenty of time to to sleep when you die...'

It was the last of the summer Bank Holidays today,the weather provided its usual support,though I did tweet we had some new and exceptionally large garden parasols which would brave the storm.
As usual we managed to attract a couple of 'miserables'.
Not long after opening The Blonde swept through the kitchen door with usual gusto:
'The bloke on table 4 is an absolute f***wit,I swear Biff,he IS ONLY HERE TO COMPLAIN'
'Just like you're sole purpose is to take that door off its hinges..'said Chef without even glancing up from the stove...
'Its OK Ill go out and check on him' I say placatingly...
I approached the table wearing my best winning smile,cloth draped over my arm Fawlty style.
The sight of someone older in authority seems to solicit a more reserved response from even the most angry of customers.
'Is everything allright for you there?'
'Yes.....yes i suppose so'
'Are you sure?' (Come on give me your best shot)
'Well actually my wife's duck is overcooked and the skin is dried to a crisp'
I glanced at the lovely Confit duck leg on the plate,skin perfectly crisp and golden,pink tender flesh falling apart beneath and and wondered how the fark it could be improved by serving rare.
Duck legs in the process of being ruined due to overcooking

'Oh,the duck leg is cooked very slowly(as specified on the menu) for around four hours,in goose fat,its not like duck breast which can be served medium rare,were we to serve duck leg rare I'm afraid it would be ..well...chewy..'
'Well,if you say so'
'I do'
There was no gratuity.

Later,I managed to set someone's coat on fire.
We were just coming to the end of the Bank Holiday arse-ribbing extended eating hours, when the Blonde burst through the kitchen door yet again..
(Good prioritisation)
Reader,you may remember my previous form when it comes to items of a combustible nature..
These are Jubilee Beacons not the actual fire

The sight of two foot high flames licking up from behind the wooden bench was fairly dramatic in a provincial pub setting,though not of Towering Inferno proportions.I managed to heroically beat them down with my trusty carrying cloth in an efficient fly swatting motion. It was quite satisfying and I was quite pleased with myself until the unmistakeable chemical smell of burning rubber wafted up ones nostrils and the customer whose initial demeanour had been one of relief visibly changed:
'Its really dangerous to have candles on a windowsill,yes on a table, but on a windowsill?? NO!'
As if to underline the absurdity of it all she picked up the offending candle and placed it decisively in the centre of the table.
'There' Glaring at me.
What do you say to someone whose coat is a shrivelled blackened mess,still smouldering with fine will-o-the-wisp tendrils of stinking smoke wafting upwards?
I offered to replace the coat..

'Did you check the brand?' said the Cynical One
'I mean are we talking Primani here or Barbour???'
'I'm not didn't look expensive...'
'Biff, wake up and smell the coffee,you're far too trusting, go and ask to see the label so you know what you're dealing with,tell them its like for like..'
'I don't think they'll rip me off,they come in quite often..'
'Well,don't say I didn't warn you..' The Cynical One raised her eyebrows in disbelief and walked off.I could hear her tut tutting as she went.
 Chef is yet to be informed of the compensation payment..

Much later, one of me favourite regulars,the local fire chief, popped in for a pint.He had already been furnished with full details(no doubt embellished) of the fire incident by the time I appeared at the bar.
'There's only two things I wouldn't entertain in my house' he said solemnly..
(why is everyone shaking their head at me today???)
'What's that then' I say
'Candles and  tumble dryers.. responsible for the majority of domestic fires''

Well that's it then,its the washing line all the way from now on....

In other news, remember yonks ago I was receiving a spate of incorrectly addressed post?
Well today this arrived..

Containing this...
From MPW perhaps?

Someone's playing funny buggers again...

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Special Cheese Sarnie

We gazed out into the garden in the pre service calm before the storm, parasols gently fluttering in the pleasant sirroco blowing warmth into our faces,colourful blooms dancing in the sunlight.
At last a perfect summers day.
Despite this there was a feeling of impending doom.
'I think we're going to get arse-rodded today..'said the Blonde wistfully...
Which proved nothing if not an accurate prediction.
By the height of the lunchtime rush hour with only one remaining table free in the garden,a table of six eating inside decided they would 'go outside to eat their starters but would we keep their table reserved indoors in case they wanted to come back in'
This is a new phenomena.
People expecting to reserve multiple tables.
A similar thing happened on the following evening.I was approached by a lady whom Id noticed sitting near the bar area earlier on.
'Excuse me that couple have sat at MY table '(pointing at a table in the middle of the dining area)
This puzzled me somewhat,I could see that the lady's companion remained comfortably seated at the table near the bar area.
'But don't you already have a table?' I say
'Yes we're sitting at a table over there but when we have our food we want to move over to that table,I already asked the girl on the bar if that was ok and she said it was'
'Yes but at that time there was no one sitting at that table,now there is so unfortunately you wont be able to sit there'
'Cant you move them?? It is my Birthday and I WANT to sit there..'
She was very persistent,right up to my face, almost threatening.
As it happens the couple who were sitting at the table normally like to sit over near the bar area but because all tables were taken and the bar being exceptionally busy they had taken a table further away from the bar than they would normally have liked.
'I'm afraid I cant ask someone to stand just so you can enjoy the benefit of two tables'
(Obviously two tables of two = four bums on seats not two..sigh..its a no brainer isn't it?)
I might have to start wrapping up pressies for the ones who want to play musical chairs...

We've also experienced another strange phenomena recently which is occurring with increasing regularity.
People reserving tables but omitting to mention that are bringing along X amount of children.
Children are people too,they also require seats so if you don't book for them don't be disgruntled when we don't have any chairs left or a big enough table to sit you at.Unless you expect them to stand of course..
A large party experienced the repercussions of this error last Sunday when they had to sit out in the garden on a particularly blustery day after reserving a table for six then arriving with 5 additionals..

Please brace yourselves.We've had a serious complaint.Via e-mail no less:

My wife and I called in this evening for a drink and a sandwich having
> heard good things about your food.
(I bet your friends ordered a meal..)
> We ordered the Lake District cheddar and pickle sandwich each. I was told
> it came with a salad garnish.
(Please note the clue here is in the word garnish..)
> How disappointed we were when they arrived. Salad garnish consisted of a
> few very bitter leaves. No tomato, cucumber etc.
(Sorry about that,admittedly once outside the protection of the M25 one does expect to be provided with tomato,cucumber,red onion,grated carrot and perhaps even a segment of orange or two...)
> The main problem however, was the sandwich itself.
> The cheese and pickle did taste fine,(hoorah!) but the fact that the cheese was
> grated,(que??) and that it was served in a cheap white burger type bun was
> dreadful.
(oh dear,unforgivable..)
> All together it made it feel like we were in a roadside cafe, not
> somewhere we thought would provide us with a special experience.
(though the cheese and chutney sarnie is undoubtedly tasty, I'm struggling to come to terms with it being a special I missing something??..anyone??)
> Very disappointing indeed.

Here's my response:

I'm very sorry that you did not enjoy your experience.
Our sandwiches are all served with a simple salad garnish with french
dressing,our staff are advised to explain that the garnish consists of mixed
leaves only(Mache,curly endive,red chard and oak leaf lettuce).Im very sorry that
in your case this didnt happen.
The bread which we serve our sandwiches on is sourced from a Master baker,
 who delivers direct to us every morning.I can assure you this
bread is not cheap,the bun is a large Scotch Bap and not a burger bun.We did
trial two bakeries before deciding on this particular baker after canvassing
feedback from lunchtime diners.
Im not sure why the cheese being grated was a problem,this is more time
consuming for us,but we are of the opinion that this provides better
presentation than simply slicing the cheese.
We believe that at £4.50 our cheddar and chutney sandwich offers excellent
value for money,especially given the amount of good quality cheese and
homemade chutney.
We could buy cheaper but all the ingredients we use are carefully sourced,we
avoid mass produced products,most of our menu is sourced within
Northumberland as we are committed to supporting the local economy and
keeping food miles down.
Im really upset to think that you felt you were seated at a roadside cafe
this is really not the impression we strive to give,we spend a lot of time
and expense on creating what we hope is a pleasant environment both within
the pub and in the garden.
Had we known you were dissatisfied we would have been more than happy to
provide an alternative menu item which might have been more to your
taste.Perhaps a starter if you were looking for something light but a bit
more special than a simple sandwich?
If you would like to visit us again I would be happy to fulfil this offer.
Lastly I would like to thank you for taking time to write as we do
appreciate feedback from our customers,if you would like to discuss the cheese sandwich further
please dont hesitate to contact me.

I asked Chef to proof read the e-mail before I sent it.
He scratched his chin thoughtfully.
'Can I make a suggestion?'
Self:'Yes of course'
'Why don't you just send '---- off, you t---s'

That's why I'm in charge of PR and not him....

PS I haven't heard anything back yet. Perhaps my last paragraph may have got their backs up...


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