Monday, 16 December 2013

The Christmas Rant.


There really has been a dearth of Christmas cheer this year.
I accept that that lots of people are forced into going out with colleagues/acquaintances that perhaps they wouldn't normally be inclined to socialise with but dear God why on earth it becomes acceptable to take out frustrations on service staff I have NO IDEA.
There must be some sort of pack mentality at play here..
The first of the biggish groups consisted of a party of females who had opted to choose from the regular menu.Usually this bodes well the implication being they're willing to try more than just the bog standard Christmas stuff.
We happened to have mallard on the menu.
When three of the group went ahead and ordered this particular menu item I was feeling slightly nervous.
Please note I am not a snob..but I would have put money on this lot not enjoying this particular dish.I thought I'd try to dissuade them and influence them towards something I knew they'd appreciate.Something inoffensive and slow cooked.
'The mallard is served pink-will that be ok for you'
I smiled and waited expectantly for the alternative orders to fly in..
'Well as long as it's not raw that's fine'
A determined lot.What else could I say other than 'listen mate, you're not going to like it'?
To which the only rational response could be 'well why's it on your menu then??'
I accepted defeat and hoped for the best.Though my heart sank as I just caught the comment 'I love crispy duck, I always order it at the Golden Dragon'
When the meals were sent initially all appeared to be well,there was much cooing and positive comments.
A couple of minutes later,predictably I was called over to the table.
There is a good and bad way to make a complaint,what follows should really be classified under 'Obnoxious complaint'
'This duck is DISGUSTING.I can't believe the Chef has sent this out of his kitchen.I eat out all the time and I've never been served something as disgraceful as this' (repeated stabbing of the poor breast with knife)
'Ok let me take that away for you,can I get you something else instead'
'We'll all have the braised beef'
The offending duck..

Note the absence of any P word but Eureka they'd identified something I knew they'd like.
You will know by now the score with the kitchen and the standard response'Tell them to get out' so I wont bother to go into any further details,suffice to say three braised beef were put on.Job done as far as I was concerned.
When the substitute dishes were ready I thought I'd better take them out myself in order to do a bit more grovelling just to avert any possible future TA assassination.
As I approached the table the ring leader raised her hand.
'We don't want that now its too late and we've waited too long,everyone else is nearly finished now'
'Well I'm very sorry about that but  we cant make the  food cook any quicker than it takes'
'Well its just NOT GOOD ENOUGH is it????'
She was shaking her head so vigorously in disgust that her Christmas Pudding earrings gave her the look of a living maraca, I momentarily became concerned that the make up she'd meticulously applied with a catapult a couple of hours earlier,might unwittingly slide off.
'Look I'm very sorry but I don't know what you expect me to say,you didn't enjoy your original choices so we've prepared alternatives as requested,which you are more than welcome to eat now,what more can i do?'
I stood there expectantly with the three plates of steaming food in my hands.
'No its too late,we expected to eat together.The service here is a disgrace'
'Have you eaten here before?'I enquired politely.
'What's that got to do with it??I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between a good and bad meal,I eat out all the time and to be perfectly honest we WONT BE BACK'
'Thats the truest thing she's said all night' said Chef as the three untouched meals were flung unceremoniously into the bin.
Sigh.
Next day we had 'whole plaice' on the menu.You'd think we'd have learned by now with all the problems we've had over the summer with 'whole' fish but we're nothing if not optimistic and doggedly determined to the last, so on it went.
A couple of old dears came in for a 'special Birthday lunch' which they hadn't bothered to book for so despite wanting 'your best table' ended up sitting on the small table in front of the bar,normally left for drinkers.
They both ordered the plaice.Seniors like fish.Not much chewing effort involved.
When I took the plates over there was a an audible gasp.
'My goodness they're big'
And no it wasn't my Christmas baubles they were referring to.
I have to admit they were more akin to small whales than your average bottom feeder,we'd already commented earlier on their gargantuan proportions and at only £1.20 per portion Chef was rubbing his hands with glee at the prospective excellent GP.
A couple of minutes later I heard a sharp 'pssst'.I jerked my head towards the perceived direction of the sound.There it went again,a definite and most determined psssssst.
Now normally this sort of attention seeking action gets my goat almost as much as the clowns who tap on the bar and then wonder why they get served last, but coming as it did from a couple of tweedy spinsters, I found it unexpectedly amusing and had to stifle an inadvertent giggle.
'Can you find me some mushy peas in the kitchen,dear, preferably marrowfat?'
'Im sorry we don't have peas on the menu today-I can get you a side order of vegetables if you like?'
'Only green veg Dear, anything else gives me terrible wind'
*Splutter*
And so it came to pass(joke) that the only green vegetable available in the kitchen being 'sprout' the plaice and chips had a somewhat untraditional if not Christmassy feel.
Much later,when I went over to clear the plates and on enquiring had enjoyed their meal I was unprepared for the content and ferocity of the response.
'Well no not really,I didn't expect the plaice to fill the whole plate..'
This is all wrong.How could you not expect the plaice to fill the whole farking plate?The plate could have been so tiny that even a very small fish would still have filled it.Good God shall we fish to order?Yes that's a bit too big, lets throw that one back and catch a smaller one..
Yes. The Plaice was too big yet you still went ahead and ordered a massive bowl of the least flatulent inducing vegetable known to man to accompany it...
*breathe*
Next day being Saturday and all indications being for the Shit to hit the proverbial fan we girded our loins and drafted in extra troops in the form of a particularly efficient seventeen year old who normally only works Sunday lunch.
At 11.20 we were nearly set up and planning to grab a quick coffee before opening when the phone rang.As I answered it I noticed in my peripheral vision a couple appear at the side of the bar.Sunday Girl was furiously hoovering and hadn't heard them approach.As she turned around she screamed very loudly as they unexpectedly appeared right in front of her face.
The couple were unruffled.
'Are you open?'
Yes, we always welcome customers with a spot of impromptu hoovering..
'No I'm sorry we aren't,we don't open until midday'
'Well, why is the door open?'
'The door isn't open, its locked'
'That door isn't locked we just came through it' (pointing at the back door)
'Ah yes thats the back door,thats the entrance over there'( pointing at the front door)
'Well if you're not open why is that door unlocked??'
I was quite pleased with her response.
'So that the staff can get in...'
The couple turned and headed towards the locked entrance.
'Ahem,excuse me.. that door is locked...'
This scenario kind of set the tone for the rest of lunch.
Within twenty minutes of opening all but two tables were taken and things were definitely hotting up in the kitchen.With every new check pinned on the board Chef was becoming increasingly annoyed,when the latest check to hit the board was welcomed with the comment 'this is effing ridiculous' I thought it was time to take diversionary action.With two tables remaining to order I thought I'd forewarn the punters that the kitchen was very busy therefore the food wouldn't be appearing any time soon.
Christmas Production line in full swing

I approached the first table.
Beam.
'Hello,just to let you know that the kitchen is very busy today,a lot of orders have just gone on therefore there is a bit of a wait for meals at the moment'
Second beam.
The younger of the two women scowled.
'WELL that doesn't make me feel very welcome at all in  your restaurant,I've just sat down and now you're telling me that I'm going to have to wait and I haven't even ordered any food yet'.
To say she  was seething would be putting it mildly.
'Well I'm really sorry about that but there is a wait,so rather than letting you go ahead and order, then having you sit and wait for longer than you expect I thought I'd make you aware of the delay in advance'
'But we've ordered drinks now..'
'Well if you prefer not to stay, I can cancel the drinks for you..'
'No we're here now and we're hungry so we will stay but I don't feel welcomed into your restaurant AT ALL..how long will the wait be?'
How long is a piece of string?I didn't dare ask the kitchen for an estimated delivery time so used the tried and tested 'Well that depends what you order' i.e. if you end up having to wait its your own fault because you ordered something which takes a while to cook.
Ha.
As it happens the other table yet to order were within earshot of the table which I'd just had the exchange with and they'd earwigged the whole debacle.Complainers usually have either a beneficial effect or an infectious effect,on this occasion the woman's demeanour and attitude went well in my favour.I was greeted with the level of warmth and affection usually only reserved for the return of a long lost relative..

'That's no problem AT ALL we're in no hurry, just sitting here enjoying our drinks and soaking up the lovely atmosphere'
Phew.
I did a quick circuit of the bar to assess the situation and noted further Christmas revellers streaming in through the front door ready to pounce on newly vacated tables.I clocked a couple being directed to the only table for two,a smallish one squished into a corner,one you don't dare book out, but reserve for walk ins. I thought I'd better get another order from a table of four who'd been sitting for a while.
'Is that all you have for vegetarians?'
Please God no.NOT that old chestnut again.I decided to take the direct approach.
'Yes I'm afraid vegetarian food isn't really our thing,though if you had let us know in advance that you were coming we would have offered an additional option.'
'Ok well I don't like your veggie option so can I have some of the bubble and squeak and some vegetables please but no pork chop on there because I'm a VEGETARIAN'
You don't say.
As I checked the order on and explained the lack of a pork chop I didn't dare ask for a veggie gravy due to the volume of checks already on the board and no craic being available in the kitchen at all.It was one of those rare occasions where the pressure out front was greater than that in the kitchen and being the perceptive fellow he is,Chef had cottoned on and clearly feeling sorry for me offered of his own free will to make a veggie gravy..!!
As I turned to leave with a new found spring in my step I was called back.
'Whilst you're here take that starter to table 3'
It was the difficult table.They'd ordered one starter between the four of them.
'Your kipper pate'
'No I ordered the Craster kipper'
'Yes the kipper pate,this is it'
'NO that's not what I ordered,I ordered the Craster Kipper'
'Yes the Craster kipper is in there, its been made into a pate'
Pointing directly into the pot.
'But that's not what I ordered'
'Well there's no whole kipper on the menu...would you like me to take this away?'
'NO LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS.. I'LL EAT IT'
There was a minor disturbance going on as I passed through the bar en route to the kitchen,the couple allocated the small table were now standing, the woman's voice raised.'Im not happy sitting there CANCEL my drinks' I could see Sunday Girl already on her way over with the trayed beverages.
'Would you like this table instead?' I overheard her say pointing at a just vacated bigger table.
'NO I'M NOT HAPPY now, Cancel the drinks, we're leaving'
The husband mouthed sorry as he scurried out of the door behind her.
'Drink?' said Sunday Girl as we both headed back to the bar where OCD Boy was busy issuing a Gift Voucher in the midst of the mayhem.
We both eyed the vodka and coke enviously as the Human Christmas Cracker extended back to the front door,resplendent in Festive sweaters, M & S carriers and the odd set of antlers.
'Next time you ask me to work a Saturday Biff,the answers's NO'
We plonked the drinks tray down and both rushed to the kitchen to answer the bell which was ringing increasingly impatiently now.
'How long is the wait time now?' I asked with further diners continuing to appear.
'Well with the grill temperature at around 4 degrees I'd say around teatime today,if not later' said Chef sarcastically.
I could see The Apprentice standing behind,red faced and holding a pan full of bacon topped with grill stones,no doubt the result of an over enthusiastic pan grab..
I made a sharp exit and headed back over to the bar.

(Have I ever mentioned I hear all these voices in my head?Every twitter user has a voice which I read their tweets in.In the same vein I hear music according to situations,the current situation had Queens 'Don't stop me now' along with the visuals from the fight scene in Shaun of the Dead playing on a constant loop in my head.I walk around to the pace of the music.I'm weird I know ....)

By now,OCD boy was bent over, pen in hand,meticulously filling out the Gift Voucher Record File in beautiful evenly spaced tiny writing.Oblivious to the impatient crowd eager to be served.A chap at the end of the bar called out for his bill.Without even raising his head from the beloved file which is indeed an exciting and irresistible prospect for someone with OCD,with all those little columns and lines to be completed with delightful accuracy and precision,he muttered:
'Just give us a minute mate..'
He was so engrossed he hadn't seen me approach.
'Forget the fucking calligraphy practice and get the bloody bill for the customer'
'Yes Biff'
I'd make a great ventriloquist.

As things calmed down, the kitchen caught up with orders and with 2pm and last orders about to pass,a couple entered the bar.
'Are we too late for food?'
Due to the hammering we'd had at lunchtime and with the afternoon chip restocking about to commence I thought I'd do the kitchen a favour and tell the latecomers they could only have starters or sandwiches.The last thing they would be wanting would be a chancer coming in and ordering a leisurely three course meal just after 2pm.
I imparted the bad news.
'So basically we're stuffed?'
'Well no,we can offer sandwiches any starter,a hot soup and chips,what were you wanting'
'WHAT I WANTED WAS LUNCH'
'Well as I said we are happy to offer any starter or sandwich as we have finished serving now'
I resisted the urge to tell him it wasn't compulsory to stay.
'I can't read those boards,the writing is terrible'
Following a prolonged description of the dishes on offer I managed to extricate an order and pass it to the kitchen.
What is wrong with people??' I later enquired of Chef.
'I wouldn't worry' he said thoughtfully 'its all relative innit?? The more people you do,the more fuckwittery you get,two weeks today it'll all be over..'
At least someone was happy..


Quite.






















Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Good, The Bad and Those beaten into submission by a bit of rare beef...

Serving the public is a constant battle of wits and a daily struggle to gain the upper hand
Its true that most people come out with the intention of enjoying themselves,but there's a minority who will do everything within their power to make life difficult for you,their sole purpose being to catch you out ..
I've mentioned before how regularly people arrive prior to opening time yet still expect you to open the door and serve them.If the front door is locked they will leave no stone unturned in their search for an alternative means of access.We even had a couple find their way around the back through a bolted gate and were on their way through the kitchen door before entanglement in the fly screen finally halted progress.
I have more conversations akin to a Fawlty Towers script than any normal exchange.
Anyway,just before 12 (thats opening time to me and you) there was a couple repeatedly trying the front door.Feeling in a generous mood and it being only a minute or so before 12,I thought I'd let them in.As I approached the door the woman tapped impatiently on the window and mouthed 'I can't get the door open'
I refrained from quipping 'thats because we're not open yet' and proceeded to open the door.
As I unlocked the first of the two mortice locks the woman impatiently rattled the handle again.
'I'm just unlocking the door' I shouted.
HINT:If anything's going to make me take my time,let me tell you *that* is. I've even known the lock to become 'stuck' on similar occasions..well you have to get your jollies some way.
As I pushed open the door I was greeted by a stern looking woman,hair as inflexible as her attitude,set in purple broccoli florets and held like concrete with a generous layer of Elnett. The apologetic looking husband was tagging along two paces behind,muttering sorry in her wake.
At this point I thought I'd offer her a bit of helpful information,for future reference if you get my drift.
'Just to let you know,we don't open until 12' I beamed my most welcoming smile just to deflect any possible forthcoming aggression.
'But its 12 now..''she frowned.
'Yes' I said slowly 'THATS why I'm opening the door...'
There was a faint whiff of Yardley Apple Blossom and mothball as she pushed past shaking her head in disgust as she went,intent on bagging the best table..


Last Saturday we had someone turn up one hour before opening and demanding access..She was tapping on the window and wouldn't take no for an answer 'But Ive a table booked...'
Yes Missus but you're table's not until 12.15...
As Chef says 'You wouldn't turn up at Marks and Spencer and expect them to open the doors an hour early would you??
Sigh.
Then you get the late comers.The ones who turn up way after you've finished service yet still demanding food and getting angry if they cant get it.
Last Sunday a couple arrived about 20 minutes after we'd finished Sunday lunch and with an elderly and infirm relative in tow.I don't know how old she was but I wouldn't have been surprised if theyd started the ascent from the car park at sunrise,just as Chef had put the roasts in the oven.OCD boy had already told them we'd finished serving,but I could see from my lookout point next to the coffee machine that they were giving it big lips..
I went over to see what the commotion was.
The 'son',probably in his Sixties and doing a good impression of an over enthusiastically Brylcremed son of Reg Varney,was dripping in gold chains,and wearing a three piece plaid check suit with overcoat on top.
Moderate Brylcreme usage
His companion was a heavily botoxed,bleached and beshoulderpadded 80's moll who would have made a great ventriloquist as her lips barely moved when she requested a straw for her large Chardonnay.
I felt a bit on edge.He had a bit of a look of a Kray twin or at least a distant cousin twice removed.He was as welcome Chez Nous as a drunk at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve..
And Reader,in addition,it was duly noted that the ear lobes were barely perceptible and obviously its a well known fact that convicted cons all have teensy weensy ear lobes.

(Ray Winstone voice):''S'cuse me darlin. ...can we get some food here..I don't care what it costs..?'

This came across as less of a question and more of a statement of fact.Not wanting any trouble I decided to incur the wrath of the kitchen and offer him a starter.This idea was not received with warmth...Lets be honest they didn't look like the sort who went out to nibble on parma ham and shrimps.
They looked more pie and mash sorts.
He pulled a thick wad of elasticbanded  tenners from his inside pocket, displacing a distasteful cloud of pocket fluff and stale crumbs,then waving the prized bundle a smidgeon too far within my personal space
That did it.
'Ok let me just check with the kitchen..'
'If you would please,I've just caught a plane and FIVE TAXIS to come here for lunch today'

'And you didn't think to ring ahead and book......??'

GULP.


*PLEASE CLICK ON THE BELOW LINK AND LEAVE PLAYING BEFORE PROCEEDING TO READ FURTHER.





I didn't bother hanging around to wait for the answer to this particularly ill conceived of questions,The bar fell eerily silent as the theme music from a famous spaghetti western came on the CD player and OCD boy grabbed the whisky bottles before scarpering into the cellar, a ball of tumbleweed hot on his heels...

I wouldn't say the air in the kitchen was blue, what with the weekly deep clean already being well underway but at least the London mafia were going to get their grub,which was the lesser of two evils as far as I was concerned.I grabbed a probe wipe and gave me ears a quick flick over and lived to fight another day.

I was relieved to impart the news that two roast beef dinners(seemingly the corpse wasn't eating but  being kept alive instead though an intravenous supply of Malibu and coke),would be shortly forthcoming,I triumphantly slid two fingers of red eye across the bar to Reggie as the pub miraculously sprang back to life.

Later,when the meals were sent and the required condiment 'red sauce' had been delivered,I hung around at a safe distance just to keep an eye out in case things kicked off,you never know what these London sorts keep under their overcoats...
Presently,I could see they were gingerly pushing the food around the plate..prodding the meat almost as if they expected a reaction..I sensed all was not well..they looked a bit..well... erm..frightened...
*Lightbulb moment*
Reader,in the excitement I had forgotten to warn them that the bloody(did you see what I did there?) beef was rare.


Northumbrian beef-fighting crime since 1842

OCD Boy was glancing furtively at me,nervously fiddling with the tea towel in his hands and polishing the same wine glass for the twentieth time,when simultaneously the three of them downed their drinks,slamming the empty glasses on the table in unsion. There was a collective sharp intake of breath as we all anticipated their next move.
Reggie did that weird and incredibly annoying air handwriting thing.The bill signal.
For some reason I expected a large gratuity due to the trouble we'd gone to and the previous glimpse of the available funds.
There was none forthcoming.


We waved them out the door to their sixth taxi of the day and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 Who'd have thunk it eh?Beaten into submission by a bit of rare beef.

Next time I might tell you about the ones who don't bother to turn up at all.....



Monday, 14 October 2013

Shit happens...

Ive often wondered why people think running a pub is easy.I mean, would I set myself up as a garage and start repairing cars? No.I wouldn't dream of it because I don't have the skills to do it.
People really have no idea whats involved in running a food business .
Take the other night for example,after a particularly busy service by around 10.30 Chef made an appearance in the bar to partake of a well earned refreshing beverage.There was a local couple at the bar who'd eaten,quite intelligent people with professional jobs.They chatted with Chef for a while,then the husband innocently and with obvious envy enquired:
'So...do you have you first pint around midday?'
It was clear the intention wasn't to cause offence,he was deadly serious,it was in fact a genuine enquiry..Chef looked slightly puzzled then laughed off the comment.
After they'd left we looked at each other. and shook our heads in amazement.
'He thinks I'm an effing alcofrolic'
'No he just has no idea what the job entails'
Similarly, another regular recently commented that despite not getting much time off at least we didn't 'start work till 12 midday'.
12 MIDDAY.
So all the menu miraculously preps itself and the pair of us swan in at opening time to plate the whole effing lot up.
And the other one that gets my goat are the jokers who fancy running a pub when they retire.
Like its some kind of hobby and a RETIREMENT PLAN.

Yes,there's a lot more than you would imagine involved in running a pub.
And if you fancy trying your hand at  this business be warned,there is nothing you can't be prepared to do.
Actually, there's way more than even I bargained for.
Last weekend was a typical example.
Late on Friday night just as things were quietening off I was called over by a smartly dressed couple.
'Excuse me,I'm afraid someone has messed in your toilet'
(Note the use of the word 'your' whenever theres a problem this word is deployed rather than 'the' it neatly transfers ownership and responsibility for any mess.)
'Messed' in itself is a fairly innocuous word but don't be fooled, its usually a euphemism for any manner of shit be it floor,seat or wall.With the exception being in the actual bowl itself.
I groaned.
There is no way you can ignore something like this especially when a customer has kindly drawn it to your attention.

Due to there being no other suitable delegate present for the job I knew Id have to commandeer the clean up operation myself.
I hurriedly assembled a crack unit for the mission consisting of meself and a particularly naive seventeen year old who'd only just learnt how to operate the Hoover.Not ideal and perhaps not the brightest decision I've ever made,but you know needs must and its always better to have a bit of back up in situations like this.

'Get the products' I ordered my wingman.
Grabbing a couple of sets of disposables from the kitchen I snapped the gloves onto my wrists with equal amounts of vigour and false bravado.
The Publicans Best Friend

'IM GOING IN'

The couple on the table next to the loo were fully aware of the mission and savouring every bit of Schadenfreude they could muster.

Following entry and with all guns blazing, my wingman was looking more like a Japanese fighter pilot,hands gripping the controls ,products for grim death,a stray tear silently trickling down her left cheek,with the odd involuntary stifled scream inadvertently escaping.
Once you've completed a job like this,you've no appetite for the rest of the day.Its just a shame I've usually consumed the whole days calorific intake by lunchtime otherwise I'd be onto a winner..

I wont go into exact details but suffice to say the public seem to have a whole different set of personal etiquette standards once they leave the comfort of their own homes.And clearly a segment of the population are in possession of the weirdest type of multi directional splatter backsides.
Its quite simple really: 
Sit down and remain seated for the whole performance.
WIPE.
FLUSH.

Come Saturday lunchtime we were pretty manic as usual, when The Blonde appeared,face distorted in pain and repeatedly uttering 'Nooo Nooooo'
'Whats happened now??' I say.
'I went to the loo and the cubicle door was open and there was an old lady,legs splayed wide and a younger one trying to sort her out...and Biff....her fanjo was on full view...''

Jesus,Mary and Joseph.. (anyone who knows me will realise this is a blasphemy i reserve for only very special occasions).

They were in the loo for ages.We were increasingly looking at each other ever more worriedly, imagining what kind of fall out would be left.
Much later the two emerged from the toilet and we all exhaled an audible sigh of relief.
The younger one came over to pay the bill.
'Im sorry...Im afraid we had a bit of a ...well a bit of a situation in there...and  im afraid, Ive well... Ive used your nice napkins... well... to clean up if you see what I mean..and rather than block up your toilet Ive put them in the bin...so you might want to go in and well empty the ...well the bin.... if you see what I mean ...'
Well you're not wrong there pet.
Curse the flaming day that I bought nice quilted expensive hand towels(Texicell) for wiping hands, a bit of a luxurious treat for me customers instead of the usual cheap tat you get in most pubs.And curse the flaming day someones beady eyes alighted on them and thought they'd do a far better job of wiping someones elderly arse than the bog paper especially provided for that exact task and of which there was on this occasion a plentiful supply available in the flaming toilet.
 'I told you it was a mistake to buy those' said Chef helpfully and with one eye ever on the GP..
On the bright side the bog wasn't blocked.
I smiled a fake smile and assured the woman that was fine.
The Blonde was visibly cringing at the thought of the shiny stainless steel bin crammed to overflowing with shit encrusted  hand towels,no doubt already beginning to hum in the warm damp conditions,a perfect environment for development of maximum pong in minimum time.
I looked at her beseechingly.
'Would you???Pleeease??...'
The Blonde raised her hand in a 'hold my wave' kinda way..
'Sorry Biff...but not in my job description.'
'But I cleaned up yesterday??? perleeeease???'
The Blonde folded her arms decisively, slowly raising one eyebrow in expectation.
I got the cue immediately.
'Bottle of Pinot?'
'Deal"
'I'll get the gloves'
Every time something like this happens I can't help but greet the person emerging from the zone with the question 'did you wash your hands?'
Without fail the reply always comes back  'NOOOOOO..'
I never learn.

As you all know shit happens and shits are much like buses, you wait for ages for one then three come by at the same time.In this event all in the space of one weekend...

By Sunday lunchtime I was kinda coasting,night off in sight when OCD boy burst into the kitchen.
'Biff someones having a stroke in the dining room'
WTF.
'Ring an ambulance'
When I got to the casualty he was indeed unconscious eyes lolling back,daughter panicking.
For the second time in as many weeks I relayed instructions from the emergency operator.
Thankfully he came round and was talking normally,but beginning to gag.
The dining room was packed with Sunday lunchers all troughing on appetising roast dinners,there was no doubt a spot of unscheduled barfing was definitely going to kill that ambience.
A woman from an adjacent table came to help and we managed to move him through the fire exit door to the garden for some air.He was sat in a garden chair when he started to vom into the bin liner(heavy duty) which Id intuitively grabbed from under the sink in the kitchen.
As we waited for emergency services he decided he needed the loo.
The son in law took him,he was looking a little better but still grey at the gills and a bit disorientated.
Shortly afterwards the ambulance arrived and the drama was over.
Im not sure what made me ask OCD boy to check out the mens bog but we knew there was a problem as soon as we heard the groan and accompanying 'OH NO'
He had chucked his lumps just outside the toilet door.
But Reader,the Gods were with me,what better candidate for an efficient clean up job than an individual who enjoys,nay is verily obsessed with that exact task?
With the mens netty being outside(primitive I know) and the pile of steaming vomit being between the back door to the pub and entrance to the loo,thankfully there was a drain located nearby which we were able the swill the detritus toward.I was of course on hand to offer helpful suggestions 'watch you don't stand in that bit' and a plentiful supply of bleach.
Kills all known germ DEAD.

Midway through the clean up Chef peered with half interest through the kitchen window and pondered aloud one of the few remaining unsolved mysteries of the universe:
'Why is there always diced carrot?'

So. Unless you fancy spending the whole of your weekend cleaning up a sea of human effluent I suggest you stick to the day job...


NOTE:The Sunday lunch barfer was found to be suffering a virus and suffered no long term ill effects.




Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Surprise Sprout




I was reading a menu the other day and for some reason the word 'reduction' leapt off the page and made me want to set my eyes on fire.When did it become normal to describe a sauce in this way?The reduction of a sauce is part of the method of cooking in order to achieve the end result.It may well be reduced but its still a bloody sauce.Reduction sounds more like some sort of corrective surgery not something that I want to eat.

I asked a Twitter what words on menus annoyed them....here's a few faves..


'Foam'
Does the word foam actually appear on peoples menus?Im not sure.. though this seems to be a generally despised word.As @corryvreckan says a foam is 'something my cats huff up on the carpet in the morning'.Similarly,from @thoughfox 'looks like someone spat on the plate' 
Personally foam always reminds me of that lump of frothed up morning cuckoo spit on the underside of a nettle.Do I want to eat it?Thanks but NO thanks.


'Homemade'
By its very definition,this is an item that is made in the HOME.Something your Auntie Margaret bakes on a Saturday afternoon in her floral tabard and serves on a doylied tiered china cake stand.Home made is NOT something made in a commercial kitchen.This is a contradiction in terms,if its homemade then you're not a professional chef.Trading Standards gonna have you for that one mate.

'On a bed of'
Please no...this one has been done to death,which leads me neatly onto the point,I WANT MY FOOD DEAD NOT tucked up in bed and SLEEPING ON MY PLATE!!!

'Tweeness on menus'
This is a bit of a niche market but keen menu spotters may have seen this creeping onto menus.Usually in 'gastropubs' and deployed to evoke the impression of a Dickensian era.For example: 'A little pot of .....' (this is a thinly veiled scam to get your GP up.I dont want a 'little pot of' I want a BIG POT Im hungry I came out to eat so FEED ME).Or 'Mr Peculiars very particular gentleman's relish' Items of this ilk.What this actually conjures up is an image of Ronnie Corbett skipping around in a pair of green tights in a musical montage on the Two Ronnies.

'Hand picked/pulled'
Referring to items of a fruit or vegetable nature that have no other way of being harvested.Is there another way to pick a strawberry? Haven't come across many prehencile farm workers in my time.
Yup,look at the trouble we went to to give you this,we picked it with our own fair HANDS just so you could eat it.

'Smears and paint brush marks'
This is where the meaning gets a bit clouded,though they're not words generally seen on menus there was an overwhelming hatred of these abominations.I was recently served a pudding with a brown paintbrush mark on the plate.The chocolate had hardened so I scraped it off with a knife and then scooped it up and ate it.A brown paintbrush mark is not attractive to look at and I cant eat a paintbrush mark without a lot of effort..so leave it out please.

'Two ways or three ways'
Putting aside the obvious connotations.Please stop showing off,can I have mine one way please? Preferably cooked and served on a plate so I can eat it??

I can barely bring myself to repeat this one.. 'Emotions of Pineapple' I am assured this has appeared on a menu.A pineapple is an inanimate object therefore it has no feelings.Is my pineapple sad or happy?? Get a grip please..

'deconstructing'
Then using a play on words to show how clever and innovative you are eg: 'Eton Tidy'.Cringe.
Er no...if it ain't broke don't fix it...

'Textures of'
This is nothing new,all dishes have different textures,and ALWAYS have done.Otherwise they would be a slurry.Which would be pointless as they'd be going in one end much the same as they exit.

'the surprise sprout'
Tweezering a single random ingredient onto a dish,especially one so tiny that Ive missed the flavour as it was in my gob so briefly.Then interpreting its meaning...Its neither 'playful','witty' nor 'flirtatious'.Though it could be a 'surprise' 'clever' or 'tight'. its just a plate of food,not a religious epiphany so stop trying to read it like a cup of bloody tea leaves and JUST EAT IT.
Three words: Emperors new clothes.

'Using the Chefs name to describe a dish'
As if he's doing you a favour in taking a break from sitting in the office googling his own name and has actually graced the kitchen with his presence in order to do you the service of cooking something.
He's a Chef FFS. its his job!!
If you must draw attention to the fact that you've actually made it why not use 'house' or the establishment name.
Anyway,do I really want to chow on *insert Chefs name* very own blood sausage?
Ideally i'd like an introduction and at least strike up a bit of a two way conversation first...


I HAVE STANDARDS Y'KNOW...


PS I recommend this type of menu,whats your fave?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Cold soup,two lost cardigans and a medical emergency..ABNORMAL SERVICE IS RESUMED..

I bet you're expecting me to regale you of countless disastrous holiday shenanigans.Well,weirdly August Bank Holiday passed moderately uneventfully this year,apart from a couple of minor disturbances..
We'd been very careful in compiling a menu that was easy to knock out quickly,just in the event of being hammered and ending up in the proverbial shite. Dishes like terrinesand pates(fridge-plate-serve) for example,are great for Bank Holidays..Things were going unnervingly well with none of the usual delays,we were fairly coasting along and congratulating ourselves on the intelligent menu choices made when a couple beckoned me over to their table.
'Excuse me,this soup is STONE COLD'
They were whispering politely, as if not to embarrass me with the revelation that we'd cocked up and served the farking soup cold.They were so discreet and mindful of not letting other diners know of the faux pas that I decided to just knock it off the bill and chalk it up to experience.
'Probably thought the microwave was on the blink' said Chef intuitively whilst shovelling yet more chips into the fryer.
The clue was in the word 'chilled'.Perhaps a bridge too far for the Bank Holiday traffic...

I even had time to exchange a few pleasantries with tables as they coughed up the cash.
Sometimes it kills people to be complimentary,finding fault seems to give a real sense of self importance.
'Did you enjoy everything?'
'Well, yes but the table is sticky'
'Oh Im sorry about that,they're waxed tables so they do feel slightly tacky but they are clean'
I beamed my best friendliest face.
The chap was determined,he spread his hands Max Bygraves style and then slowly placed them palm down on the table top,lifting and lowering them in slow motion,all the while glaring at me, mouth set in a grim straight line,
'You see,if you touch the table like this it is very sticky'
Altogether now:spread your fingers wide and lets all palm the table top

I wondered what would necessitate such a deliberate and repeated palming of the table top but decided not to go there.Best divert his attention elsewhere.
'But did you enjoy your meal?'
The wife shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
'Yes we did,it was the best pub food we've had for some time,wasn't it Bob?'
'Well...yes ....apart from the bones in my fish'
I glanced up at the blackboard,noting the menu item 'Whole lemon sole' the inference obviously being a fish with an intact backbone.
Unfortunately,I bit.
'Well the menu does say WHOLE lemon sole...'
'That may be,but the lighting in here is very poor,if you want to serve fish on the bone might I suggest that you need to improve the lighting,otherwise you need to be serving filleted fish only.'
Well.
That really got my goat.
Don't be fooled by these old fellows,you'd think they'd be absolute darlings to serve with their comfy all weather shoes, high waisted slacks and pastel coloured ganzies,but its all a vicious front in the interests of lulling you into a false sense of security,most of the buggers are absolute Rottweilers when it comes to making a complaint.
Try giving them a piece of meat that doesn't disintegrate the minute it touches their tongue,well, hell hath no fury than a man served a bit of well done(as requested) rump..
Which reminds me of the Danish chocolate biscuit cake incident and the 90 year old tooth which was unfortunately displaced.Shudder.
I digress,how the next sentence managed to take form and be voiced without common sense reeling it back in I have no idea...
'Well,that's what we are, a dingy pub with sticky tables..'
The woman's mouth fell open.
The complainer was rendered speechless.
I beamed again, which seemed to confuse the hell out of them.
Thankfully I was diverted from the table to take a telephone call.
It was a very softly spoken lady.
'Oh hello,I came for lunch recently and I'm afraid I may have left my cardigan on the back of the chair,do you have it?"
Methinks I need a bit of help here,the public are notoriously careless with their personal possessions,Id already picked up a camera(flicked through a selection of boring holiday snaps nothing of note to report...) and a jumper that morning alone.
'What colour is it please?'
'Its black'
'Well I cant see a black one here.'
'what about a turquoisey one?'
EH? I thought she said it was black..
'Its not a black one then?'
'Well it might be,I had two cardigans'
'You were wearing two cardigans??'
No not at the same time..Ive lost two cardigans'
'You left two cardigans here?'
"Well Im not sure,I was on holiday in Northumberland 4 weeks ago and Ive lost two cardigans so Im just ringing round to see if anyone has them'
WTF
"OK-Ill have a look in our lost property tomorrow and if you give a call back in a couple of days ill let you know if we have them,what brand were they by the way?'
Must be designer ones,or at least top end High Street, Hobbs or Jigsaw..something worth hanging on to..
'M & Co'
Gobsmacked.
 What the devil prompts someone to ring around every stopping off place on their hols in search of a couple of discarded Scottish thrift shop cardis. On a BANK HOLIDAY????'

I suppose the same motivation as prompts other individuals to sit at home in their armchairs and suddenly think 'I know Ill just crank up that well known on line review site this afternoon and write an unfavourable review on that lunch I can barely remember that we we had a couple of months ago..'
As happened to us recently.
Human nature is indeed baffling.
Encouragingly the only 'walk out' of the day left not due to a service failure or bad food but due to the lack of a printed menu:
'we wont be staying... we like a printed menu not reading from a blackboard..'
Yeah,we'll eat any old shite so long as its written down in black and white and on a sheet of paper..
Sigh.

We were relieved and looking forward to the end of the school hols when as Chef put it 'the natural order will be restored'
How wrong we were.
The first day back involved a particularly nasty exchange with a customer whose provisional booking had increased from 30 to '60 or 70' and could not accept that we could no longer accommodate.This saga in itself warrants a whole blog post and is still ongoing...suffice to say I've yet to come across a less flexible or demanding individual and she hasn't even been here yet.Correction.Will never come here..
Here's a taster: 'These people are from LONDON and are used to going wherever they like whenever they like and ordering whatever they please'
Well, with all due respect why don't they *insert blasphemous sweary word of choice*stay there..
*Stand by well known review site..*
Anyway in the afternoon,after a pleasantly busy lunchtime and having an hour or so break for the first time in a while,Chef strolled over to the window to admire the view..
'BIFF...QUICK look,is that one of the Old Duffers???'
I could sense the urgency in his voice as I ran over to the window.
'Bloody hell,NO its one of the Old Duffers...'
SCREAM.
There was a body lying in my herbaceous border,and it wasn't moving.Reader,I thought he had croaked amongst the begonias.
The Blonde later reported hearing the commotion from us upstairs and following the crashing as a small herd of elephants descended the stairs at speed, was prompted to look outside herself and was already with the casualty as I approached.
He was conscious but lying rigid on his side,arms pinned underneath his body as he'd fallen,head thankfully cushioned on the recently hoed soft soil which I'd conscientiously  watered that very morning.A particularly attractive and healthy looking red geranium appearing to be sprouting like a living fascinator from the top of his head.
Me:'Are you ok?' (urgently)
'Yes,yes just get me up'
Me:'No don't move him,he might be injured'
The Blonde(in a stage whisper) 'But his head's all wet and there's soil in his ear...'
Chef (bringing up the rear) 'Have you called an ambulance'
Me'No,Not yet'
Chef 'GO AND RING ONE'
I  was relieved to retreat inside to make the call leaving the other two to deal, I'm ok in a crisis but I'm not keen on medical emergencies.
The operator asked a few standard questions then told me to go out to the casualty.
By this time Chef had picked him up and was in the process of sitting him on a garden chair,all the while the fellow protesting vehemently his wish for no ambulance.
We compromised on fetching the son who lives in the village to escort him home.
Sprinting along to the house in question,by the time I arrived I was wheezing and puffing like a bloody steam train.
On my return,red faced and sweating like a big sweaty thing that sweats a lot and with the son in tow who was clearly considerably fitter than me it was duly noted Chef and the casualty were casually chatting on adjacent garden chairs. 
Chef viewed my dishevelled state with obvious amusement:
 'Why didn't you just pick up the car keys and drive down?'

 I resisted the obvious response...





















Sunday, 4 August 2013

YES,I KNOW THIS IS MY BUSINESS ..

Can it really be only the third week of the school hols?
We've been mobbed all week but for some reason that I cant for the life of me work out, there haven't been that many children around.Precious few plain pastas with grated cheddar and urgent bread baskets to silence the little darlings until their food arrives which when it does everyone gets uptight because they cant eat it because unsurprisingly they've stuffed themselves full of bread....

People are starting to accept this run of good weather as the norm,the feel good factor seems to have evaporated,as normal service has resumed,with the regular flow of disgruntled diners(albeit a minority) that have no intention of coming out and God forbid trying to enjoy themselves...

There were a couple of tricky examples the other lunchtime.
Asking for the 'printed menu' not the blackboard specials is usually a signal of impending doom,we listened increasingly disheartened as they slowly read each item out primary school style,with accompanying criticisms: 'Ham hock salad-that'll be really salty' 'Gazpacho-thats'll be cold and bland '..'rump steak,that'll be tough'
Eventually settling on plaice and chips and a BLT with chips.Soon after the meals were sent one of the woman gestured me over.
'I cant eat this there's too many bones'
I looked at the plaice,it had just been delivered an hour previously and we'd commented how fresh they were.I glanced up at the menu,momentarily thinking I'd omitted the word 'whole'.
BINGO.
'But it does say WHOLE plaice on the menu' I nodded and smiled encouragingly.
'Does it?Well whole often means its been filleted'..
EH??
'I cant eat it theres just too many bones-Ill have something else instead'
Yup and I guess you wont be paying for it despite the fact you ordered it and we cooked it and served it  as described on the menu ..Sigh...
'Ok what would you like instead?'
Oddly, she asked for the previously mentioned 'too salty' ham hock salad.
'You're having a laff' said Chef 'If there were no backbone it'd be an effing WORM not a fish' whilst furiously shovelling yet more chips into the fryer.

Much later,after they'd sat at the table for over two hours and finished every scrap of food on the plates,I enquired had they enjoyed their lunch.
'Well, to be honest no not really,we were a bit disappointed,none of the food was particularly special.'
None of the food was particularly special..how special can a BLT be???? I wondered if they were relatives of the previously reported Special Cheese sarnie couple..
The Cynical One caught my eye with an exaggerated eye roll.
'I wonder what special thing it is they wanted' I wondered wistfully.
'Well they did ask me if we had any jacket potatoes when they first came in..' replied the Cynical One.
We giggled.
'Lets hope they don't come back' I said through gritted teeth as we smiled and waved them out of the door.
That evening we were particularly rammed.
'Make sure you point out that the Plaice is whole' I said as the night kicked off.I knew Chef would have no further inclination to be cooking alternative meals.
Shortly after service began a walk in four arrived.Sadly with all tables being booked and rather than sending them away empty handed and with it being a particularly balmy evening,they were offered the option of dining outside,so long as they ordered promptly.
They accepted eagerly.
The woman ordered a rare steak.
Shortly after the steak was delivered,she appeared in the bar waving her steak knife around,I headed over and just caught the tale end of a conversation and the words 'THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS'
I followed her out to the garden.
"Is everything Ok'
'No I ordered a rare steak and this one is not rare but Im eating it anyway as I want to eat with my family and Im not prepared to wait for another to be cooked'
Dont be fooled,this is a euphemism for 'Im eating it but you wont be charging me for it as it isn't what I ordered'.
Nice try.
'Oh thats no problem we can cook you another'
'No,Im not prepared to wait this length of time again'
'Well it wont take long to do a rare steak,to be honest it was the other dishes ordered that took time to cook,let me get you another'
'Well THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS,look this isn't rare'
'Well, to be honest its harder..'
She interrupted her voice raised several pitches 'ITS HARDER???...BUT THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS'
'Yes I know' I grabbed the plate 'let me get you another steak'
She was grabbing at chips as I removed the plate from the setting.
Returning to the kitchen the rump steak was dissected disdainfully to reveal pleasingly rare flesh as ordered.

'So its blue steak she wants then?' said Chef angrily,looking every minute more like a Swan Vesta.
'Just show it to the pan and i'll take it back out to her' I said
Unfortunately sometimes people don't accept that if a steak isn't the same width all the way through it ain't going to be rare to the thinner outside edge as witnessed by this particular individual.
I returned to the table to have another bash at her.
'What I was trying to explain to you earlier was that with rump steak being uneven,unlike a fillet steak its more difficult to ensure the cut is perfectly rare throughout the steak.We did cut into your steak and it was quite rare,but we are cooking you another now,it'll be ready in a few minutes'
She kept repeating 'THIS IS YOR BUSINESS' as if I needed any further reminder of that painful fact.
A few minutes later the deed was done and I returned the substitute plate to the table.
'Would you like to cut into your steak...just to check its ok for you' I say Fawlty style.I smiled,complainers hate smiling it throws them completely.
She cut into the steak with vigour.It was completely raw and unrested.
Nice raw steak
'PERFECT'
Following main courses they ordered puddings and then coffees,finally requesting the bill over an hour later.
Posh Boy,being unaware of the earlier 'rumpus' (did you see what I did there??) presented the bill and enquired politely did they enjoy everything.
'Well it was OK, but we were told we had to sit OUTSIDE in the garden and ITS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH IS IT? AFTER ALL THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS..'
I recounted the tale later to Chef.
'Well I've told you before about frogmarching people out to the garden and forcing them to order food at gunpoint..' said Chef...
We sniggered.
Next time I'm just going to tell the feckers we're full...
















Sunday, 28 July 2013

BUMJAZZLE ME....

This morning I happened to notice a bit of a strange comment on a post I wrote here yonks ago.
At first glance I thought it was written by a interweb pervert (note the 'I love the sound of the custard powder' comment) hoping for a bit of an intimate one on one conversation with me about me bum 'ole.
As it transpires its an actual genuine offer.
An invitation to appear on National telly to talk about me bad ass.
Who'd have thought it?Me and me bum on National telly...me and me bum in lights....I can see a sparkling future for me and me bum...
I quickly searched on line to book meself in for an urgent Bumjazzle.
Hold on a sec.
In point of fact its actually Chef's Ass they're interested in,mine never having felt the benefit of this particular affliction. So I thought I'd better pitch the idea to himself,maybe I could still grab a little of the limelight in an 'Im going places, wanna come along for the ride ??' kinda way.
Unfortunately this involved a reading of the original post and the resultant bombshell that his ass was already all over the internet was not received with warmth.
There followed an expression of mild disinterest,the well known *what have you been up to now* face and an exaggerated Cheffy eye roll.
In any event, I do like to keep a low profile and in light of my previous foray into the world of radio and the subsequent shocking discovery that I sound like I've inhaled a whole tank of helium,its probably for the best.
So.
All you Cheffy lot out there now have the opportunity of your first foot on the ladder to telly chefdom.
PaulW@Outlineproductions.co.uk would LOVE to hear from you.
Yup, me and me ass are staying under wraps.

GO ON,BUMJAZZLE ME!!!!











Monday, 17 June 2013

When is a rump not a rump??

Theres been an amusing turn of events.
Tw*tadvisor have informed us that we're to receive a Certificate of Excellence! Could it be something to do with us being Numero Uno of Numero Uno outlets in the village d'you think???
Uncannily there's also been an unnerving clutch of complimentary reports so I'm steeling myself for the stinker which must surely come soon..
The finer weather seems to have lifted everyone's mood somewhat,we've had a steady flow of tourists who've helped to swell the regular numbers and most have been surprisingly pleasant.
Well most..
We had a Yorkshire family who cannily came for lunch the other day with the ulterior motive of checking out the menu prior to booking in for an evening meal.You will know that no self respecting Yorkshireman parts with his cash on a blind booking without checking out the compatibility of the menu a.to his taste and b.to his purse.
Having partaken of a couple of cheese sarnies the booking 'proper' was made for the following evening.A bit like the Queens official and unofficial birthday celebrations.
As they were seated the elder of the two gents scanned the blackboard menu,his eyes narrowing as he squinted to gain a better view.
'There's no chicken on there'
'Yes that's right'
'But there was chicken yesterday..'
'Our menu changes daily,so no we have no chicken on the menu today'
At this revelation he effected an exaggerated loud intake of breath whilst simultaneously shaking his head in disapproval.
I ignored this display and continued with the drinks order.
In due course the order was taken.


Presently,as I attempted to deliver Sirs well done fillet,and before the plate had touched cloth so to speak, the fellow raised his hand and said:
'No that's not mine'
I was aware that he'd ordered a WD fillet so this kind of threw me momentarily.
'Your WD fillet Sir?'
'Thats a rump-I ordered fillet'
'Yes that is fillet ,WD as requested'
I placed the plate in front of him.
'No thats not fillet its not the right shape,its definitely a rump'
'Im sorry but it is a fillet,WD as requested'
'I KNOW what a fillet looks like,I saw one served here yesterday-its the wrong shape,that's definitely not fillet'
Hmm.
I attempted a refutal of his claim.
'Well actually not all fillets are exactly the same shape,we buy ours from a small local butcher not a catering butcher,so not all are uniform in size,the size of the fillet will depend on the size of the beast..they are sold by weight not shape...accordingly the bigger the beast the wider and thinner the cut will be'
'Im not paying 23 notes for fillet when it looks like rump'
I reached over to take the plate away.
'OK i can see that you're not happy-can I get you something else instead??'
This individual was now displaying advanced characteristics of Small Dog syndrome,he was like a bloody terrier with his teeth between the bit.
Don't mess with m'food..

He grabbed the plate as I attempted to remove it.
'Leave that where it is,I AM HAPPY I will know immediately I cut into this if its fillet....'
Good grief.
I overheard his daughter trying to reason with him
'Dad what you're looking for is the texture and taste not the shape..'
He chuntered on throughout the course of the meal on the lines of 'yes it is tender but it doesn't look like a fillet' with regular reports of course filtering back to the kitchen.
Chef was not amused.
In actual fact the thinnest fillet had been selected due to the required cooking being Well Done.Whats the point in wasting a nice thick one ideal for rare cooking when the final result will be exactly the same?
In usual style Chef helpfully advised telling the fecker to 'get out' then compromised on 'tell him to STFU or call Trading Standards in and let them sort it out..'
When I went to clear the plates I noticed that Sirs plate had been completely cleared.
'Did you enjoy that?'
He begrudgingly muttered something on the lines of 'it was tender but it didn't look like a fillet'
I sighed and conceded defeat.
There was no gratuity,but this may not have been a reflection on the food,only the mindset and generosity of the customer.

Synchronistically,there was another steak incident on Friday night.
Hearing the ktichen bell ringing frantically signifiying an order was ready to be sent I presented myself for duty.
'Table 8,One rump,one pork' said Chef in monotone.
'Table 8 already have their meal' I said
'No they don't,thats their food there under the lights ' said Chef.
I was fully aware that Table 8 were already troughing on their meals as I'd just taken them a couple of top up drinks.
I stood still taking stock, scanning the checks and wondering if Chef had finally lost the plot and his supreme grip on proceedings.
I dashed out to have a quick look at Table 8-they were indeed troughing furiously.
I returned to the kitchen to impart the bad news,perish the thought that Chef had cooked duplicate meals on a very busy night.
But alas,this wasn't the case,his reputation remained intact.
At this point The Blonde appeared,head in hands.
'Ive taken Table 10's food to Table 8..they were having the same meals...'
'I thought Table 8 got their food quickly ' I said helpfully.
At this point Chef interjected;
'Well not quite the same meals...Table 8 were meant to have rump steak,Table 10 ordered fillet..'
I wouldn't say the air  in the kitchen was blue at this point ,but I did have an overwhelming urge to grab the anti bac spray and and a bit of blue roll and give my ears a quick disinfection..
Later,as I cleared the plates from Table 8 the guy on the receiving end of the fillet posing as rump,was glassy eyed.
'That was wonderful,the best rump steak I've ever tasted,thankyou so much..'
He was gazing up at me in adoration,I thought he was going to have a When Harry met Sally moment.This was not helped by the knowledge he then imparted that his father had owned the pub in the 70's and he was so pleased to see it was in good hands and the ensuing mental image I had of the father whom Id been told many times before had a predilection for shagging the waitresses over the hot cupboard after service and had regularly burnt his old leather shoes in the fire when things had got tough over the winter months.Oh and the famous catch line:
'Money for old rope old boy..money for old rope..'
Which was ironic considering he lasted eighteen months before going bankrupt..
All of which of course the son will have been blissfully unaware..
'Well' said Chef 'Isn't that great,he's going to be back next week with a minibus full, all ordering rumps and being woefully disappointed when they don't live up to the fillet..'
Sigh.
The Blonde reappeared looking distraught.
'I feel terrible..I never make mistakes...'
This is the girl who starts each shift by briefing her fellow workers with the line:
'Listen up you lot...there ain't gonna be no detrimental TA reviews on my watch..'
Chef was uncharacteristically sympathetic.
'Dont be silly...everyone makes makes mistakes..'
'Really?' said the Blonde with incredulity,mouth agape in disbelief.
'Yes' Chef continued 'even Me.....the biggest mistake I ever made was employing you..'
'Nice try' said the Blonde 'but you didn't employ me-Biff did.And I know exactly why she employed me..'
'Why's that then?' said Chef.

'Because she liked my Peter Pan collar...' said the Blonde.
This is indeed a TRUE FACT...


The deal clinching Peter Pan collar.












Friday, 31 May 2013

PLEASE NOTE OUR AIM IS TO FLOG YOU AS MUCH AS WE CAN-NOT TO PREVENT YOU FROM SITTING DOWN..

Sorry that pushchairs/children seem to be a recurring theme,but we've had another situation which has resulted in the introduction of a 'Pushchair Policy',or to be more precise a pushchair ban.
During the week we'd a family with a baby booked in for dinner.Now usually parents bringing very young children tend to extend a bit of consideration to other diners and book early doors ie coming under the category teatime trade.This lot managed to book themselves in at the prime slot at 8pm.As you know an 8pm dining slot is the most coveted and prized by the majority of diners.
When they arrived it was noted immediately that the infant was proudly displayed in a trophy pushchair and heading fast for entry.The Blonde attempted to deflect access suggesting that the carriagework and wheel arrangement be left in the porch and the chair bit be brought to the table and placed on a chair.The parents were pretty dammed determined and having none of it,finally playing their ace card the cheap Health and Safety trick,affirming it wouldn't  be safe for Junior to sit in an unsecured car seat placed precariously on a dining chair.Yeah well you will all know the speed a souped up dining chair can reach these days..
The dining table was pulled out towards  the centre of the room and the carriage parked sideways next to Mother,wheels extending out ideally providing an handy trip hazard for passing customers and staff alike.
The relocation of the table also providing a very slim passage through which to pass between the adjacent table which happened to be sited directly underneath the blackboard displaying tonights menu.This had the unfortunate result that any more senior person wishing to read the blackboard and needing to be closer to such, was channelled in front of the poor diners on Table One trying valiantly to trough on their meals whilst a random procession of assorted of Marksies slacks were ramrodded at the end of their table.
It was awful.
To add insult to injury the infant was held by the mother throughout the course of the meal with the trophy pushchair remaining annoyingly vacant.
Any booking bringing babies is now being informed prior to arrival that we welcome children but unfortunately don't have space for pushchairs.
Perhaps we should focus more on our primary purpose i.e.  the sale of intoxicating liquor with on occasion squiffiness being achieved and the suitability of this as an ideal environment for the child element.Yes, we are definitely not a creche..

Last Friday night ones patience was tried to the hilt.
There were a couple of children in the party,aged around 5-7years old.The elder of the two banged her fists on the table and started chanting 'I want food'
The parents tried to ignore the display but made no attempt to restrain or discourage this behaviour.It was becoming a tad noisy so I approached to secure the order.'In and out' was the phrase at the forefront of my mind.
Predictably they asked for the Kiddies Menu.Once the shock and disappointment at the lack of a Chicken Nugget was grasped,I suggested that Chef might make up some batter and do the little darlings a couple of small portions of battered cod with chips.I was feeling particularly generous as they were the first booking in and I though best get them through with as little fuss as possible and vacate the table in time for the later booking that we'd already taken in anticipation of an early exit.
In due course the meals were ready and I took them proudly out to the table,what a treat for them a nice piece of fresh battered cod with homemade chips.
As I placed the childrens meals down the older and more boisterous of the two announced in a much louder voice than befitted her very diminutive stature :
'That doesn't look like fish Mam.. Im not eating that..'
There then followed an uncomfortable few minutes whilst the parents tried to extract a polite pleasantry from their little angel on the lines of:
'What do you say to the lady???'
The child folded her arms with intent,the intent clearly being not to eat the meal,nor to exchange any pleasantry,polite or no.
'Probably expected fish fingers' sighed the Blonde wistfully.
I placed a familiar bottle of Heinz ketchup on the table and decided to leave them to it.
As it happened when I returned to clear the table both fish and chip suppers had been completely cleared.
Aha.
'Did you enjoy that?' I was unable to disguise my self satisfied tone.
In front of my eyes the angelic looking 7 year adopted the hardened manner of a forty five year old market trader.
'AYE, its was all right, but it wasn't proper fish'
'The ungrateful little shit' said Chef.
One can just imagine the havoc that individual might wreak once achieving adulthood.

And so on to the next instalment of Bank Holiday Capers.
The first table in were already queuing orderly outside prior to doors opening.
Once seated and having secured a prompt order prior to mayhem being unleashed I happened to earwig the conversation.
'Yes I'm surprised its not busy,I would have thought it would be on a Bank Holiday'
Did they not notice they were the first customers through the door??One wonders if they think we keep a rowdy crowd waiting in the wings from the night before-dont they realise someone has to be first??

With many diners having had the foresight to ring ahead and secure a table prior to arrival,within forty five minutes of opening we'd serendipidiously turned away in excess of forty would be diners.Including a party of twelve,two tables of eight and a six.Turning up with twelve people on a regular day without a booking never mind a Bank Holiday is optimistic to say the least.How many pubs actually have a table that accommodates twelve without rearranging the furniture, as it were?
The leader of one of the parties of eight ignored our advice and proceeded to make a full reconnaissance of the pub in search of a table that we'd already explained didn't exist.Spotting a vacant table for six he pointed over triumphantly 'what about there?'
'Im sorry that table is already booked'
The clue was in the reserved sign placed prominently in the centre of the table.
The woman behind him interjected:
'but we've just picked the children up from camp and they're really hungry..'
And your point is? Give away a table reserved for a booking arriving in 20 minutes and try to explain to them that the children were about to eat their arms....
PLEASE NOTE:WE WANT YOUR CASH IF WE HAD SPACE TO ACCOMMODATE YOU WE WOULD SIT YOU DOWN AND HELP RELIEVE YOU OF AS MUCH CASH AS POSSIBLE.
Presently,a booking for two arrived with an extra guest.As the table which we'd set aside was quite snug it wasn't possible to add an extra person so we fiddled around with the table plan and managed to swap them to a bigger table.
The woman didn't like the table.
'Can we wait 20 minutes for a better table?'
This is puzzling.
How the feck did she know there would be a better table available in 20 minutes? Glancing around it was obvious no one would be vacating any time soon and no other tables were free other than their originally allocated table.
'Can't we just pull up an extra chair on our original table?'
Hmmm.... its a tricky one...what does one advise these poor people to do?????
"im sorry the table just isn't big enough for three'
She then played what she thought was her trump card.
'Well in that case we'll just pay for our drinks and leave'
It was pretty obvious that this was a threat designed to effect the required relocation to a table of her own choice.Despite there being none available.
Im not sure the Blondes 'ok' response was entirely expected,with the son having already chosen what he wanted to eat and much harrumping following.
The wife stood her ground,refusing to back down so the husband resignedly approached the bar to settle the drinks bill.
I feigned no knowledge of the table shenanigans.
'Oh' I said innocently 'did you not like our menu??'
'No,my wife didn't like the table...so we're leaving'
His doleful look expressing more than words could,the anticipation of a further search at another venue on a Bank Holiday Monday, for an elusive table that probably didn't exist.


During the height of the rush I was called over to a table of four.
'Excuse me-this ketchup bottle is FULL and I cant get the ketchup out'
The Ketchup bottle was full.
I kid you not.
This is not a valid complaint.
I was momentarily floored.
In a moment of true inspiration I grabbed the Ketchup bottle,apologised and returned from the kitchen with a half empty one which pleasingly had a few snotty deposits around the rim.
They THANKED ME..

One wonders how these people manage to fend for themselves at home. .

Later in the day when things had quietened off a bit and Chef had lost the will to live,I was able to exchange a little idle chit chat with a couple from Derbyshire.

The wife was very gushing about everything, but the Blonde was not impressed:
'I mean I like to smile but  CHILL OUT woman,you're about to bust a blood vessel..'


Its always good to find out how your customers found their way to you so I enquired how they'd chanced by.
'We saw you in the Good Food Guide' said the wife.



'Oh' I say 'thats good to know'
'Yes' said the wife 'people are far more educated and discerning now about food,particularly places serving locally sourced food,we always refer to the Guide when travelling about the country'

'Yes' I say nodding in mutual respect and agreement 'TOTALLY..'
'Now what can I get for you???'
Then this:
'Well,I know its not on your menu but I really fancy some Scampi,do you by chance have any?'

*Cats bum face*



Tuesday, 14 May 2013

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO SHOW US THE CONTENTS OF YOUR WALLET BEFORE YOU ORDER...

      And so it came to pass,that the dawn of yet another Bank Holiday Monday broke bringing with it the unexpected bonus of wall to wall SUNSHINE and the resultant prospect of the inevitable arse ribbing to follow.
Ever prepared for battle, Chef girded his loins with some tasty but easy to plate up options designed to get him out of the shit, whilst yours truly fuelled up with a bit of sausage action in the form of full English and a mug of builders tea.
Surprisingly,despite the onslaught of hungry day trippers seeking out their first beer garden action of the season,in what may only be described as a rare but welcome fluke we managed to retain control ALL DAY,helped in no small part by the consideration of the diners who kindly booked and spread themselves conveniently out over the course of the afternoon.
There were a couple of minor glitches,one in the form of the the party of seven who managed to commandeer the last remaining table which somewhat inconveniently only seated six.As we all know seven into six don't go so helpfully I whipped a spare chair from an adjacent table and placed at the end of the table to accommodate the seventh guest.The extra chair now being sited in the main route through the dining area,a course of action I would not normally have taken and borne out of my uncommonly generous demeanour due to the fact that proceedings were going so swimmingly well,a decision which would later prove ill advised.
This was in fact a schoolboy error.Any waiter will know about checking distances between tables or to be precise spaces between chairs.You have no idea how far away from the table some diners like to pull out their chairs.Personally I cant see the attraction with eating ones food at arms length but back to back chairs and no space to pass through is an occupational hazard of the diligent waiter.Diners,however are completely oblivious to the problems this causes.Rarely will they tuck themselves neatly under the tables,preferring to be bumped and squeezed,but ever determined to hold their ground.
I digress,by my next foray from kitchen,plates in hand, The Seventh Guest was comfortably in situ at the table. We had no prior knowledge that Jabba the Hut was making a short promotional tour of provincial cinemas and would drop by for a spot of light lunch and barricading.
There was no point in asking that the chair be pushed in,the mass was filling the void completely.
Chef peered inquisitively through the regulation fire retardant door that delineates  Front of House from kitchen territory:
'I don't think have enough food for him'
'Her' I promptly corrected.
Joy.
There was now a no through route from kitchen to bar with plated food destined for that area travelling out via the dining room fire exit, and amusingly re-ntering via the front door.
Hey-ho,one could do with trimming off a few pounds..

Later in the day I encountered possibly the rudest individual yet to grace our humble hostelry.
Perhaps you would allow me to provide a little background information first..
There exists in nearby *small market town* an initiative to encourage shoppers to support small independent shops.To be precise the scheme involves a loyalty card through which local businesses can offer discounts or incentives to shoppers.A regular customer of ours approached us and asked if we would participate in the scheme as they were short of eating out venues and wanted to provide a good range of outlets to generate sales of the card.Being upstanding pillars of the community and recognising the value of supporting the local economy we agreed to get onboard.
 Chef however,had a much better idea to keep business in town:
'Why don't they just get rid of the parking charges'.
I keep telling him he should go into politics.
Anyhoo,back to the tale.
A couple approached the bar fairly late in the afternoon,just prior to last orders.The Cynical One politely enquired were they wanting to eat.
The tweed jacketed fellow stared blankly at her then with some force replied 'Yes'.The tone of his voice negating the necessity to tag 'of course' on to his reply.


Admittedly we are a food driven pub, but oddly we do on occasion manage to attract those of the 'drinking only' mindset.

'How many are you?'
Victor Meldrews brother frowned and channelling his very best Marcel Marceau looked pointedly behind himself and his wife,raised his eyebrows with contempt before replying brusquely 'two'.
To the inexperienced onlooker,the enquiry for the number of diners may have seemed pointless,but actually what a shame it would have been if the assumption had been made that the table was for two and then unbeknownst to ourselves he had proceeded to extract his elderly and infirm mother in law from  the car only to find there was in fact no room at the inn? and you know its not actually unheard of for a single individual to request a table prior to unloading the entire cast of 15 kids and Counting from the car.
As they were shown to the table,the blackboard menus were pointed out to-whit more raised eyebrows and muttering culminating in 'YES I CAN SEE'
Id forgotten about him until I was serving a nearby table and as I glanced over,I could see him sitting arms folded,brow furrowed with an uneaten bread and butter pudding sitting on the table directly in front of him.

'Is everything ok?'
'No-Im not enjoying this at all.The top is crunchy and its swimming in COLD CREAM'
This is a tricky one,did Sir expect the cream to be hot perhaps?
I looked down at the plate,there was no more than a smidgeon of cream,I would even go so far as to say the depth of cream was as shallow as a worms grave.
Best just accept defeat.
'Would you like me to get you something else instead?'
'NO- JUST GET ME THE BILL'
Shortly afterwards I was aware of a minor altercation at the bar.
As I approached I overheard The Cynical One say:
'No its not a discount'
I could see him clasping his *small market town* loyalty card.
'Is there a problem?'
'Yes,Im trying to use this card and the girl wont accept it'
'AH yes let me explain,our offer is a glass of house wine with your main course'
'but I didn't get a glass of house wine'
'Did you ask for one'
'No I had a J20,but i wasn't told I could have one'
'Did you mention you had a *small market town card*'
'No-but you should have asked me if I had one and told me what I could have'
And presumably run through any other discount cards and vouchers you might have collected just in case?Oh and what about American Express Sir ? That will do nicely and you can rack up some air miles at the same time..
*Breathe*
This is a typical shopping at the sale mentality:I don't really want it but Ill get it anyway coz its cheap/free.
Sigh.
'Would you like your free glass of wine now'
'NO ITS TOO LATE'
At this point I thought Id try and divert the conversation,focus on any positives,usually a winning smile confuses the hell out of complainers..
'But did you enjoy your meal??'( beaming and nodding encouragingly)
'It was all right.....It wasn't great'(with vigour)
The wife standing two paces behind displayed a vacant and despondent expression.
'Well Im very sorry but usually holders of the card mention they have one and then ask what offer we have'
'Well I'll know for next time then wont I?????? EXCEPT THERE WONT BE A NEXT TIME..!!'

Later when I repeated the conversation to the kitchen, Chef politely enquired:
'with respect to that last statement 'except there wont be a next time' I trust you got him to put that in writing...'




CUSTARD UPDATE
Readers of the previous post may be interested to learn that the Custard Woman paid us an unannounced visit yesterday to claim her gratis luncheon.Can you believe she viewed the pudding menu then asked for some custard,despite there being none on the menu??
This goes to show that there is no point in inviting disgruntled customers back for freebies,chances are if they haven't liked it the first time around,they're unlikely to enjoy a repeat performance.
Next time I'm going to follow Chefs recommended Modus Operandi:

'F**k off'
CLICK.


THE CHRISTMAS NIP

  You know what I’m unexpectedly missing in this weirdest of all runs up to Christmas? The drop ins from friends ,family, suppliers, custom...

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