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Friday, 6 March 2015

Three scabby cabbages,a leek trench and a phantom deposit..

The Inspector from a well known guide book has been doing the rounds.
Personally,I can't think of a more sure fire way to take the pleasure out of eating than being forced to trough down three courses lunch and dinner every single day of your working life.A bit like the plethora of tragic and quite relentless food blogs which I've been reading lately which reference eating out 'for the sole purposes of the blog' not for the enjoyment of the experience.What a joyless task.
I digress,Inspectors are usually relatively easy to spot,not that a lone wolf diner is unusual, but one that's  neither suited and booted nor wearing zip off waterproof slacks and walking boots kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.Yes,I won't lie, a lone wolf garbed smart casual, drinking fizzy water and ordering three courses at lunchtime,sets alarm bells ringing.A pork and black pudding terrine,pheasant casserole and fulfilling his remit by cramming in a creme caramel(I could see the relief on his face when his beady eyes alighted on a stodge free option)FYI.
Oh yes and I've yet to meet an Inspector who doesn't finish off the meal with an espresso.
They don't disclose their identity until after they've finished and paid for their meal,at which point this one was well and truly rumbled by all of us.I played the game by gauging the brown nosing just right,enough to feign convincing surprise when he did his big reveal in the hand over of the business card at the end.
At this point they always ask for a chat with the chef.I usually keep them out front so that chef can beat a hasty retreat when the next check comes on but this chap was quite amiable,much nicer than the very first Inspector that ever came here who had the cheek to tell us that the best thing about the place was the food.
'well we should be ok then as thats what you're here to inspect..'
We were fortunate to get into the guide after that little outburst.
Anyway,on this occasion I thought I'd treat him to a little kitchen tour and a quick conversation.I even attempted to grill him him on a couple of possible local places that he might or might not have been to but no joy on that front,he wasn't giving anything away.He seemed to be at ease though and was quite chatty,things were going swimmingly until he happened to glance out of the kitchen window and notice the ravaged looking raised beds in the back garden.
'Oh I see you grow your own veg..'
'Oh yes..yes we.. do yes..' I agreed. I could just make out the whites of Chefs eyes growing ever larger and his mouth falling open over the shoulder and out of eyeshot of the Inspector as I ushered him out of the kitchen before he could attempt a closer inspection.

Abundant supply of home grown veg.
Three scabby cabbages and a leek trench does not a year round vegetable supply make ..
'I can't believe you told him that' said Chef 'FFS I'm not Jesus Bloody Christ..'
Which was clearly a covert reference to the seven loaves and fishes.
'I didn't tell him anything,he came here to inspect, which he did,he made an assumption based on his inspection which I for one am not about to correct him on'
Though admittedly I could have a red face when the guide eventually comes out and a stream of punters asking for tours of the vegetable plot arrives.

Later that day we received puzzling phone call.
I was relayed a rather garbled message about someone who had called to complain that she'd paid a deposit for a meal which she'd eaten the previous week,but on the occasion of the visit the pre paid deposit had not been deducted from the bill therefore resulting in her being overcharged to the tune of fifty quid.
This was baffling on three fronts:

1.It's not normal procedure for us to take a deposit.

2.On the rare occasion a deposit would be taken e.g. for a large private party,this would be noted in both the diary and on a deposit summary designed for that exact purpose and which on this occasion there was no record whatsoever.

3.Why did the person in question make no mention of having paid a deposit when attending for the meal`?

The situation required further investigation.
The table had been a party of six,had attended on a lunchtime and coincidentally despite it being two weeks previously I remembered the woman as she'd had what I'd diplomatically(yes I can do that) call an attitude.I remembered her complaining bitterly about the cold despite it being February and with both fires blazing and the central heating cranked up to full.I did try reminding her it was February.
I took a deep breath and gave her a quick ring to establish where,when and by whom the deposit was taken.
The story went that the person who took the booking 'asked her for a deposit' when she called to book and she'd paid by credit card over the phone.
Despite the fact that the person who'd taken the booking had meticulously noted the request for a particular table there was no mention of a deposit in the diary.
I attempted to explain that we don't take deposits for regular table bookings but this was falling on deaf ears.Finally I managed to ascertain that she had a credit card receipt from a month prior to the date of the meal.I took down a note of the date of the 'deposit' and told her I'd ring her back after Id investigated further and spoken to the member of staff who'd taken the booking and was currently away on holiday but back on Monday..
In the interim we went through all the credit card receipts for the day of the alleged deposit and found two receipts for fifty quid.One of the card receipts was a 'customer not present' receipt which kind of implied there might be some truth in her story.The other was just a regular receipt paid in person on the day.
We were all clueless as to what could have happened,so much so that I couldn't wait till Monday so rang the member of staff on holiday and asked her if she'd taken a deposit.
Definitely not.
The plot thickened.
We decided we'd have to ask for the receipt but with a busy weekend ahead I put it out of mind and planned to deal with it on the Monday as previously planned.
But someone else had other ideas.
On the Saturday morning as I was racing around emptying the ash out of the fire and with the hoover going full belt, I became aware of a persistent tapping at the window.

I groaned inwardly and cursed the fact that I hadn't closed the curtains the night before as I glanced up and recognised the early morning caller.
The last thing you want first thing on a Saturday morning is a disgruntled customer before the coffee machine's even had a chance to warm up.
I fiddled with door key in the lock, just for a bit, long enough to keep me happy but not long enough to upset her..
She was clutching a couple of sheets of A4 paper with what I could see were credit card receipts paper clipped to the top.
As I looked at the documentation I explained again that its not procedure for us to take deposits for regular table bookings and I couldn't understand why this would have been requested.I was surprised by her response that she was under the impression that as the weather was icy and snowy the girl had asked for a deposit to 'make sure she turned up'.
Were that the case and with the weather forecast up here,we'd be taking deposits full time..
Now its one thing to mistakenly think a deposit has been charged but its quite another to fabricate a complete story around this to provide evidence.
I took a look at the card receipt which indeed showed payment to us of fifty pounds.But thank the Lord it wasn't the 'cardholder not present' receipt,it was a regular payment.
I tried explaining this but wasn't getting through,she kept pointing out her bank statement and the fact that the payment had been taken from her account and paid to us.
I couldn't get her to understand that I wasn't disputing the payment but there was no way it had been done remotely over the phone.
'Can I just ask why you didn't mention paying the deposit when you came for the meal?'
Reader,brace yourselves for the answer:
'Well it was over a month before and Id forgotten about it,it was only when I got my bank statement and I noticed there was a fifty pound payment to you,so I must have paid a deposit'
WT flaming F.
Then she played the age card.
' I am nearly seventy you know,I can't be expected to remember everything which has happened over a month before'
She'd forgotten about it.
Forgotten about the bloody meal she'd had over a month before more like.
By now I'd wasted at least twenty minutes out of my already tight morning schedule and with little progress being made and the time creeping forward ever closer to midday.
Fuck it.
I opened the till drawer took out fifty quid and gave it to her.
Was she grateful I hear you ask.
Was she grateful..
As I passed the money over she smiled in a self impressed manner and advised me that it was a good job our mistake had come to light as a result of her meticulous book keeping.
Reader,old or not,I could have knocked her out..

The following week we had a further intrusion in the form of a visit from a Food Hygiene Inspector.Arriving just on the start of lunch service my protestations that we were really busy fell on deaf ears as she declared that was the 'best time for her to inspect and see the kitchen in full flow'.
Well at least it was best for someone.
Donning her pristine white coast and hat before tramping into the kitchen in her outdoor shoes which had just previously traversed the muddy garden path and left a comforting trail through the pub,I can confirm that Chef was not overjoyed at this sight.
On previous visits we'd been told that we'd never achieve a food hygiene rating five due to the nature of the structure of the kitchen,it being fairly ancient and having a lovely beamed ceiling.Hygiene Inpsectors don't like bare wood.Its not a wipe clean surface.
So in the absence of demolishing the structure and starting fresh we'd settled for four stars.
Pleasingly the previous inspection had mentioned that we could do with a new kitchen floor and as luck would have it we'd fulfilled this criteria only a couple of months beforehand so everything was looking particularly chipper and I was feeling it quite a fortuitous turn of events that the Inspector had turned up so timeously.
As she was writing her report and having made a few suggestions re the new food allergen laws which we'd explained we were dealing with verbally due to the menu changing daily,I thought I'd ask her if was everything was to her satisfaction.Receiving an answer in the affirmative I thought I'd point out that in keeping with the recommendations of the previous inspection we'd replaced the kitchen floor ( at great expense to ourselves)and this being the case would we not now qualify for the five star rating.
Please?
Beam.
There was a bit of coughing,a bit of shuffling and an 'erm well..I ..well I  um, well don't see why not'
Further beam.
'Would you like a coffee,before you leave? SUCH a cold day..'
I was even reminding myself of Sybil Fawlty.


Two weeks later the bloody five star food hygiene certificate arrived.
Reader,I was made up.
Chef was not amused.
'I wish you would just leave things alone'
'Aren't you pleased?'
'No not really.I was happy with four.The trouble now is keeping it.Now we've got five the only way is down.What's going to happen next year when the other bloke comes round and he downgrades us.?'
Sigh.
Methinks he may have mistaken it for a Michelin star....







Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A very curious case of One-upmanship.

People have no idea of good manners and etiquette anymore.
Yesterday lunchtime I happened to notice a youngish couple with a baby loitering next to a table in the bar and fingering one of the blankets over the back of the chairs.I presumed they were admiring it as they seemed to be stroking it in appreciation.Being a busy Saturday I didn't give it much further thought until 10 minutes later I noticed it was no longer draped over the back of the chair.
The Dentist was doing the bar,I asked her if she'd seen them move it,my first thought was that it had been lifted.
'Oh yes I remember that couple I think they're still here'
Further investigation revealed the husband still sitting at a table in the restaurant,and the seed of what had actually happened was planted in my brain.
I asked the Blonde to go and check out the Ladies bog..
Two minutes later my worst fears were confirmed.
'Biff you won't believe what I've just seen in there,that woman has taken your LAURA ASHLEY throw and spread it on the toilet floor,and Biff she's using it as a changing mat,the baby is lying on there legs akimbo bare shitty baby arse in full contact with the fabric!'
WTF.
The Dentist shook her head in disbelief.
'They asked me if we had baby change facilities and I explained that we only have one loo and there just isn't space for the unit,they must have taken matters into their own hands..'
We hung around near the bar to see what would happen when she exited the loo.
Two minutes later she reappeared baby slung over one arm and my expensive bit of soft furnishing over the other,which she then nonchalantly REPLACED on the chair without giving  a second thought to the next unfortunate customer who might have the bad luck to rest their persona on the soiled bit of kit..
As if it was NORMAL procedure.
I recounted the story later to Chef.
'You're having a laff aren't you?you should have added a cleaning charge to their bill its not a bloody creche its a pub and as such specialises in the sale of alcoholic drinks,babies aren't exactly our target market  FFS'
Thankfully the ferocity of his response was limited by the fact that he had no idea what I'd actually paid for the Laura Ashley blanket(s) otherwise all hell might have broken loose on two fronts.
I do like bit of quality though.
People no longer seem to want to take responsibility for themselves, every need has to be catered for by some outside influence, if things continue the way they're going it won't be long before everybody will be afraid to leave the house.
Personally, I always found the back seat of the car a perfectly acceptable emergency mobile change unit rather than someone else's expensive soft furnishings..
The incident reminded me of another outrageous disregard for accepted etiquette which happened a few weeks ago.
We had a couple in for Sunday lunch,which in itself was unnoteworthy given the fact that Sunday lunch service is always heaving,but what happens next beggars belief and is possibly the worst PR fail I've come across in a long time.
I was just loading the next lot of veg into the rechauffe basket when OBBH appeared.
'Biff you will not believe what that woman on table 2 has just said'
'What now??' (with half interest,Sunday lunch service is becoming a tad predictable if nothing else).
'I asked her if she'd enjoyed everything and she said well actually I didn't think much of the food and I know good food I've got a restaurant of my own'
The cheeky cow.
The statement in itself might not have caused offence had those last five or six words tagged on at the end been omitted.
I'm not stupid enough to think that everybody is going to like what we do or even that what we do is better than what everyone else is doing,and we all go into businesses, local and otherwise and sometimes don't rate the food, but to go into another local business when you're in the trade yourself and pass judgement on what they're doing,its just not cricket is it??
It's also the worst PR favour you could do yourself.The thing is not everybody likes the same thing or even wants to go to the same place every time they go out so having a variety of similar but different businesses locally is always a good thing as you can feed off each other.I'm not saying we sent people over to this particular business every week but customers do ask for recommendations or people call in asking if there is anywhere in the particular direction they're going,then yes we would and have in the past given directions to this place on a number of occasions.

BUT READER,ALL HELL WILL FREEZE OVER BEFORE I SEND A FURTHER PUNTER OVER THERE.  

'Is she still here?' I was already on my way out to tackle her in person,but too late she had gone.
A quick check in the reservations diary revealed the name under which the booking had been made.
A subsequent google search revealed the name of a local business owner.
Reader,isn't google image search the best tool to hit the internet since the dawn of the global information superhighway.
AHA! Gotcha!
'Yes thats her,definitely..'
Who the fuck did she think she was,thinking she could surrepticiously come into my pub make disrespectful throwaway comments whilst the whole time expecting to remain incognito?
Pffft.
Well,no stone unturned *bangs fist on table* no stone unturned I tell you..
By this time we were all giggling that she hadn't bargained on Christine Cagney's finely honed investigative skills and would have no idea that she'd been so quickly rumbled.
In a fortuitous twist of fate,further enquiries revealed that the perpetrator conveniently happened to be following the pub Twitter account.
A quick follow back and Hey Presto! a direct line of communication was established..
Reader,I composed a very polite and well thought out DM informing her that I regretted to hear there'd been a problem with her meal and normally I like to deal with complaints in person, etc etc…
There's nothing annoys a complainer more than when you're nice to them..
I showed the message to the Blonde.
'Biff, she will have shit herself when that popped into her inbox..'
'I know,its perfect isn't it?'
We sat back and purred like a couple of butcher's cats in anticipation of the reply which must surely come soon.
Two days later and with no response forthcoming we were becoming a bit bored with the situation.
I noticed her Twitter account had fallen inactive which we judged to be probably a bit of skullduggery on her part to make me think she hadn't received the DM.
A week later and still no response.

'Well.. all that effort was a complete waste of time wasn't it?' said Chef .. 'the simple question you should have been asking yourself is: would we have time to swan over to their restaurant and eat a leisurely lunch on a Sunday'
'Well,no of course not'
'I rest my case..she was probably annoyed that this place was so busy'
Hmmm.
'Well actually my efforts weren't wasted'
'How so?'
'Well she knows that I know that she came in here and cast rude social grenades..'
(this is all getting very Mapp and Lucia..isnt it?)

Two women slag each other off in quaint village

'and?'
'Well that bitch won't be darkening my door again will she?'

I'd call that a win.








Sunday, 21 December 2014

I'll eat shit as long as I can sit at the best table.

There seems to be a growing movement of diners who approach the acquisition of their chosen table with the military precision and forward planning akin to a crack SAS unit.Nothing will thwart them from their ultimate goal:capture of the prize seat, this will often involve a forward reconnaissance trip to the pub beforehand and several phone calls afterwards..
We first experienced this phenomenon a number of years ago when the the local council decided to fund a pensioners Christmas lunch for around thirty which was very quickly oversubscribed.The group were due to arrive at midday as the pub opened but at around 11.30 I happened to glance out of the window and noticed a bus pulling into the car park.There's nothing as annoying as customers who arrive before you're ready to open up.If the front door's locked they will circuit the building until they find another means of access,even on occasion entering via the kitchen door fighting their way through the fly screen.
I'm quite adept at putting on the most deadest pan of faces when responding to the usual:
'We couldn't get the door open'
with
'Thats because we're not open yet..'
Sigh.
Anyway we were rushing around trying to get things ship shape early so we could get the door open,conscious that we didn't want to let a party of frail pensioners shiver on the doorstep and risk hypothermia before they'd even had their gratis Christmas turkey.
At this point Chef appeared.
'Jesus Christ come and have a look at this' he was standing mouth agape staring out of the window toward the garden path.
There was a veritable stampede of elderly folk charging drown the garden path ,walking sticks aloft,a flash of Queen mother handbags and cauliflower perms.There was even a wheelchair that would have given Dame Tanni a run for her money..
'MY GOD.I'M SCARED..WE DONT HAVE TO OPEN THE DOOR YET DO WE??'
A disorderly queue formed at the door before the walking sticks were deployed into operation with a determined but impatient tapping on the door.
'We better open up before they put the window through' I shouted 'pass the keys…QUICK'
As I turned the key in the lock it suddenly occurred to me that there were around thirty clamouring pensioners rammed right up to the front door and DEAR GOD didn't the flaming door open outwards…
They could potentially go over like a pack of dominoes if a didn't get them to move back.
'STAND BACK' I shouted as loudly as I could 'I'M OPENING UP..'
I could hear shuffling outside and tentatively pushed open the door nervously, just in case.
As the door opened and I stepped outside to secure it on its daytime hook on the pub wall,I was almost trampled underfoot as a herd of nuns shoes and M&S slacks surged past me into the pub.
Ive never seen a set of seniors,some of them moderately infirm looking move with such speed and urgency..
Once inside there was  a further scramble as they each fought to secure the prime seats,the more able bodied fighting their way ahead and bagging seats for mates.
"Over  here Betty Ive kept you a seat!!' Several walking sticks were waved aloft to attract attention.
I  even saw a few minor scuffles break out.
With all the excitement the food seemed almost secondary.To be honest a fair few of them didn't eat much though we spotted quite a bit of turkey being wrapped up in napkins and tucked away in the lunchboxy Queen Mother handbags.
I was surprised given the agility of the field in the chair dash to be called over to a couple of participants and asked if I could CUT UP THEIR FOOD.



Anyway..
The other week I happened to take a call for a booking for seven people..
I was just about to put the phone down having extracted all the relevant information when the caller interrupted .
'One last thing..we'd like to be seated in the bar area'
"Im sorry I'm afraid our biggest table in the bar area only seats six people'
'Are you sure? We'd really like to sit in the bar area'
Expectant pause..
'Yes I'm sure..the table only seats six,I can sit you in one of the adjacent rooms'
I finally managed to get him off the phone but I could tell he wasn't happy.Something told me this wasn't the last id heard of this particular person.
Later that afternoon,after I'd just returned from my afternoon stroll with the pooch I caught the back end of a telephone conversation that made my ears prick up….
'Yes ok, I'll mark that down we, could do that for you'

I could sense trouble.They don't call me Christine Cagney for nothing (subtweet haha!!)
'What was that about?'
'Oh It was the seven booked tomorrow night,the guy said he was told he could sit in the bar area and he was just checking that it had been noted in the diary.'
Now.
Nothing gets my fucking goat more than punters playing the staff off against each other and GOD FORBID managing to gain the upper hand.

'WHAT?? But you know we don't have a table that accommodates seven people in the bar'
'I know but he said someone told him we'd put a chair on the end of a table..'
WTF.
THE BLOODY LIAR.
I seethed right through dinner service with the thought of the fucker dictating what goes on IN MY FLAMING PUB.

When the following evening arrived I WAS READY FOR HIM.
The chair was placed strategically on the end of the table in the main thoroughfare from the bar,it wasn't going to be pleasant for whoever drew the short straw and had to sit there with drinkers milling around behind,breathing beer fumes all over their braised beef.
And*cough* the odd member of staff inadvertently bumping onto it…
When they were all seated it transpired there were a couple of children on the table.For the next few minutes a plethora of children's games,cards and tablets were offloaded into the centre of the dining table.It was like a scene from Fenwicks toy fair on the last shopping Saturday before Christmas.
Finally they got around to looking at the menu..
I could hear mutterings.
'Is there a children's menu?"
Godamnit.
I delivered the stock answer.
'No but we are happy to offer smaller portions of the regular menu'
Beam.
There was more chuntering…then loudly in order to make himself heard over the top of the three currently playing versions of Old MacDonald Had a Farm
'I can't believe they don't even have a single sausage in the kitchen'
That did it.
I steamed over.
'Im sorry we don't have sausages on the menu today,so therefore there are none available in the fridge'
I had a little smirk to myself.
'Actually we quite often do have sausages,in fact they were on the menu only yesterday..'
How ironic.
Beam.
I left them for a further minute to mull over the menu.
By now time was getting on and it being a Friday night Chef was getting tetchy for the order conscious of the backlog which was already piling up.
'Are you ready to order?'
'Actually no,we're just going to leave it as theres nothing for the children.I mean my kids will eat ANYTHING but theres just nothing there at all that they can eat'
I glanced up at the menu,noting the lamb chops,the steak,the pasta dish,the cod,the very tasty soup,various salads,belly pork,not to mention the range of simple sandwiches(what the hell kid doesn't like BACON??)and wondered what the fuckl this lot DID eat.
Reader,brace yourself for the next comment.
'Do we have to pay for the drinks?'
Lets just think this one through.
So.
In addition to now having seven spare places on a Friday night and having already turned punters away,its now MY fault that you didn't like the menu and you'd like me to compensate you for the inconvenience by offering GRATIS drinks?
I toyed with the idea of telling them that if they'd put as much effort into finding out what was on the actual menu as they did researching the seating plan it would've saved everyone concerned a lot of wasted time and effort.
Instead I kept quiet and presented them with a drinks bill which was not received with warmth.
I consoled myself with the thought that the only place they'd get in at short notice on a Friday night was probably the one of the local Indian restaurants and pondered the likelihood of the kids eating curry when basic English fare was off limits…

Later on Postman Pat came in for dinner.
Popular fictional character

Not the actual Postman Pat if you get my drift but someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to the popular children's TV character.
Its worth noting at this point that if you are unfortunate enough to resemble some well known fictional character you might want to think twice about frequenting the same hostelry on a regular basis.Better to spread your custom around and thus avoid being tagged with an unwelcome moniker  similarly,persons who eat the same meal every time they visit may wish to ring the changes now and again to avoid becoming known by the name of their favoured dish.
EG:
'Postman Pat'
'Sausage man'
or even the unfortunate
'BLT on brown'
All existing customers of ours.
On the bright side if I ever lose my iPhone I comfort myself with the thought that the finder will make no sense whatsoever of the messages contained therein.
For example:
(From an off duty member of staff  doing a spot of shopping in Waitrose and happening to bump into a regular'
'BLT on brown heading your way Biff,ETA 10 mins'

SO.
Postman Pat always has plenty to say for himself.Probably because he has a chip on his shoulder because no one takes him seriously because he looks like Postman Pat..
Anyway.
He was troughing his way merrily through his meal so I thought I'd go over and put in an appearance just to nip any potential complaint in the bud.
Having inquired as to the enjoyment of the meal and having received an answer(well a nod to be exact-perfect timing his mouth was full)indicating the affirmative, I left fairly pleased and moderately surprised that the extra workload with the Christmas post hadn't dampened his mood.
I didn't give him much thought for the rest of the night.
Later as I was exchanging a few pleasantries with the kitchen staff, the Blonde burst through the kitchen door.
'Biff.I want to twat him'
'Who?'
'Postman Pat.He's just been on a massive rant about the wine list and how he can go to X and Y and drink lovely wine for £12 a bottle and he doesn't want to come here and drink South African Shiraz at 6 quid a glass when other places round here have far superior wine lists.And can I 'feed' this information to you Biff and can I tell you that you need to raise your game quick smart otherwise he won't be coming back soon'

'Ive told you before about holding customers at gunpoint and forcing red wine down their necks' said Chef helpfully.

Now recently we've employed an Italian kitchen porter who's family have been in the restaurant trade for many years and reader, the conversations I'm having with him regarding common guest relation problems are proving insightful to say the least..in fact Im picking up quite a few tips on how best to deal with difficult customers.
I was particularly impressed with his description of his fathers likely response to this particular situation.Imagine the following in raised tone and and with accompanying frenzied hand gesticulation:
'You wanna go to  X or Y then?? Well getta  the fucka outta here,in fact I call you a cab.RIGHT NOW'
Giggle.
At this point the conversation became a little silly partly because our new KP either wasn't aware of Postman Pats stunning resemblance to his fictional namesake or had no idea who Postman Pat was,therefore the following wisecrack from Chef delivered with the usual ascerbic wit, was lost in a cavernous void of misapprehension.

'He won't need a taxi,he's got his red van parked outside'

'He has a red van?Jesus Christ fancy driving after all that red wine.. The BASTARD'..

I should have been Italian..


'














Sunday, 26 October 2014

Postcard from Ireland

In a break with tradition we've had a holiday.The public don't expect publicans to have holidays. I can only imagine the verbal abuse the staff will have fielded due to no food being available in Chef's absence.
You'd be surprised at how many people will embark on two hour round trip for a bowl of chips and a cheddar sarnie and how angry they are when they can't get them..

I've been encouraged however,to discover that wherever you go the poor hospitality worker appears to encounter the same ineptitude and buffoon like behaviour..
It was a Monday lunchtime in October when we ignored our own best advice and tipped up without an appointment at this atmospheric little place.

At 12.30 there were already three tables taken but Chef's eyes alighted on a prime viewing spot by the window and was already steaming over there to seize possession when the lone waiter intervened.
'I'm sorry Sir but that table is booked'
Prime spot overlooking the bay

Of course it fucking is,what the hell planet are we on ?
Idiot.
The very pleasant young man directed us to a less attractively located table,you know,one of the ones you don't dare book out because they're next to the netty door or the coffee machine (which always comes in quite handy as you can unexpectedly bang the coffee knock out draw with the force of a young Arnold Swarzenegger in the case of any awkward customer being seated next to it..its great watching them flinch like they've been shot by a sniper..)
Anyhoo.
Due to my extensive experience of belligerent customers and equally feeling embarrassed by Chefs faux pas (he should know better) I overcompensated and made a huge show of not being an awkward customer.
'Thats perfect,yes thats a lovely table we'd love to sit there'
I gave Chef a swift warning kick on the shin and he obligingly flashed his best rictus grin.
The poor lad looked a bit shifty and averted his eyes in embarrassment.
Which was no surprise really, as it had been over a week since I'd made eye contact with another human being due to the Mother of all Cold Sores which had taken up residence on my lower lip.
By now it was at the shrivelling stage and looked like I'd blu tacked a plump California raisin to my lip. To make matters worse I'd daubed Sudocrem(*cough*as we all know this clears up ANYTHING..) on the atrocity, giving the effect of a MOULDY California raisin.
It was indeed an eye catching display.
On the plus side I was feeling slightly more at ease as nobody knew me.

A predominately seafood restaurant might seem an ill advised choice given Chef's fish allergy but I'd already checked on line that there'd be something he could eat and was set on a nice plate of oysters and a glass of champagne for me lunch.
The restaurant was cosy,with eight tables in a compact space.
We'd already noted an upstairs seating area with windows overlooking the bay but clearly at lunchtime in October and with only one person working the tables it made sense to keep everyone downstairs.
Yes oddly one does need to make a profit.
Presently, I noticed a particularly flashy car pull up outside.
A couple entered the room.I could tell straight away they were Americans due to their huge blow dries and statement horsey teeth.American teeth are fifty per cent bigger than English teeth and one hundred per cent whiter.
Seconds later the wives followed in behind.
There seem to be a lot of Americans visiting Ireland at this time of year.Probably third or fourth generation emigrants visiting the homeland.The American demeanour  bears no resemblance to that of your average Irish person. With the exception of two places visited we witnessed a complaint from a cuz stateside every night.
Every single night.
And as with all things American, the American complaint is also exponentially bigger.

Apologies if this offends any polite and easy mannered American but this lot had a sense of entitlement and superiority that causes an interaction which should be an enquiry to come out as a statement of fact:
'You have an upstairs seating area?We'll sit upstairs,so we can enjoy the views'
Will you indeed..
My ears pricked up immediately,I wondered how the very pleasant young man might deal with this.
'Yes Sir we do but I'm afraid its not open at lunchtime,I can offer you this table here'
I glanced at the table right next the the front door and knew straight away they wouldn't be happy with being sidelined, they were definitely centre stage material.
They didn't go for it.
There followed an heated interaction some of which I couldn't quite catch,but I could see they were digging their heels in.
Finally in a loud voice I heard the threat 'Well buddy, we'll come back when the upstairs seating are IS open'
They stood there expectantly thinking they'd played the trump card.Customers quite often overestimate how desperate you are for their cash.
'Ok Sir sorry about that'
BRAVO.
The waiter tried to push a business card their way as they stormed out of the door.
'He should have sent the fuckers up there and and forgotten about them' said Chef,'I don't fancy their chances finding somewhere round here as nice as this on a Monday lunchtime'
'Well they always have the mini bar in the hotel room to fall back on..'
'They didn't look the sort to be sated by a packet of Pringles and a seed bar' said Chef smirking..

Just then our meals arrived.
'Oh look' said Chef 'the sauce for your salad is in an oyster shell'
I was just thinking what a nice idea this was when as fate would have it,the waiter went to put down the salad and the dressing was sadly no longer in the oyster shell but all over the table.


"I'm sorry Madam I'll get that changed for you'
'No its fine,don't worry'
I grabbed at the plate.
He tried to take the plate again, but again I grabbed it and made him put it down,determined not to be a difficult customer.
Reader,I was practically licking the salad dressing from the table top.
'I don't know why you didn't just let him change it?' said Chef with an eye roll…
Minutes later the waiter returned with some blue centre feed roll to mop up the mess.
It would probablyhave been easier all round if I'd allowed him to change it,but still, I win, I'd proved I wasn't a difficult customer.
After I'd downed half a dozen oysters, a delicious crab salad and had polished off two lovely glasses of house champagne I was still a bit thirsty so went to have a quick swig of Chef's finest lager.
I was stopped mid track.
'Are you intent on killing me?' said Chef
'Eh?'
Just then I remembered the infectious abomination on me lower lip.
'Oh yes, of course I shouldn't be drinking out of the same glass in case you catch it'
'Jesus,the cold sore is the last of me worries,you've downed enough bloody seafood to bump me off….'

After lunch and a pleasant stroll along the seashore we headed back to our lodgings as Chef had promised himself an afternoon snooze prior to the evening festivities.
When his alarm sounded a short hour after his head hit the very cosy 300 thread count Egyptian cotton pillowcase,I enquired had he enjoyed his repose.
'Well no, not really..'
Why?
Well,what was all that noise??'
'Oh.Sorry. I was having a look in the drawers and I pulled that one right out and the coffee stuff fell on the floor and I couldn't get the drawer back in and then I tripped over your walking boots and fell flat on the floor..'
Just your average afternoon then.
'No not that racket.Did you have the shits?'
What?? (indignantly)
'Sounded like gurgling and then the toilet roll spinning round.I thought you had the shits'
'Oh THAT noise..' (splutter) 'I found a coffee percolator in the wardrobe and I thought I'd brew up..'



And that was only the first day of the holiday...
Moody shot of an Irish litter bin.I can do arty.





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