Boring stuff

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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Blind date

Recently,its come to my attention that increasingly couples seem to be getting together over the internet via on line dating sites.

Being a country pub a bit of the beaten track and with cosy corners a plenty we've often spotted first dates and illicit secret liaisons. It's always nice to invent an interesting story to bring these individuals to life.
Not long ago and Tina Turner dropped by to enjoy a surreptitious supper together.
One couple in particular that caught our imagination would always arrive in separate cars,spend a couple of touchy feeley hours in the corner then embrace passionately in the car park( always plenty of handy bottles to take out to the bins for occasions such as this), before speeding off in opposite directions.
The very well dressed woman was in her late forties with two grown up children,one a record producer in London and one (embarrassingly) a pastry crimper in a pie factory. She always paid for the drinks.Her husband,a successful merchant banker based in Hong Kong had become bored with her and spent increasingly long periods away from home with his second young family in Thailand.She remained married to him as she had become far too accustomed to her financial and social status to consider giving it up.She made regular trips to the capital, purportedly to visit her favoured son, but primarily to top up on the expensive Botox injections at the clinic on Harley Street where she'd bumped into the diminutive Lulu on more than one occasion.
It was on one of these trips that she'd fallen for her young gentleman.Their paths crossed on a chance meeting in a fashionable bacaro on Beak St.She skidded awkwardly on a stray olive which had lain unnoticed on the tiled floor and inadvertently detached one of the heels from her Louboutins.Her suitor had gallantly come to her aid with the handy tube of Unibond which he always kept about his person for precisely this sort of unexpected occasion.He was a talented musician, having trained at the Royal Academy of Music, but had fallen on hard times so was currently scraping a living working as a pianist in a brothel(no pun intended).
They were such an endearing couple.They visited us every Sunday night for 6 months,then intriguingly were never seen again.
I believe she cleared out the joint bank accounts which it was remiss of her absentee husband not to have closed and eloped with her lover to Israel to live on a Kibbutz,rescuing him from a fate far worse than a ten week run in the pit orchestra at the Palladium playing repetitive dance numbers in a Darren Day revue show(matinees and evenings).
He's currently blissfully happy compiling his own collection of Yusuf Islam style love songs inspired by their romance, which will be produced by her son and released at her own expense in November just in time to capitalise on the Christmas market..
Sadly, not all matches are as successful.
The other night I happened to notice a couple who looked slightly ill at ease.
The woman looked ill at ease.
I positioned myself nearby to polish a bit of cutlery and to eavesdrop any interesting chit chat.If you want to do a bit of light earwigging, cutlery polishing is the perfect cover as you can clatter about periodically giving the impression to your victims that you are totally disinterested and not listening in to their conversation at all.They clearly didn't know each other well,it became apparent quite quickly that this was in fact their first meeting.The man was talking constantly,but not in the nervous manner of a person rambling on to fill any embarrassing silence.He was enjoying his chatter.He liked the sound of his own voice.
The Blonde approached the table to take the order,the woman asked for soup followed by the grilled salmon.A safe and informed order for a first date-no fiddly shellfish,pasta slurping or finger licking to contend with.
In an act which I can only assume was an ill founded attempt to prove their innate compatibility her  date immediately duplicated the order exactly.
Thats got to piss you off BIG STYLE.
For a start a woman wants a man who knows his own mind and isn't going to fall in exactly with her decisions otherwise she's going to get bored very quickly indeed.I recommend a nice cut of rare beef as a first date option,ideally steer clear of anything which might be deemed a girly choice i.e. SALMON.If you happen to like salmon or any other fish-save it for the second date after you've made that all important first impression.Remember,first impressions COUNT.Secondly,four plates of identical food knocks any diversionary sampling of the other persons food on the head straightaway,and disposes of any safety net conversation talking points i.e. 'how is your meal?'
Yup pretty self explanatory isn't it-you can't really enquire how a meal is when you're troughing on an identical plate of nosh can you?
He rattled on throughout the starter and to the delivery of the main course.His date,who had her back to me barely uttering a word other than the odd 'mmhm'  'mhmmm'.He was showing her photographs on his i-phone with a running commentary on where and with whom they were taken.
'This is me and my son on holiday in Benidorm last year.I many fathers take their sons on holiday on their own??'
This is all wrong.
Its ok to tell her you took your son on holiday,hopefully she will go home thinking what a great fellow you are taking your young son on holiday on your own.Perhaps you planned to tell her this hoping she would come to this very conclusion.But the fact that you pointed out to her that you are an all round good egg totally negates any positive effects.
There were photos of him in his schooldays, then further holiday snaps of the previous years excursion to Paphos accompanied by similar cringeworthy comments noting the sons apparent startling resemblance to his father:
'Look at that,thats just me isn't it??'
His face was vaguely familiar,I was wondering where Id seen him before,just then I realised as he flashed a Care Bear smile after each smug comment.
Im lovely aren't I?

For farks sake you've only just met her.Ask her something about herself,has SHE any family??Engage her in a bit of conversation please...
At this point I overheard him say'I wonder where the Gents is'
Quick as a flash and in the first piece of conversation I'd heard her make,she turned around to address me and said with some urgency 'can you tell me where the Gents is please?'
I considered offering to distract him whilst she did a runner-perhaps she could have an urgent phone call from home..but before I'd had the chance to intervene, she was up on her feet at the bar ordering a LARGE Pinot Grigio which she promptly necked in one and was back safely in her seat by the time he'd returned from the netty.
She must have decided to front things out and get a lift home,but I was betting there was going to be no invite in for coffee and Hob Nobs after this performance.
The final nail in his coffin came with the classic:
'This is me.....when I had hair...'
Dear God.Surely everyone knows that drawing attention to your own hirsutability is unlikely to get you a second bite at the cherry.
I silently applauded her response:
'OH really?? It looks nothing like you...'
Personally, I'd sue match dot com.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

How was your Mothers Day?

We've had a mostly uneventful week.
Encouragingly most customers have been beautifully behaved,save for the odd menu misunderstanding(more later).
Its been a week notable most for the inordinate volume of phone calls seeking tables for Mothers Day.I kid you not the phone has rung incessantly,even up to the eleventh hour on Sunday morning with the final male callers dispensing with the usual social niceties and simply uttering 'Ive left it too late haven't I?',their despondency acutely tangible even over the telephone line.
Chef wondered if there was some way of vetting prospective customers in order to allocate tables depending on prospective spend per head.You see, as with other special events Mothering Sunday is all a bit of a lottery as to whether or not you manage to book in the 'right' customers.As you know,Im not a snob but Mothers Day as with other special events brings out the diners who don't normally eat out and aren't fully au fait with the formal etiquette.If you're unlucky you'll have allocated all your tables to amateur diners who eat out but a couple of times per year-to them  a main course and soft drink with 'extra Yorkies please' is pushing the proverbial gravy boat out..

We decided to get the window boxes revamped in time for Mothers Day so the place was looking all spring like and chipper.The canny chap from the Garden centre in question cleverly suggested we provide a complimentary plant for each of the Mums on Mothers day-along with a little half price voucher for them to hopefully visit the garden centre later and encourage some further spin off sales.Its always a good plan to support other local like minded independent businesses and everyone likes a bit of Gratis so obviously I jumped at the chance.
Chef had a glut of short ribs and spent the main part of the week adding to his repertoire of '100 ways with short ribs' in increasingly inventive fashion.In addition we happened to have an unusual porter with cherry overtones on the bar,at 6.2 percent not for the faint hearted(or those careering around the countryside off public transport routes), and not going down as well as we'd hoped despite my own efforts in drinking the odd wine glass full after service.The porter found its way into (amongst other things) a particularly delightful chocolate cake(ooh it tastes like a Blackforest gateau...).
The final Coup de Gras for both the short ribs and the porter was the production of the 'beef short rib terrine' flavoured with shallots which had been sweated down with the potent ale into a sticky concentrated mass.In a double whammy served with a shot of the offending liquor,the item flew out on the Saturday night and with only a few portions remaining for Mothers Day,Chef was well pleased with himself.
Two items shifted for the price of one.
Unfortunately,Chef didn't account for the inexperienced diners that rocked up in droves on Mothering Sunday.
First up 'Can you tell me what Chateau Rie is please?'
Trying desperately to rearrange my facial features so as not to display my utter confusion I floundered momentarily,the whole wine list flashing afore me minds eye but nothing remotely resembling the elusive Chateau Rie coming to mind.
'Im sorry-can you repeat that??'
'Chateau Rie-the third item down on the starter board.'
Recovering composure,I continued:
'Ah that's Charcuterie-served with pickles and bread(and a sneaky bit of the aforementioned short rib terrine but we wont mention that..)
'What is Charcuterie?'
Sharp intake of breath.
'Cold meats,pickles bread-its very tasty..'
Result they ordered it.

With further orders coming on for the terrine and one eye on the profits,Chef was feeling ever so slightly smug and pleased that we'd managed to attract more than single course diners..
All was going swimmingly well until Sunday Girl burst into the kitchen head in hands,bent over double and making a weird groaning noise.I wasn't sure if she was in pain,crying or laughing.
'Biff.. I think you need to write on the board that the terrine comes 'with a glass of Dark ale''
'Why? what's happened???'
'I've just had to stop someone from pouring the shot of ale over THE TOP OF THE TERRINE AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF GRAVY..'
'WHAT?Are you joking??'
'No I heard her say 'I wonder what this is' then just as I was going over she was just pouring it was awful.. sob'
Chef looked over in disgust.
'Dear God,what the Rowan Atkinson in a Mr Bean outfit is that all about..??'

There was a further minor glitch when someone asked what anchovy and caper butter was.
'Erm..its a butter flavoured with anchovies and capers'
I was unprepared for the response which left me an uncharacteristically gibbering mess.
I excused myself and returned to the kitchen to slit my wrists.
Gratis blooms

The complimentary bouquets were going down a treat,one even smoothing over the disgruntled woman  and potential future Tripadvisor assailant, with the alledgedly burnt Yorkie which had 'spoilt her dinner'.Though obviously there was no evidence to support this claim due to the offending charred Yorkie having been consumed in its sorry entirety.

Theres always one who has to spoil things though isn't there?

We'd placed the little 'Happy Mothers Day half price vouchers' out on all the tables prior to seating guests,the plan being that when diners requested their bills the Gratis plants to be presented to the Mothers at the optimum moment just prior to the eagerly anticipated tip allocation.
At this particular table The Stony Faced Daughter raised her hand just as the gift was about to be presented with a flourish to her overjoyed and aged Mother.
'Just hold on a minute there...Is the plant half price? Are we paying for that ??'

It appeared she'd read the little voucher and presumed we were flogging the plants to all the Mothers in a brazen attempt to impersonate the old geezer with the flower basket that used to trawl round all the toon bars touting overpriced and past their sell by dates flowers to everyone who was bladdered and hoping to get lucky..
To add insult to injury, rumour has it that this particular individual achieved a not insignificant win on the lotto recently.
If that were me,Dear Reader,I'd be be smiling and spending.Permanently.

So finally, I leave you with the thought that a Mother is for all year round-not just for Mothers Day.So why not take her out a bit more often and preferably spread yourselves throughout the year?

Friday, 8 March 2013

10 things which give me the idea you aren't going to like this place..

1.Ask for the 'printed menu' not the blackboard specials.
You know the secret menu that we keep for special customers and don't show anyone else as we don't want to sell anything from it.

2.Fling all your coats at me and watch on horrified as I drape them artfully over the backs of your chairs.
What?You expect me to employ a cloakroom attendant at these prices??

3.Request a table away from any doors/walkways/the bar/kitchen.
What you want is a private dining room, not a wonky table in a pub.

4.Tell me to respect the wine and let it breathe for at least 15 mins before pouring,then feel the bottle and place it on top of a nearby radiator,whilst tutting, accompanied by a knowing shake of the head.
Its a Chilean merlot for farks sake.

5.Talk loudly about all the 'fyne dyning' restaurants you've visited over the years,name dropping as many as possible.
Sorry 'fraid we don't have a special miniature table to accommodate your handbag..

7.Begin a sentence with 'Im surprised you don't..' and complete with a reference to the lack of a particular item,erstwhile smiling sweetly.
This may relate to the lack of a linen tablecloth,napkin,condiment,obscure liquer you enjoyed whilst on a recent sabbatical in the Dolomites or even a bloody After Eight Mint.

8.Ask me in a haughty voice to tell you about a self explanatory menu item e.g: 'Talk to me about the leek and potato soup'
Will this do?The potatoes were lovingly hand picked by Irish virgins,cooked slowly over an open flame until tender, their white flesh smooth and pillowy,leeks hand raised,nourished daily with organic beer and picked at the optimum moment of freshness..
 Its a fecking leek and potato soup-if you want you can have it in a bowl with a spoon to eat it with...

9.Tell me you haven't been before(despite having lived in the immediate hinterland for 20 years) but came because your friends insisted you try us,then repeatedly mention and compare us to a nearby place that you love that 'never gets it wrong'..
What friends?you came to prove you knew more than they did, didn't you?

10.Launch into an extended diatribe about the time that you visited The Hinds Head and they 'got it wrong'
You might as well give up now- you're on a hiding to hell with this lot.....



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