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Friday, 31 May 2013


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.
'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....
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 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.

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


      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.
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?'
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..
This is a typical shopping at the sale mentality:I don't really want it but Ill get it anyway coz its cheap/free.
'Would you like your free glass of wine now'
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...'

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'

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Where's my farking custard?

You know if you were going out for a special landmark birthday and there was a deal breaker item that  was absolutely non negotiable in terms of your enjoyment of the evening,something equatable to your last supper on death row? You'd kind of do everything in your power to make sure that the place you booked up for said meal actually had this item on the menu or at worst were prepared to get it in for you...wouldn't you?
Perhaps a dozen oysters accompanied by a glass of vintage 1976 Pol Roger might be your thing?Or maybe a Kobe beef fillet accompanied by a lovely Chateauneuf du Pape,or some Foie Gras and truffles and a glass of decent Burgundy or even a Salad Nicoise with a chilled glass of Provence Rose..
Or perhaps some CUSTARD.

Yes,you heard me.
This morning I was merrily going about my daily chores when I fielded a very irate call.The lady caller had dined with us the previous night.It was a birthday celebration,a bit of a landmark date,though as you know Im far too discreet to give away a lady's age.They were a bit of an unlikely group all fairly imposing characters wearing vertiginous heels, pelmet skirts and make up applied with a shotgun. There was only one man in the group,quite an affable chap though disconcertingly it had been duly noted wearing serial killer's shoes.Anyway,things were going swimmingly,until the pudding order was taken and the birthday girl expressed a desire for some custard with her chocolate cake.Sadly there was no custard on the menu and with checks aplenty on the board in the kitchen there was no chance of any off menu orders going in there on this particular occasion.
There was an unusual response to the rebuttal of the attempted custard order:
'Way cant yus gan doon to Tescos like and get us some Ambrosia?Thats what 'Spoons did last time wis went out for dinner??"
We nervously laughed off this suggestion as a joke at the time,and the lady begrudgingly settled for some of the on menu chocolate sauce,so all was well.
Or so we had thought.
Until todays phone call.
It seems she was bitterly disappointed, her barely contained anger audible over the phone line in her shaking tones.The upshot of the conversation being the lack of a custard sauce had 'ruined' her birthday but she hadn't wanted to make a fuss on the evening due to there being 15 other guests and it would have been embarrassing for them.I had my ear chewed for at least 15 minutes regarding the egg drought..
Apologising for our failure on the custard front,I took care to point out that items not on the menu are not normally available unless specifically requested in advance.Finally,against my better judgement and with one eye on the clock ticking ever onwards towards midday, in desperation I invited her back for a gratis lunch.
The anger miraculously tamed,the call was swiftly brought to a close.
The Cynical One was not amused.
'you are joking,tell me you didn't invite her back..'
'Yes I couldn't get her off the phone,the conversation wasn't going anywhere so I thought it easier just to comp her a lunch..'
The Cynical One wandered off to enjoy an interval of much disgusted head shaking and tutting.
Chef too was equally unimpressed,respectfully requesting that any future such complaint be dealt with in the following manner:

'F*ck off..'


The only comforting thought in all of this is that the inevitable Trip advisor drubbing is going to make pretty amusing reading.
*wrings hands in anticipation*


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