Week Twenty Two – Service

There is no weigh in this week because Debbie and I are off to see Stephen Fry at the Royal Albert Hall. Hopefully, having lost some weight, my arse will be a bit more comfortable on the tiny seats than it was last time we went.

Last week one of my bosses had a short break in Cornwall. He was telling me how he and his wife went into a pub just before two o’clock to get some lunch. There was a man placing a food order at the bar so my boss queued behind him. When he had finished serving the first customer the barman cleared away the menus.

“Oh,” said my boss, “I was just about to order from that.”
“It’s past two so now we are on a different menu,” he was told.

It all sounded a bit like the Falling Down Whammy Burger scene but obviously as it was in Cornwall there were less submachine guns. Boss didn’t fancy anything from the new menu so they left to find something else. Half an hour down the road they found another pub which was deserted. They went in and asked if they were still doing food. The woman behind the bar looked at her watch, saw it was two thirty five and told them that they stopped serving at two thirty.

They ended up buying a sandwich from Tesco.

I might be wrong but I thought tourism was the lifeblood of Cornwall and yet the attitude seems to be that “bloody grockles*” are not really wanted.

A few weeks ago we decided to try the refurbished restaurant at our local Marriot. The food was mediocre at best but what made the experience truly awful was the service. We had to chase after the waiter to order drinks and they arrived when we had almost finished eating. When the food arrived the waiter was juggling plates for our table and the one next to us. This is a bugbear of mine, I didn’t expect Michelin Starred service where all the plates are placed on the table at the same time but I do expect to feel that we are being paid attention to. When they cleared the plates they didn’t ask why Debbie had left half of her food.

I read recently a list of rules for waiting staff which chimed with me. It is mostly common sense for waiting staff to think of what they would like or dislike if they were the customer.

I have a theory that in other countries front of house is regarded as a profession but here waiting is regarded as something you fall into while you are looking for something else.

Good service does exist though. We recently went to Lussmann’s in Hertford for a family meal. The excellent service took the experience way above expectations to the extent that I sought out the manager to compliment her on her staff.

Last year Debbie and I took our mothers to lunch at Tierra Brindisa on a mother’s treat. Due to the fact I am a numpty I got the opening time wrong and we turned up forty five minutes early. We were welcomed inside and served drinks while we waited for the kitchen to open. At no point did they point out that the restaurant was not actually open yet.

This week I thought I would post my Garlic Mushroom Spaghetti recipe. I have tried to make this without butter and it is possible but I have found that even a tiny amount vastly improves it. Take as much garlic as you feel comfortable with then add a little bit more for this recipe. Like the soup the garlic adds a creaminess rather than the flavour you would expect.

1 Teaspoon butter
Splash of olive oil
6 Cloves garlic, crushed or sliced
200g Button mushrooms
1 Tin tomatoes or passata

In the butter and olive oil fry the garlic for a few minutes then add the mushrooms and fry them too. Once the mushrooms are nearly cooked add the tomatoes and reduce the heat. Simmer for at least twenty minutes (as with most sauces I think the longer you cook it the better). Stir through coked pasta and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan.

*I know grockle is a Devonish term and in Cornwall the word is Emmet but I prefer the sound of grockle.

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