Friday, 4 March 2011

Out to lunch

These days there is fierce competition between eating places, especially as the tourist season is only just around the corner. Places are popular for a while and then for some reason they go out of favour. It is not an easy life for owners of pubs and eating houses - there is always so much to do and it is important to always be pleasant, welcoming, prompt as well as serving first class food. You don't need to just think about today's meal, you need to think about tempting people to return and to tell their friends.

This was brought home to me when I went out to lunch with a friend yesterday. I wish I had taken my camera, but I forgot it. Absolutely everything about the meal was first class. I will tempt your taste buds by telling you that we both had crayfish and chicory salad for starter; then my friend had lemon sole with veggies and I had mushroom risotto. My friend had chocolate torte for pud (I had no pud) and then we both had two coffees - these came with a pretty china tray of home made chocolates. My friend had a glass of merlot with her meal, I had a tonic with ice and lemon. The whole meal, including drinks, for both of us was around £28. Now that is good value.

Coming home I made a mental list of the important things that made this meal so good.
Here they are:-

1. The outside as you approach the car park. There were tubs with Spring flowers, the area was swept clean, the wall lights were on inside, and as we drove into the car park (we were five minutes before opening time) the landlady opened the door and invited us in!

2. There was a huge log fire burning in the grate - not a mock fire but a real, lusty fire which she made up several times during the two hours we were there. We bagged the table in the window by the fire. The windows were shiny clean and we had a lovely view of the village.

3. Menus were brought immediately by a smiling lady who told us to take our time, took our drinks order and returned in minutes with that.

4. Cutlery and napkins arrived along with salt and pepper and table mats - all spotlessly clean and within a few minutes our salads came - they looked so tasty and were so prettily served.

5. The waitress kept here eye on us and immediately we had finished she took the plates away and brought our main course. Within a couple of minutes she was back to ask if we needed anything more.

6. Coffee was accompanied by a small white china tray holding four home made chocolates and a pretty central fruit decoration.

Then we were left by the fire to enjoy our coffee and toast our feet by the blaze. There was a pleasant hum of conversation and no-one pressed us to leave. As we paid we were wished a pleasant journey and told that they hoped we would come again.

Do your eating places fulfil all these criteria. Certainly the ones I usually go to don't. Often the outside is sadly neglected - cigarette ends where people have come outside for a smoke, bits of rubbish which have blown there, outside tables and chairs still showing the ravages of winter.

I would say to these owners - pull your socks up - visitors will be scarcer than usual this year during the recession. You have to pull all the stops out to attract people over the threshold and keep them there.

I am going out to dinner tonight as well, sadly to a different hostelry - I doubt it will be as good - it certainly won't be better.


Anonymous said...

I am not one for eating out, never have been. The nearest I get to eating out is fish and chips out of the paper on a nearby beach, and it suits me fine. What people pay for a meal out these days seems ludicrous to me, almost as bad as the price paid for overly decorated buns calling themselves 'cupcakes', to justify the high price presumably! What you paid for one meal is half my weekly housekeeping, out of which I get three meals a day, snacks, treats and so on. Different world, this one of redundancy!! But it has SO many advantages, I can't begin to tell you, most of which are absolutely priceless.

Dave King said...

I think that sums it up, nicely.

Helsie said...

I think your outing sounds lovely. I'd love to make a visit there . The food sounded fantastic and the atmosphere welcoming and comfortable.
Perhaps you should name the place as an endorsement. I'd call in on my next visit to the lovely Yorkshire Dales.

steven said...

well weaver it looks like you hit the foody jackpot! perhaps a career as a restaurant critic is beckoning!!! steven

Rachel Phillips said...

Can't be bad up there in sunny Yorkshire.
Not only a farmer's wife but now a hospitality expert. What next I ask myself.

Heather said...

That eating place certainly ticks all the boxes Pat. It sounds wonderful and excellent value - a hard act to follow so I hope your dinner came up to scratch! We had a good lunch at a garden centre cafe yesterday - chicken and leek pie with roast potatoes and 'real' vegetables. I could taste that someone had actually prepared them and not just tipped them out of the freezer bag. Some places manage produce good food at reasonable prices but there are so many who dont.

John Going Gently said...

good service in the UK (a rarity I am afraid)

ArtPropelled said...

With the exchange rate against us we have put off travelling to Britain for a while but your meal is very reasonable even when we convert Pounds to Rands.

Pondside said...

We'll all want the name of the restaurant if we're ever in your part of the world!

Laura said...

What a lovely dining experience! I would surely visit that eatery if I was near it. I agree that the outside of the establishment is as important as the inside. Sadly, here in California, most are as you described with strewn paper, cigarette ends, etc floating about.

A wonderful weekend to you!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Well folks I think Maggie has brought us all down to earth. As a retired teacher I suppose I am so lucky, particularly as I am married toa still-working farmer, so that the odd meal out is very enjoyable (we don't do it very often and tonight's is a once a year job for a group we belong to). Redundancy is a blight suffered by so many and yet some, like Maggie it would seem from what she says, make the best of it and find that there are compensations.

Peter Goulding said...

I often think there is nothing so idyllic as lunch out in an English country pub

mrsnesbitt said...

Sounds good Pat - as you say you don't do it often - so when you do something like this it is a lovely occasion. We rarely go out as you knoe - but Jon takes me out every Valentine's Night - some would po po the idea but it is a romantic gesture which I love.

angryparsnip said...

What a lovely time out you had with your friend.
I don't go out all the time but a meal out with family or friends is beyond priceless. Time to visit and enjoy, as you did the view and fireplace.
Restaurants have many of the same dishes for Lunch at a lower price which makes it so affordable.

cheers, parsnip

Cloudia said...


Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral



Jo said...

"Pull your socks up"...that says it all now, doesn't it!

Unlike Maggie, I enjoy trying new restaurants, and will go any time I'm invited. I love the adventurous aspect of the unknown, and am rarely disappointed.

The price is another can get expensive if you go all out, but my friends and I are experts at sharing and splitting meals!

You have found a treasure...a place where the owners take pride in every aspect of their service. I hope you'll repay them with many returns to their beautiful establishment.

Elizabeth said...

I totally agree that restaurants can do so much to make a dining experience a pleasure.....or a pain.
Simple courtesy is easy and a delight to encounter --beats me why some people can act in a surly manner in the 'hospitality' industry!
The staff should just be attentive and get the timing right.
I used to eat out quite often with a friend who WAS a restaurant critic. She could never let the places know who she was..... such fun making mental the newspaper paid for the food!

Share my Garden said...

Dear Weaver, you have neglected to tell us where you ate your excellent lunch, and as I shall be coming to the Dales sometime soon, I would love to know!
I look at your blog to keep an eye on the weather; once it looks as though it's warming up a bit I shall be heading home, back up north!

Mary said...

We enjoy eating out now and then, especially in the company of good friends. We have a huge array of excellent restaurants in our area, some being beyond our price range, others good and inexpensive. However, I definitely prefer eating at home, vegetarian dishes I've prepared myself, great salads, and yes, I can make a wicked wild mushroom risotto!!

Your find sounds wonderful - I think it would become my favorite if I lived close by - cleanliness and great service being as important as the quality of the food! As it's 2 yrs. since I was home, not sure what the dining prices are now - but must say, 28 pounds sounds expensive for lunch compared to here. That's more like what we'd pay for a nice dinner with a glass of wine each. Guess I'd better start saving my pennies for the trip home in May, lol!!