For the beer festival we dumb down a little. We reduce the fanciness of our food, still maintain a huge level of provenance and quality, but just not quite so eclectic or, perhaps, poncy. I worry that it does not show off our normal service and some may come back and expect this dumbed down style.
We are now returning to normal, but there are still a few beer festival stragglers. I mentioned about Sunday afternoon being a nice session with regular attendees of the festival coming in for a few drinks. One couple also booked to return last night for dinner in the restaurant. As returning customers often only return once a year I sometimes worry if we have changed too much between their visits. Not so it would seem. When I asked the waiting staff if everybody was happy I got the reply "Yes, table 30 said it's excellent, and would expect nothing less of you chef" Well I can't pretend not to be pleased at that.
It was busy for a Monday night. Busy for us anyway. The next few weeks look like they are also going to be pleasantly busy. Although the recession is effecting our options on credit and finance, it doesn't seem to be having a massive effect on trade. In fact, I think it might be slightly up, but I get optimistic every year only for something to go wrong. The last two years it was the weather.
When the style of business you dream up starts to take a life of it's own, when it shows some signs of maturing and becoming autonomous from the instigator, then it's much easier to take criticism on the chin. Yesterday I got an email from a potential customer who has been here some years ago. It consisted of a complaint about the food policy being "elitist". I guess they'd checked out our web site. We're probably guilty as charged, and damn proud of it. Anyway, what's the point of me doing steak pie when there are two pubs down the road that also do very good versions?
The picture is of me flambeing a steak during last years beer festival. We set up a kitchen in the marquee and I attempt to burn the temporary structure to the ground. So far, every year, I have failed to require the fire brigade. The table is in fact a slate from an old pool table that long since got past economic repair. Slate is great because it is non combustible. I bought new burners this year which clearly transmit heat down to the slate a little more. Halfway through the first lunch service there was a loud crack as the slate de-laminated. For the sake of safety we quickly replaced it with a stainless steel bench from the main kitchen.