Friday, May 11, 2007

Jus Right!

Getting the gravy right is tough enough in an owner run restaurant which is why I have grave gravy reservations about those international chains with branches in London, New York, Singapore and Twisselton in the Dale. How on earth can the chef, who is, after all, the reason a restaurant is good or bad, be in all those places at once?
Of course he isn’t, and therefore your overpriced food comes from the sort of formula used by Marks and Spencer or Sainsburys, who probably do it better anyway.
One such chain is that of Mr. Chow, and it seems that the only thing worse than eating in one of his Chinese restaurants is working in one. For Mr. Chow has a technique for handling his staff that makes Sir Alan Sugar look like Mother Teresa. Now being sued by a former employee for this novel technique, it inspired me to take a look at his website, which I can safely assume was authored by Mr. Chow himself.
Now I’m very fond of good Chinese food but at Mr. Chow’s inflated prices, I think I would lose my appetite. Actually, I lost my appetite just reading his self promotional message before I even got to the price bit.
I’m picking on the poor man but, in truth, few of these chains, often with a name chef at their nominal head, produce anything more than ho-hum food, which is, as you know, a traditional Chinese dish.
In our village, we have one restaurant and each day the owner/chef prepares one lunchtime dish. Not much choice you might say, but it is a dish he knows he can do supremely well. If he fails, his clientele, who pack the place at lunchtime, just won’t go back. Unlike a London or New York “celebrity” restaurant, it’s a place to eat well, not to be seen.
Just before midday, the plat du jour is displayed on a chalkboard propped up in the doorway to entice the local workers who still, thank Heaven, take a leisurely two hour lunch.
Mind you, there’s a bit of dearth of stars of stage screen and television on show there but at 12 Euros for four courses, it would be churlish to complain.
And, unlike Mr. Chow, he seems to have few staff problems. This may be because his staff are his wife and family.
It seems to me that this is the way to run a restaurant.



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