Dear restaurant owners

I love eating out, I really enjoy the whole experience; the food, of course, the drinks, the company (usually). I also appreciate the whole visual experience, the decor, the menu, the details like nice cutlery, crockery, napkins… I’m a sucker for kitchen/dining ware, almost as bad as stationery.

Anyhoo, it takes very little to make or break a pleasant meal out. Sometimes a tiny detail, a small attention from the staff, or a surprisingly nice bit of food can turn an otherwise average meal into a really nice one. And a stand-offish waiter, a crappy toilet or a disappointing dish can easily ruin the whole thing.

In fact that happened to me just the other day. I took Husband to what was my favourite Indian restaurant in London. I’d been there a couple of times before and remembered the place as friendly, with delicious food and generous helpings. A few years had gone past since my last visit, and, well, maybe it was just a bad day, but things were rather disappointing.

The waiter looking after us would literally not crack a single smile. He was almost rude, and only seemed interested in selling us more food. We almost got into an argument about the fact that we were only ordering one portion of rice for 2. That’s what we always do, we weren’t that hungry and Indian food is filling as it is, but he insisted that it wasn’t enough. And once we finally managed to get that through to him, he went on to suggest extra veg, potatoes, etc. until we got rather annoyed. To top the whole thing, the food was rather dry and stodgy. What a shame.

One of the things I miss about eating out in France is the basics that pretty much every restaurant will provide you with. A jug of water and a basket of bread. It’s so simple, and relatively low cost, but I find it to be just a basic courtesy. Having to request water – specifying tap water so as not to get charged for expensive bottled water and being made to look terribly cheap – is a most agonising thing. Let alone the lengths you have to go to to get bread. And keep it until the end of the main course. Seriously, try it. It’s virtually impossible! Much to poor Husband’s dismay.

So please, restaurant owners, if any of you happen to read this, try it, you might just get happier customers (and bigger tips).

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