Opinion: No gimmicks, let's keep our meals simple

We all love a good meal out, whether we are dining in our favourite fish and chip cafe or maybe the once a year anniversary treat.

Saturday, 24th June 2017, 10:00 am
Nicky Knight

Sometimes we might just drop on a tucked away bistro or just be down the pub for a pie and a pint.

We go get our drinks or, of course, in the more refined establishment have our drinks order taken whilst we have a ‘comfy’ seat then we are presented with the menus.

As the owner of a restaurant I am a fine one to talk, hypocrite springs rapidly to mind, because I need to make the food sound interesting and exciting. But please, I ask you, the customer needs to have a little clue as to what they may be choosing to eat!

I am extremely proud of the clientele my hotel brings in, I would like to call you all genuine, hard working, decent people who basically want a good well prepared, generously sized, freshly cooked meal that resembles something similar to what is described as on the menu.

We have only had a couple of occasions, I am pleased to say, where someone has actually ‘well that wasn’t what I was expecting’ (one being a chicken salad, and guess what, on the menu it did say ‘corn-fed chicken breast on green leaf salad.’ Yes, a chicken salad!

Sometimes you could honestly just give up. My point is in the hotel and restaurant trade , chefs, whether they be fine dining, rosette or good pub chefs still want to show their wares and experience, and the first selling point is their menu. These are the unsung heroes who very rarely get to meet the people eating their food, they genuinely have a love for food and many have trained for years to get to where they are and I am sure I am their worst nightmare.

The chef will have a signature dish, something he is extremely proud of but on paper many of us normal folk would not have a clue what it is. The latest trend is to ‘deconstruct’ a classic, basically take a good old favourite dish and present it differently.

A while ago we were serving a Lemon Tart, but this lemon tart had 11 different taste elements on the plate, many of which were listed on the menu in bullet points, let’s be honest, we would have all become bored reading it before we even knew what it was.

It was absolutely delicious and made and ‘constructed’ by a Michelin-awarded pastry chef, every taste was a real sensation but did it sell out, no! Do we, as customers, want to ask the waiter what it is we are ordering or de we feel slightly embarrassed at not knowing.

This was a lesson learned here for me and the menu was quickly simplified and yes, then we sold out.

You know where you are with home-made Lemon Tart.

What about a ‘Deconstructed Eton Mess’, why can’t it be an already constructed one, there is nothing nicer than fresh berries, cream and meringue, why change something that is perfect!!!

We tried it, it didn’t work, the saying ‘if it isn’t broken then why mend it’ does spring to mind.

I appreciate we have to all move with the times, keep up with the new trends but not to the embarrassment of our clientele.

We introduced a new menu here last week and are currently in the process of our trial period to see how it goes.

The chef gave his menu to the admin department with all the correct terminology and bullet pointed and then we change and ‘simplify’ it, much to his dismay. But would any non foodie person know what Pomme Anna are or Pois a la Francais and these are just the simple ones.

All I am basically saying is, let people know what they are getting, no games or gimmicks and definitely let’s not make anyone feel inferior or out of place.