I took a blogger to dinner last night. "You're not going to blog about this are you?" he said.
We didn't want a big dinner. Beer and a pie, or something, that'd do. So I took him somewhere I've always heard good things about, but never been. Food appeared only to be served downstairs, which was a bit of a warren and not as quaintly medieval as upstairs is supposed to be. It took us a few seconds to work out that the bar was also the food counter because there was no signage of any kind, but I eventually spotted some telltale ketchup sachets. The menu was on the table, with some impressive-looking pies and suet puddings, so selections were made and I joined the queue. Long queue too. But there was only one bloke behind the bar, and at peak time on a Friday evening he was struggling with demand. Beer and food, beer, food, queue shuffled forward. Wine by credit card, beer and food, queue shuffled forward. Group of four who couldn't make up their mind... and after ten minutes I was finally at the front. At which point the barman walked to the other end of the bar and served a later arrival instead. More wine, a dropped glass, and now surely it was my turn. Because that's how it works in any civilised pub on the planet with attentive staff, isn't it? Assuming they've been paying due attention, the person who's been waiting the longest should always be the next to get served. But no, some extrovert bloke who'd walked up to the bar two minutes earlier waved his finger at the barman and the barman immediately served him instead. I considered leaping over the counter and smearing a twenty pound note across the barman's face, not because it would have helped but because it would have made me feel less cross. But instead I muttered my discontent in his general direction and we gave up and walked out. This particular pub may indeed be lovely, and its food delicious, but I have no plans ever to go back.
I took a blogger to dinner last night. "I'm getting hungry now," he said.
We didn't want a big dinner. Beer and pasta, or something, that'd do. So I took him somewhere I've seen various London bloggers write about, but only because they were paid to. We were welcomed at the door by the maître d', and he led us swiftly inside. The restaurant was fairly full but not overly so, with several groups and couples enjoying a mid-evening Italian meal. We passed those near the window, we passed those further inside, and we carried on towards the bowels of the restaurant. There were some nice-looking seats over to one side under a display made from old bus blinds, but we didn't stop there either. Instead we were taken right to the very back next to the kitchen where there were three empty rows of tables. Not to the first, nor the second but to the third and final row, and to a table up at one end nearest to the kitchen door. It felt like we'd been placed in some kind of social exclusion zone, or medical quarantine, cut off from our fellow diners by some considerable distance. The intermediate seats later filled up, but even by the time we'd finished our panettone and ice cream (yum) we were still the only diners on the back row. It's possible we'd been placed there because the kitchen provides a bit of a floor show, and the waiters thought we'd be the only people in the restaurant to appreciate it. But on paying the bill and walking out, I couldn't help noticing something peculiar. Every other dining party (and there were at least forty) contained at least one woman. There were plenty of men dotted around the place, but without exception there was always at least one female at every table. Had we been dumped at the back because we were two blokes? We weren't in trainers or anything, and I was even wearing cufflinks, but maybe we were lacking a chromosome somewhere. Our service had been impeccable throughout, and the food was molto bene, but I don't think I'll be rushing back.
I took a blogger to dinner last night. "You're going to blog about this aren't you?" he said.