“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top Tips For Restaurant Patrons, Part 2

I have been working at Sissinghurst now for about 4 months and during that time i have encountered all manner of customers. We get a lot of tourists as it is a National Trust place, mainly from theContinent and The Americas, and also a fair amount from Australia. It's also a place that is set up in a kind of cafeteria style, where you grab yourself a tray, go along the line, select a drink, maybe a salad item, or soup, a hot main dish, perhaps, then a coffee or tea, then you come to cakes and desserts, and finally arrive at the till with your tray, whereupon the till operator (who, by the way, is not a thickie who just started working there this morning) will ring up your purchases. In this unique environment one encounters behaviour that one would not necessarily find in every restaurant, and so I feel it is in order that I should provide a list of do's and don'ts to our clientèle, so that when they arrive at Sissinghurst, they will be prepared for the experience.

  • To all visitors from Europe: Familiarize yourself with a few basic phrases in the English language before stepping out your front door. This will stand you in good stead when asking for such basics as the location of the toilet, the sugar, the milk, or what have you. I for one am sick of telling people where these things are. (Trouble is, because it's National Trust, they will not place huge signs pointing out their locations because it would not be in keeping with the general tweedy English atmos).
  • To all visitors, even the English ones: Familiarize yourself with English money before you board that coach or get into that motorhome. This will save time and aggravation at the till.
  • No, we do not accept the bloody Euro.
  • Sugar is on the tables.
  • The sign saying CAUTION - Hot Surface is there for a damn good reason. The people who serve your hot lunches to you behind that sign do not want you to burn your fingers and sue us for negligence, which is why when you try to help yourself to the bloody vegetables, they get a little arsey.
  • Lunch is served between 12pm and 2:30pm. Y'know... lunch time. Coming in at nearly 3pm and expecting lunch is a bit ridiculous, folks.
  • The cooler that displays the salads can only hold so many, so if there aren't enough salads for your liking, be patient. The person you see frantically making salads behind there is going as fast as they can.
  • Sugar is on the damn tables. OK?
  • An Americano, by its very nature, is black. Do not offend my sensibilities by asking for a white Americano. That's just a watered-down latte - why drink it?
  • The milk is on the counter next to where you get the blasted coffee. 
  • Please learn to distinguish between the phrases 'Lavatories' and 'Fire Exit'.
  • Please forgive us English people for thinking that anyone who wants to drink a beer at breakfast time is a little odd. I know we sell it, but it's still weird.
  • No, we don't have any bloody ashtrays.
  • Quit moving the tables around.
  • There are four choices when it comes to what to do with your tray: Put it on one of the three clearing trolleys, located outside, under the stairs, and in the corner of the dining room, or leave the damn thing on the table and we will get it. Do not wander aimlessly into the dining room and hand it to the person on the till. Do not put it on the shelf inside the door marked 'Clean Trays Only'. Do not move it to an adjacent table, either.
  • We close at 5:30. Wandering in at 5:27 and expecting a full-on English cream tea blowout and to sit there for an hour is just plain rude.
So there we are. I hope that clears up a few issues. I expect I'll think of more, so look out for another instalment. Thank you for your cooperation.


  1. Hey Jeff...where can I find the sugar? ;)

  2. I had one of my staff tell me that a woman came up to them and in a strong Germanic tone, say "I need to ask you where the sugar?". This was on the same day a Dutch lady came up to me and said, "Excuse me, I would like to go to the toilet, please." I thought, don't let me stop you, luv.


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