6 Jan 2008

Water on Tap

BROADLY SPEAKING, is our wine selection becoming polarised? Like flat pack furniture versus well made, friend for life? -One has a sheen that fast fades; another improves, gaining in character...
I visited 'Patio' yesterday, clean, cosy Polish restaurant off Shepherd's Bush Green. Piano, plants, real flowers, piped Slavic hits and pretty side plates. Complimentary vodka of your choice (I had Bison Grass) within the three course £15.75 menu, whisked to and from paper-clothed tables. Excellent potato pancakes, pert cheesecake, a reasonable wine list (although only generics are given, e.g. 'Crozes-Hermitage', rather than producer and vintage) And something about Liebfraumilch...? Also, stressfully terse service, Tetris-crammed tables; one couple perched atop (psychologically) loo view steps. Embarrassing. A place so beloved of critics that they would even (deep breath) spend their 'own money' there [Fay Maschler]. But basic points need resolving along with broad strokes from the paint pot of charm. But overall, I liked it.
If I owned a restaurant, I would implement the following, as part of the deal:
  • Free-flowing filtered water
  • Thoughtful selection of warm breads
  • An effective Amuse-Bouche, elegantly explained
  • Integral 'side orders'
  • Petit-fours with coffee
Why? -This shows willing! The diner, charmed, financial claws loosened by these concilliatory gestures, will probably end up spending more on wine and tell their friends. They may even return...
My latest piece for the Southwark News, 'When Big is Beautiful' may be found on the MAIN SITE.

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