During our opening week we received a visit from one of London's notorious food critics. This was the result. 2 stars was not what we were hoping for but it's a tough and subjective industry where opinions can be difficult to take sometimes. A wiser man than either of us noted the following:
1) The fact that a food critic would even want to come to eat at a pace that is, as yet untried by most, should be something to be proud of
2) We've got a great following and nothing but hard work will get us moving back on the path we were on
I might sound like a bit of a wet sponge by saying this BUT both A and myself woke up last Wednesday morning to this news and quite frankly had a pretty miserable day as a result. Everything seemed greyer (ok it was already grey outside, this London summer is struggling here!) and food tasted much flatter. I'm pretty sure that the birds were singing a much sadder song than they would have done normally! It's a bit of a sob story but we're not sad anymore. In fact, the following days saw us toughen up and restrap up our boots in response to the brief review from Fay Maschler in last week's Evening Standard. It's easy to get bogged-down in great feedback, news and reviews just to find yourself deflated as if punched in the n**s by an undesired response. But we've all got to learn to take what we've been given and roll with it; we're trying to create a business that just happens to be a passion project...not the other way around!
I make this distinction because I really want everyone leaving our latest venture happy and excited about their next visit, not feeling like they've had an experience they would much rather forget very quickly. In order for us to survive the business needs to work and in order for the business to work our guests must ALWAYS leave happy, no matter what! No one uses words to hurt, shock or disappoint (at least I hope not!) so there must be something to take away from this experience. A few changes (that were already planned!) have been implemented into our menu and now, as always, we have learned a bit more about how best to keep future guests happy! That’s not to say special treatment as such, but really being able to adapt to how different guests enjoy their dinner is one of the fundamentals of ensuring ANY guest leaves on a high.
In all honesty, this is the first of many speed bumps on our road and we have been lucky enough to have received a whole host of other amazing reviews and words of encouragement so far. Our whole team are really excited about what’s to come and with our first menu change coming in just about two weeks time, I know that I’ve got lots more cooking in me and am raring to go! R.
Check out some of what others have been saying about us lately:
Ben Norum's Evening Standard Column
Just Opened London
Kitchen Communications (Our Awesome PR Team!)
Condé Nast Traveller
About Time Magazine