REGULAR readers of this column will know that last week I introduced you to one of my clients who had opened a restaurant down here over a year ago and was going through a few problems.
We established that one of his problems was the pairing of his chef with a menu that he had designed, leaving the chef with no option but to serve what he was asked to.
I explained to the client that this was probably stunting the growth of the business.
So last week we sat down with the chef and started to go through the menu to see where we could make savings on costs as well as getting the chef’s input as to the type of food that he felt he excelled at.
The four-hour session was very illuminating not least for the client. For the first time he was beginning to see where the chef was coming from. While there is no problem in serving classic dishes – known nowadays as ‘retro’ – they are becoming exceptionally popular, but there is still room for lighter modern dishes in this health and body consciousness world.
We decided to mix the two styles. Starters such as ‘Wild Mushrooms on Ciabatta with a Poached Egg and Crispy Pancetta, Tuna Tartare with Wasabi Crème Fraîche’ now sit on the same menu as a ‘Classic King Prawn and Lobster Cocktail and Moules Marinière.’ The client loved his classic Tourenedos Rossini, but the chef complained that if he was going to do it, it should be done with fresh foie gras and truffle, not pate and a button mushroom!! So the five star classic fillet steak dish holds pride of place as a Chef’s Speciality along side the chef’s own creation of ‘Roast Tranche of Turbot with Fennel Croquettes, Spinach and Spring Onions with a Pernod Veloute.’
The menu was now starting to fall into place. The ability of the chef to embrace the owner’s desire to keep some of his favourite dishes and the owner’s ability to allow the chef to create dishes more in keeping with his personal style meant that dialogue and creativity were having a positive result.
With a new design of the menu itself, making it more readable and appealing, we were on our way to creating the changes that we all felt would point the restaurant in the direction that all parties were happy with.
Next we have to look at the presentation of the dishes and the costings to ensure profitability. After that, the restaurant itself will need freshening up, something we will have to do without spending too much money. But the menu and the décor must suit each other. Then we will be looking at the wine menu, staff and uniforms as well as training. It’s never a quick fix, but a carefully planned redevelopment. After all we are not reinventing the wheel, just making sure that they are on tight and have sufficient air in the tyres to ensure a smooth ride!!
• Among services being offered to cats (yes cats!) at Malaysia’s Catzonia – the ‘world’s first’ five-star hotel for cats are spas, grooming services and temperature controlled rooms!
Manned by feline-loving staff, the 35-bedroom cattery in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur promises to pamper pets while their owners are away. They even offer a ‘dating service’ for the female species!
These pampered pussies can stay in one of four room categories, including a VVIC (Very Very Important Cat) room – the hotel’s most luxurious offering. The VVIC room can fit up to 10 adult cats (or one mother cat and her kittens) and comes with three ‘king’-sized beds, a mini-playground, and a separate toilet. These special suites also come with CCTV, allowing anxious cat owners to monitor their pets 24 hours a day by using a phone app.
There are ‘lesser’ rooms, which can accommodate between three and seven cats, which come with either a ‘queen,’ ‘double’ or ‘single’ bed and up to three feeding and cleaning sessions per day. Some have shower facilities.
THE VVIC and VIC can also indulge in a range of grooming options including a ‘medicated grooming’ service, which uses a special shampoo that helps cure cats’ skin and clear out the fleas.
The cost of a stay between three hours and a year at Catzonia is priced from £4.50 per night.
A catalogue of services is of course available and every whim will be catered for. Prices vary according to category of room. This could be the catalyst for many more feline hotels to come. I wonder if they will open one in Cataluñia? (This column is not just thrown together dear reader)
• ON THAT NOTE I will bid you farewell until next week and should aspiring restaurateurs need some help or advice, please do not hesitate to contact me. A toast to Good Food, Good Wine and Good friends.