Tom Parker Bowles: how to put a critic off his lunch
Food writer Tom Parker Bowles has said that his three simple requests in restaurants, for good service, good ingredients and good food, are frequently marred by a litany of events.
"It starts with the arrival, when I'm asked: ‘Do you have a reservation?' when the restaurant is clearly empty," he said in his after-dinner speech at the Master Innholders' General Managers' Conference at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
"It makes me furious. Then there is the chat about the restaurant's concept, philosophy or theme."
Parker Bowles, who is restaurant critic of the Mail of Sunday and food editor of Esquire, also takes issue with the insistence of some restaurants to provide him with a selection of "fripperies and fancies" once they recognise who he is.
"It would seem churlish to refuse, even though all I wanted was one course. In some cases the kitchen has sent out the entire menu and I've ended up leaving the restaurant groaning, knowing that my lunch plans have been unnecessarily ruined for the entire week."
The arrival of the food often brings on more "chat" about the food "involving an explanation about what I've ordered and a lecture about the breed of cow that has been raised to supply the restaurant".
Parker Bowles ended his list of irritations concerning restaurants with a plea for the wine he has ordered "not to be placed in a different postcode" and to not leave the tip box blank when a service charge has already been added.
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