Rhiannon Harries: What to have? Why not start with service with a smile...

Share
Related Topics

One area of my finances which I can't say has taken too severe a hit in the recession (unless, of course, you happen to be the person with whom I discuss the state of my bank account at NatWest) is my "entertainment" budget. By which, I'm afraid I mean what I spend on the ephemeral pleasures of eating and drinking out, rather than anything with a lasting intellectual or spiritual legacy, such as the theatre or a good book.

If anything, I feel less guilty these days about forgoing a supermarket meal deal in favour of letting someone else do the hard work thanks to the slew of discounts that even the most chichi of establishments have been forced to embrace.

Pre-crunch, I was suspicious of (OK, maybe a little snobby about) restaurant deals. Going to a snazzy eatery just wasn't as much fun if you had to declare your discount voucher before you'd sat down and then had to choose from a limited menu. And surely your obvious penury would make you a second-class citizen for any waiting staff with their eye on a decent tip.

When slashing prices suddenly became standard practice, however, there was less chance of feeling like a poor relation. You could have your half-price cake and eat it. Except, recently, I've started to think that maybe you can't.

It's not the quality of the food that has disappointed, but the grumpiness with which it is being served. Maybe it's just summer malaise that has turned many of the waiting staff I've encountered in the past few months into die-hard misanthropes, but I'd hazard a guess that as tips have dried up, so has their enthusiasm.

At a local café, a cosily styled place where one might expect to find Juliette Binoche serving up life-affirming treats, I made the mistake of asking how much a cup of tea was. "It's a pound. For now!" snapped the owner menacingly, apparently outraged that I was taking advantage of what she considered a knock-down price.

But it was on a late-afternoon visit to a posh deli that I witnessed the apparent nadir of service. "You'll have to have a paper cup because we're closing!" barked the barista. We realised we had got off lightly, as he proceeded to hang a large blackboard on the door to put off further customers which, like something from a surrealist play, said in foot-high letters, "NO!"

No matter the quality, or indeed price, of the food or drink on offer, it's service that decides whether a meal is an enjoyable or hellish experience. The British have never been celebrated for their attitudes to paying customers, but if this is the shape of things to come, we might even outstrip our Parisian neighbours in the contempt stakes. We got the Olympics – surely this is one contest we really don't want to win.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game