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

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power