Monday, 6 August 2012

Two pieces of research crossed my inbox - Inapub August 2012

Two pieces of research crossed my inbox within hours of each other recently. One was a medical study suggesting that a cup of coffee a day can help combat skin cancer. The other was a survey by Livebookings showing that most customers tip less than 10 per cent of the bill.

I should, of course be grateful enough to someone helping me combat cancer to slip them a decent tip. However, I’ve been reminded twice recently of the old industry cliché that “coffee is the final part of the meal, it’s what customers will go away remembering.” 

In a busy central London pub at lunchtime, we were served two cups of coffee which, while retaining just enough residual warmth to technically avoid being labelled ‘cold’, in no way justified their inclusion in the ‘hot drinks’ section of the menu.

When challenged, our server confirmed that we’d had the last two cups from a pot. She bought us replacements, but her mood suggested she thought we would swill down our cold coffee and clear off . 

A few days later, test-marketing venues for a family birthday meal, we had lunch in a Surrey village pub. Despite the promise of table service, each stage of the meal required a walk to the bar. When I ordered coffees, the barman told me they were very busy and coffee would be bought to our table as soon as possible. 

Ten minutes later, I wandered back and the barman pointed to a tray with two coffees sitting on the bar. Once I’d ferried them back to our table, we decided that they were – just – the right side of drinkable temperature-wise. Of course, our quality threshold may have been quite low by that stage. 

These pubs were run by Geronimo Inns and Mitchells & Butlers, both of whom make strong claims for their customer service. I know things don’t always go to plan but in neither instance, whatever the health benefits of the coffee, was I tempted to leave a tip.

On the Menu this month: My family enjoys a carvery, and whenever we visit I think I’m the only one who looks at the alternatives available. The summer menu at M&B’s Toby Carvery has a ‘fancy something different?’ section that features interesting sounding choices, including chicken tikka salad and wensleydale crusted hake fillet. Of course, I had the carvery. Doesn’t everyone?

This Pub Food with Porter column orginally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Inapub.

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