I have decided to grab my career by the throat and teach it another language. Luckily, or sadly, depending on your level of cynicism, a great aunt died recently after a tragic skiing accident at the age of eighty-five. Well, more accurately she was hit by a lorry which slide off the snow covered road and ran into her while she was walking through her garden.
Every cloud has a silver lining and she left me a certain amount of the sweet stuff, otherwise known as money. I have decided to leave my job in the samples department at Webster’s Designer Fabrics, (“Your home is our gallery”) as I’m now free to live my lifelong dream and open up my own restaurant. The name of the restaurant will be “Eggs” because that is what I will be serving. You can have them poached, boiled, scrambled or fried on brown or white bread, but if the dish you require doesn’t largely come from a chicken, as opposed to being made from it, and involve shelling an egg or two, don’t bother to ask for it in my dining area.
I consider it a brilliant idea, a view shared by my hamster George who went into a frenzy of wheel spinning when I gave him the news. In a normal restaurant, people dawdle over the menu, wondering whether to plump for the fried avocado in a plum and radish jus or settle for the safety of a steak, medium rare, blue or any other colour they can think of and with a portion of low-fat chips. The waiter/waitress then spends a lot of time shuffling from one leg to another while you change your mind, go back to your original choice and then ask if they have any crab on the menu, which a simple look at the sheet in your hands, otherwise known as said menu would reveal they didn’t. This all has a severe impact on the time to taste ratio, and stops the till ringing.
At my restaurant every dish will come in at a frolic under ten pounds, but seem good value for money on account of the small salad set to the side of the egg, giving the whole plate the “Nouvelle cuisine” aura so popular with fine diners. To add a whiff of sophistication the waiter always asks if you would like your “oeufs” rare or well-done. After all, subtlety is everything in the world of excellence, even within a limited menu.
In its early days and, owing to financial restraints, I will keep the role of “Front of house,” Waiter and cook to myself, thus keeping overheads to a minimum. Florence, Jessie, Caroline and Frieda, my pet chickens, will be clucking away in the yard at the back of the eatery, ensuring the principle ingredients are as fresh as can be: Let us picture the scene.
A smooth dater with a lady in tow enters my currently empty restaurant and peers at the cleverly lit interior. “Have we booked sir?” I ask, smiling and displaying a reasonable number of freshly brushed teeth. “No.” says the candid gentleman.
“I think we can cram you in, if you’ve finished eating by eight” I say, displaying more teeth and raising a well-groomed eyebrow. The smart couple are guided to the table by the window and settle themselves down as I hand out the menu. “The gent looks at it, and says, “Fried for me and lightly poached for the lady I think,” giving her a brief nod to indicate that she has been fully engaged in his decision. I pretend to write down their order before walking over to the kitchen door and shouting out. “One Feried egg for the gent and a lightly poached number for the lady.” I pause to grin comfortingly at my guests and then walk into the kitchen ready to cook the required meal. As they wait patiently in the restaurant area , Grieg’s “Death of Ace” plays gently in the background leading a certain solemnity to that moment when I subject Frieda’s gentle offerings to the brutal experience of the frying pan. A short period of mourning follows.
Soon I am back at their table, grinning in my friendly way and saying, “One fried and one lightly poached was it sir?” before placing the eggs in front of them. Extra parsley has been supplied, along with the salad, to indicate they are already one of my favourite clients. These little touches, as we know, mark the distinctive line between success and failure in a new business. With any luck I should be off to the Bentley showroom in time for Christmas. How do they like their eggs I wonder?