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Piss-up in a brewery, anyone?

September 29, 2008

I guess it was pretty obvious which restaurant would be closed last week – from his hand-crafted ‘fliers’ to asking punters to leave tips, Mike just wasn’t cut out to be a restaurateur. Nevertheless, there was a part of me that wanted him and Harriet to stay, if only for the superb comedy value he provided. Harriet (she of the missing top lip and magical ability to talk without moving her lips) is a saint for not screaming at him throughout their whole time. Or maybe that says more about her lack of personality than sainthood.

I’m also gutted they’ve gone because it means there’ll be less sweeping, luscious shots of my glorious Oxford. So I savoured last week’s episodes, which gorged on the city (that’s CITY, voiceover lady, not town… Tsk) like Mr Creosote. But first, pigs.

Each team were given half a pig to serve to their punters. The idea is that you “respect the food” and thus, points would be taken away for wastage.

The runner up in this week’s George Bush award for ineptitude was The Gallery’s Ali, who came very close if not for the fact that he’s clearly being emotionally abused by his ‘partner’ James and I therefore felt sorry for him. Their week started off with yet another lovers’ tiff when James wouldn’t let Ali play with the pig in the kitchen. “I just want his support!” sniffed Ali. Don’t we all, Ali. Don’t we all…

Another one who clearly knows bugger all about marketing (see Mike later), Ali advertised his pork specials by… um… standing outside his off-the-beaten-track, you’d-only-go-to-it-if-you-knew-it-was-there, high-end restaurant. Still, he managed to rally his Front of House troops to perform their best to the four bookings they’d had that evening by bossing at them Brent-style to remember the cutlery (a mistake he himself made the week before) while texting on his phone. “Yeah, so really important to remember cutlery, people…” It says a lot when your staff (and you) need to be reminded of cutlery. But Ali does win the Jade Goody Professionalism of the Week plaque for slagging the chef off in front of his staff, and for not knowing what’s on his menu when Sarah asked what was in the soup. Good one, Ali.

Over in Tellytubbyland (aka Oxford, with shots of the greenest grass and the bluest skies, you’d be forgiven for thinking the cameraman had stumbled across the set – to be fair, it is/was filmed very near the Shire), Mike is finding the whole experience more difficult than he first thought. Yes… That’s because the uptight little sod is no doubt usually far too busy sitting in restaurants, stuffing his tight lips and being waited on hand and foot to actually notice good service when he gets it, than actually running something worth any value himself.

His idea of PR was to print ‘fliers’ from his home computer, cut then with a butter knife and then stand outside his restaurant for five (sorry, seven, I’ll give him a break!) minutes. Now, I used to have a job handing out fliers in Oxford, and actually the shop where I worked was on the same road as The Blue Goose (tucked away down a side alley off The High). Even I knew not to stand there as you’d get bugger all traffic. I headed straight for the main shopping streets, the tourist areas and the bus stations. And this was when I was 15. And I’m stupid.

Aaaanyway, not only does Mike pave the way for success with his quality advertising and marketing strategy, but when he does get a few people through the door, how does he greet them? With, “Oh, hello! Welcome to the Blue Goose, would you like to sit here, Madam?” Of course not! Mike, all socially awkward and rude exclaims, “Welcome to the madhouse!”
“Oh, god!” utters one guest, shocked at his utter unprofessionalism.
“Yeah!” Yells Mike. “Oh god!”
Oh, and this is before he sets up yet another pointless numbering system for ordering that predictably goes horribly wrong. I can’t quite understand how he found the whole process so difficult. In fact, the voice over kindly explained it all in the first episode: orders are taken by the waiter, put into the till, then sent to the kitchen to be prepared. It really can’t get any easier than that! Oh, and if he couldn’t get any more inept, Mike actually asked one client for a tip. My toenails recoiled in horror.

Elsewhere, and the Welsh Wok/Welsh Dragon (why didn’t they just call it the Dragon – both cultures have links to the beast?) served up massive portions in a bid to get rid of their pork. Shame they didn’t realise this would mean bugger all profit though, eh.

Over at Ray Whites and Chris and Caroline’s straight talking ethos is abandoned while people tuck into “Crispy Pork Salad” or pig brain to you and me. They were told off for misleading their diners, but I reckon if you don’t ask, it’s your problem right? Ignorance is bliss and all that…

Oh and over in North London (that’s NORTH London, famously populated by Jews) Team Lovely (Russel and Michele) managed the best results of the lot, getting rid of the most pork (that’s PORK) and making the best profit…

And so to the challenge, and it was Mike and Harriet (of course) against James and Ali (of course) against Caroline and Chris (er…). Each got an Oxford college to cater for that evening. From this bit, we learned that it’s much better to go to Wadham college as they can wear what they like to dinner, whereas snooty Oriel and Trinity students have to wear silly gowns. From late service to not serving different food to the top table (duh!), each team managed to botch it up somehow. But in the end, the steamed Lamb didn’t go down very well with Ray’s palette and so rude Mike and magically lipped Harriet had to go.

It’s OK though, I hear Harriet’s carving out a new career as a ventriloquist.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2008 8:29 pm

    Great post, I couldn’t have written it better myself (although I am working on a post about the first few weeks of the show). I’ll also be missing the shots of Oxford, I still miss it…

  2. September 30, 2008 9:23 am

    Cheers Karura – feel free to leave yer link when you finish your post.

  3. Helen permalink
    October 2, 2008 5:17 am

    Just a quick comment. Nel’s actually made the most money and sold the most pig!!!
    As is ever the case with reality TV – it is far from real and all in the edit. Winners pre-determined before the start and the edit is done retrospectively. As a couples “turn” to leave appraches the edit turns them sour. Until then any couple doing well is just side lined and largely ignored.

  4. October 2, 2008 8:48 am

    Hmmm maybe I need to watch the ep again – I thought last week was Team Flower Power’s first RotW win…

    But I couldn’t disagree more about negativity. From the first ep Team Flower were portrayed negatively (with Michele’s annoying giggling, ditziness) and yet they’ve quietly just got on with things and are sailing thru.

    Also, if being shown in a negative light means you’ll be out that week then there’d only be two couples left in the show and we’re only on week three! Most of the couples have made major cock ups so far. That’s the beauty of the series – you get to see those with talent learning the business, and those with the business skills turning into great restaurateurs…

  5. October 2, 2008 6:35 pm

    http://galaxycats.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/the-restaurant-2008-part-one/ shameless (but invited) plug of my post. This week’s episodes will be covered separately- I have much to say about Ray Whites’ Mexican night.

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