Monday, 11 May 2009

A full tummy and a smile

For those of us currently living off our savings treats have to be rationed these days as the returns from main-stream investments tend to be negative, it makes treats even more of a treat than they used to be and causes us to be more discerning in our choice. Being a plump boy, my treats tend to involve food, and at the moment they alternate between Indian and Thai. Saturday was a Thai evening.

Within walking distance of FatBigot Towers there are three Thai restaurants, all of which have experienced my custom at some time but these days I only go to one of them. One of the others is an extraordinary place. I only went there once although I go past it frequently and it never seems to have any customers. My single visit provided me with the worst meal I have ever had the misfortune to pay for, an overcooked starter and bland but decidedly unpleasant main course. It was reasonably cheap by the general way of these things but grossly overpriced for what it was. Never will I darken their door again.

The second is relatively new and quite nicely appointed, I have been there three times. Their food is good but they have a skeleton staff and delays are not unusual. They are noticeably more expensive than the one on my blacklist and a little cheaper than the third. The third is in a different league. It is the most expensive of the three, although not by much, large and extremely well presented with a magnificently stocked bar and waiters and waitresses constantly buzzing about in the background. To my taste the food at the second is marginally better than at the third, yet the third is my establishment of choice in these straightened times.

If a business wants my money it has to pry it from my grasping hand by providing something I really like. The food doesn't have to be spectacular, the wine doesn't have to be fine but the overall experience has to be enjoyable and for me that means clean premises, unobtrusive yet attentive service, no more than one "how is your food?" per course and an overall air of friendliness. It was interesting walking to the restaurant at around 7.30 on Saturday evening. On the way I passed at least a dozen eateries and only two of them were busy, an independent pizza place and the excellent curry house at which I was assailed some weeks ago by the world's most ignorant person (see here). All the others had fewer than a quarter of their tables occupied, including my second-choice Thai establishment.

Walking in a different direction from FatBigot Towers takes me to my favourite local curry house, on that route I pass five or six restaurants including quite a new one also serving Indian food. I ate there a couple of weeks ago and the food was exceptionally good, however I was treated as an inconvenience by the snotty staff. That is perhaps only to be expected by a scruffy, aged, fat alcoholic who decides to impose his shambling self on high-quality premises; yet others welcome me to their business and smile sweetly as I hand-over cash at the end of the evening.

I know who is going to get my cash, it's the place that makes me feel welcome and gives the impression they have enjoyed having me there at least as much as I have enjoyed being their guest. They might be lying. They might want to get rid of me in case other potential customers are put-off by the rancid old man in the corner who looks as though he smells of stale urine, yet they smile through gritted teeth and realise that one scrofulous customer spending real money is worth more to them than any number who might visit but have not done so.

Next Saturday it will be curry again at my usual haunt and I am sure I will leave with a broad grin and a feeling of deep satisfaction with the product I have paid for.


The Great Simpleton said...

You can't do wine with Thai food, it has to be Singha beer. I don't drink it at any other time as I find it on the sweet side, but it does complement the food very nicely.

Indeed I find this with most country's food. My local Indian does a couple of decent choices, Kirin is especially nice with Japanese food but my favourite is washing down a Korean table BBQ and Kimchi with and OB beer.

TheFatBigot said...

I would probably agree if I could drink beer, Mr Simpleton. Unfortunately a late-teenage afternoon of gross excess has kept beer off my menu ever since.

I go for a light rose or blush wine with my Thai nosh. It needs something slightly sweet. I go for the same with Indian. Don't do Japanese or Korean.