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Other Than That, Mrs Lincoln, How Was the Show?

The reading went very well, thanks. And I was touched by how many people showed up on a Friday night to listen (and buy). It was really kind of you to schlep into town (unless you live close, and then it was just really kind of you).

Maybe it's delayed karma for the Yaki Soba at Wagamama (go on, buy the book) all those months ago. But my hand hurts and I've written a letter to Balans.

Not that they care, I'm sure.


I've just returned home from a meal at your Soho restaurant (my second this week) and am compelled to offer some feedback.

I think your sweet potato / pumpkin soup is delicious. However, one of your food runners accidentally spilled mine this evening, resulting in a second degree burn on my hand.

Both the runner and the waiter were briefly apologetic, and offered me ice and an additional drink once I'd finished the one I had. The waiter came back a second time and (trying to be funny) asked if I wanted "any more vodka as disinfectant."

I worked in food service, as a waiter and then a floor manager, for many years. If anything like this happened in a restaurant I worked in, management would have been at the table in a heartbeat. I did notice the waiter tell the manager, and he waved it off. Literally ... he looked my way, looked back at the server, shrugged, and flicked his hand.

I did not ask for a second drink, as we had already ordered a bottle of wine. When I received the bill, I was surprised that no compensation was offered. I asked the waiter if, since a) I didn't take him up on his offer of a second drink and b) my hand was blistered, he couldn't give take my original drink (at the VERY least) off of the bill.

He came back from a second consultation with your manager and said he took the soup off. The drink was 10.20 (you charge extra for soda water in a vodka and soda when the vodka is 9.25!?!?!) and the soup was 4.50.

So, for my spilled soup (1/4 of which went on the table or my hand ... and was not cleaned up until after the first course dishes were cleared), I'm compensated with a blistered hand (which, more than two hours later is still very painful) and less than a fiver off my bill.

This is unacceptable. Since moving to London four years ago, I've enjoyed your restaurants very much (against the recommendations of many local friends) and have been keen to bring out-of-town guests there. I have to say that tonight's experience has (forgive the pun) burned me on your brand.

If this had been a restaurant I worked in, or managed (back in the day), I'd have seen to it that the meal (if not the table) was comped. To have received a free soup (of which I still have a searing souvenir) seems hardly adequate.

Please let me know what you can do for me before I pursue this further.

Kind regards,

chez bobzyeruncle
Wx xxx

For those of you not in London, Balan's is the equivalent of Food Bar (and if you didn't live in NY when Food Bar was around, then the equivalent is "I'm gay, I'm hungry, I know ... let's go to Balan's/ Food Bar (RIP) /The Diner on Sycamore (RIP) / insert your homo-friendly eatery here'").

Anyway, I'm soaking in ice and aloe vera and still pissed off at really rancid customer service. It's a shame that soup is so good.

'Tis the season.