Have you been on the Naughty Step ??

I’m always intrigued by customers requests when they come and dine.  Yesterday was another interesting one.

Where a young couple were not happy with our music selection. They left the restaurant when the staff refused to turn the music off.  (It had been turned down twice at their request)

I rather have a large back ground in Childcare and when I have to deal with  an upset  customer I think of them as  a child having a tantrum.
I must stay calm, maintain eye contact, take their name, and assure them that whatever has made them upset (if it’s possible) will be dealt with, always making sure that they don’t upset any of my other diners. If this fails then they must sit on the “naughty step” (exit door)

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Thankfully we don’t have to put this into practice often. More than 90% of our customers are great. What kind of a world would it be if everyone was the same.

How do you deal with naughty customers?

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Virginia Park Lodge Pumpkin Festival.

FRIDAY 24TH – SUNDAY 26TH OCTOBER 

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What an array of events. 

  • Accommodation
  • Haunted Walks
  • Masquerade Pumpkin Ball
  • Lunches and Craft Beers
  • Paddy Casey Live 

The grounds of Virginia Park Lodge is ideal for this great festival.  I’m gutted that I’m going to miss this great event. Im a big fan of Richard Corrigan and have had the pleasure of dining both here in Cavan and in Mayfair.

Book now : info@virginiaparklodge.com

                   +353 49 8546100

Tankardstown House

My first visit here was last Thursday night. Its a real shame that I haven’t been before, living so close to it. I was very excited about trying the new Tasting Menu. I had also heard great reports about the new chef  Robbie Krawczyk. We arrived early for our table which was great as we got to walk around the beautiful grounds first and sip on a lovely chilled glass of prosecco. 20140918_182917

The menu reads very well and making changes to it was no problem. The restaurant was very quite, with one other table dining. It was early at 7pm and we didn’t mind, as we have a view of the kitchen and got to watch our dishes been prepared. Our waitress was polite, and explained our menu to us and very knowledgeable about the wines.

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We placed our order, and fresh from the oven our breads arrived. Having bread for me is a real treat as not everyone remembers the lactose intolerance girl dining. The bread was simple but my husband got to taste the butter and declared it was the best he had ever eaten. We couldn’t help but admire the dining room, it was so elegent and the lighting was just perfect. No posh table cloths, which I really do be grateful for, only because I have a habit of spilling food or drink all over them. ( usually red wine ) Our Amuse Bouche arrived. I know it was Salmon ( below left ) but for the life of me I can’t remember what else was in it.  It was just divine and went perfectly with our Prosecco. Light and delicate and I remembering declaring to my husband that I could simply eat spoonfulls of it. Our next course arrived and for me it was the best dish of the night, Crab and Lobster, Cucumber, Grapefruit, Roe. ( below middle ) trust me when I say that it tasted just as good as it looks. Again a very light and fresh flavour. The cucumber matched perfectly with the lobster. To be honest I wasn’t  sure when it arrived if I should admire it or eat it. Robbie is very talented. This dish to me was Michelin Star. It worked perfectly. It was then followed by Rhubarb Sorbet

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We were getting quite full at the stage and I did feel that the dishes were perhaps coming out to quickly from the kitchen, I would have preferred a little bit more time between courses. We still had three more courses to get through and another two tables had arrived and were enjoying the tasting menu also. Our next course was Hake, Sea Asparagus, Cauliflower, a Fennel puree was replaced in stead of the brown butter.  (Below Left) I found that the fennel puree slightly over powered the dish. Other than that it was a lovely course. The Hake was cooked nicely, great texture and quite a big portion. Next I was treated to Turbot, Ratatouille, Aubergine Caviar, Squid Ink. ( below middle ) Excellent piece of Fish. Unfortunately my camera does not do justice for this dish. The Aubergine Caviar was to die for. I honestly could have eaten pots of it. I was really impressed through out our evening that all dishes were seasoned perfectly. I did notice and did make the comment to my husband that a lot of components had been repeated in some of the dishes. I remember a few months back having dinner in Virgina Park Lodge where Richard Corrigan had put on a tasting menu for 30 of us. The same comment had been made to Richard where he quite simply told them, that he doesn’t believe in waste and if he needed to use the same ingredient in another dish then he will. I later discovered after speaking to Robbie that he had worked with Richard Corrigan. Im a great believer in not wasting food and had no problem with this.  For our final course I was in for treat.  I never order dessert anymore as I usually get the waiters head tilt to the side, as he explains that he’s sorry and that all I can have is a fruit salad. But this was not the case here. I was given chocolate and lots of it. I have to say its been years since Iv had chocolate. It was divine. The dessert was Coco Barr Chocolate, Edible Bark with a Blackcurrant Sorbet.  ( below right )

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I can not express enough how wonderful the food is here. The effort that Robbie and his team when to to make my evening enjoyable did not go unnoticed. Im embarrassed that I live so close to Tankardstown House and this amazing food, and it has taken me so long to try it out.  Im already planning my next date there. Sunday lunch with friends.

Get Twitting

Twitter
Getting Started with Twitter Marketing
Start at Twitter.com and open your free account – choose a name that represents your business eg CafeTropix, or use your own. Don’t be strange or mysterious – this is about promotion!
Next, answer the simple question on your Twitter home page: ‘what’s new?’ in 140 characters or less – that’s about the length of this sentence. In most cafes, restaurants or bars there’s a constant stream of news and changing events – it’s what attracts so many people to the industry! Here’s your chance to share it with hungry, thirsty and interested fans.
Once you have an account, you’ll want others to follow or ‘subscribe’ to your news – or ‘tweets’. It’s a little like moving to a new town, with no friends on the first day but they’re all around if you make an effort to find them. Use Twitter’s search function to find other restaurants or cafes, and see how they use the service – examples below.
Add a button like this to your website
Add a button like this to your website

Now promote your twitter name to customers, in promotional material and email signatures – you may have seen the little blue twitter-bird or logo that shows someone is using Twitter. If people follow you, follow them back if they look interesting – some people follow everyone, others are much more selective. Just click on the Follow button on their Twitter page.
You can post your Twitter updates directly on your Twitter home page, or use one of the ‘twitter tools’ that will follow updates and allow you to post without needing a web page open.
Popular tools for managing Twitter include:
Find people who Twitter in your local area usingNearbyTweets- make sure you include your city/town in your profile to help others find you in the same way.
Tweetr,TweetdeckandTwirhlto watch and post tweets.
UseTweetlaterto set up a series of Tweets for later – a great way to look busy and manage your time!
Create a special background for your Twitter page usingTwitbacks.
Important:Tweetbeepwill keep track of your name or the business name if it’s mentioned on Twitter.
…and many more – do a search for ‘twitter tools’.
Taking the first steps is simple…
1. JoinTwitter
2. Add a picture and write your profile – make sure to include a business name and describe what you do
3. Tweet something
4. Find and follow others
One tweet a week is OK, but one a day is better: managing the posts could be a good task for one of your young staff who always have their thumbs on their mobile, but make sure they can spell and run the item past you first! The main thing to remember:be interesting, don’t just rave on.
Your first twitter comments could be:
A menu highlight — A customer story — A local story or event
A staff comment — a surprising best seller — Wine tip — Special offer
Retweet (ie copy) of someone else’s tweet that caught your eye — Looking for a recipe
Unique ingredient or flavour — Wedding or function pictures — Another local business that twitters…
Watching how how other businesses like yours use Twitter will give you ideas about what to write. In your tweets, you can post links to websites and photos. For sharing pictures, use a service likeTwitPicand when you post a website link, it will be automatically shortened to fit within 140 characters.
Ideas for special Twitter promotions:
Ask followers for feedback on something specific eg ‘Please let us know how you liked Saturday night’s band?’ or ‘New menu now up – we’d love to hear you comments’
Promote a happy-hour event, music, food or sudden special
BUT: if you promote the same type of event every day, people will stop noticing or following you. Make the announcementrealnews, not just endless promotion.
Promote a Twitter-only Special. Customers who mention the Twitter special receive a special deal, free drink or something tasty. They will feel like ‘insiders’ and want recognition for being techno-savvy – make sure your staff know what Twitter is. Hopefully they are tweeting too!
‘Twitter Tuesday’ or ‘Twitter Thursday’ have a good ring to them – promote a special deal to be revealed in a tweet on that day. Promote your Twitter address on menus, blackboards and websites (where of course there’s a link to your Twitter and Facebook pages).
Offer a special prize for people who follow you eg ‘Follow @CafeTropico by 5pm EST to be entered to win a $100 gift certificate.’
Run a twitter feed on a screen or side of screen in the restaurant – one that tracks your Twitter feed or a special topic. Use a Twitter widget like the one at the bottom of this page, running it on the screen of a PC set up specially. It’s a small extra item of interest – an unused 17″ screen would be fine.
UPDATE: How to Use Twitter Searchfor business feedback, tracking news and discovering trends.
Restaurants, Cafes, Hotels & Bars Using Twitter
A very small selection of hospitality businesses using Twitter well – suggestions welcome:
SweetMandarin- a Chinese restaurant in the UK with a huge following
CarriageWorks- a Sydney event and entertainment centre
Kogi Korean BBQ- mobile food in Los Angeles
Double D’s Pizza- promoting regular deals and specials
FlatIron Cafe- they like talking about food!
Starbucks- keeping up a conversation with fans
Cafe Ba-Ba Reeba- updates from a busy Chicago restaurant
MuMu Grill- restaurateur very active with social media
Fix St James- restaurateur and sommelier very active with social media
Ken Burgin- the person who wrote this article!
There are more examples and videos about Twitter atTwitter Updateson this site.
You may want to include certain keywords in your tweets, called ‘hashtags’ eg #cafe or #Sydney – these are tracked by some people who use Twitter tools to keep an eye on certain themes. They’re also extensively used by people attending events – a hashtag will be promoted and everyone can follow subjects related to the event eg search for events about a recent internet conference with the tag #sxsw was used by the South by South West Technology Conference. Anyone can make up a hashtag.

Chameleon.

After a lovely afternoon walking around Dublin, we found ourselves in Temple Bar. We were hungry and it had started to rain. My husband suggested that we try Chameleon Restaurant. He had dined here a few weeks back and had teased me profusely  on twitter with his photos. I don’t like walking into a restaurant un announced, I tweeted to them to see if they could accommodate two hungry and wet customers.

We had a friendly welcome as we walked through the door from Nikki. She chatted with us for a while, and we were offered to dine upstairs or in the ‘Spice Bar’ down stairs. We decided to sit down stairs and we were allocated our table. Nikki explained the menus to us, and we decided to go for the Rijst Tafel Menu to share with a few extra Tapas. We decided to have the “Sumatra” . Tapas seems to be a big thing at the moment. A lot of places claim to be a tapas bar but are of course not. I was looking forward to seeing what Chameleon had to offer. Asian Tapas?

First we given Krupuk, to start  ( Deep fried crackers) a popular snack in Indonesia, as we were deciding on a wine. These were just what we needed to get our taste buds going.  ( Below Left)

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Our courses started to arrive and I was beginning to wonder had we ordered to much as dish after dish kept appearing on the table. But Nikki assured us that we hadn’t. First up was ‘Udang  Goreng” Black Tiger Prawns In their shell. ‘Ikan Bakar Colo Colo” Fresh Irish Fish baked in a Banana leaf parcel. (Above, Middle)) The prawns were Delicious, Crispy and cooked perfectly. The fish was really nice and with it wrapped in the banana leaf left it oozing with fresh flavours.  We had some lovely Spicy Condiments on the side which are great if you prefer your dishes a little more spicy. They were Chilli Paste, Soya, Pickled Veg and I think the last one was Onion. They were all so different and lots of flavours. My favourite was the Pickled Veg. (Above Right)

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The yellow curry was a big hit, mild,crunchy beans, courgettes and mangetout. Simple dish. The Crab and Haddock cake was simply one of the best “Fish Cakes” I have ever eaten. The Chilli and Mango dip on the side went perfect with it. Im not sure what Asian Herbs were added to it, and I forgot to ask, but I would suggest that you shouldn’t leave without trying this dish out. Tiger prawns with a chilli and pineapple were equally delicious. The Asian Salad (above and right) was another great dish and all the flavours were so different from each other.

Chameleon has a lot to offer for every tastebud and even all dietery requirements. I was very impressed with the food and flavors and the service was very friendly. Highly recommend.

An Port Mór.

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Been from Mayo I always love coming
home to visit my family.  Every time I’m home I come to see Frankie in An Port Mór.  The restaurant is located in Westport across from Matt Molloys pub. http://www.anportmor.com  Frankie has won several awards and most recently just won ‘Best Chef and Restaurant” in Connacht, in this year’s food and wine awards.

We arrived for dinner on a lovely summer evening.  Greeted by very friendly staff and shown to our table. We were starving and looking forward to some local honest food.  We were given the menus and as usual I had loads of questions. I really feel confident ordering in a restaurant where the service staff have a good knowledge of the menu. My queries were answered with confidence and our order was taken.

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I decided to order the Achill Island Smoked Fish Board, wild Irish tuna, peppered mackerel, honey roast Salmon, served with a selection of house chutneys. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it arrived. A feast fit for a king. I loved every element of this dish.  The peppered mackerel was to die for.

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The restaurant was buzzing and a full house on a Tuesday night.  I was getting very excited about my main course. Frankie was preparing something off the menu for me. I was been spoiled.

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When I received (pictured above) my main course, I was like a child with ice cream.  I couldnt wait to pick up my cutlery.  Wild Atlantic Salmon with Lobster. Sides of fresh Baby potatoes and in season greens. I really was beginning to feel like I was sitting on Keel beach in Achill.

No room for dessert we were given this lovely  jello shots. A nice touch at the end of the meal.

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Frankie and his wife Olivia really have a very special restaurant here in Westport. The menu has lots to offer for everyone from Pig Cheeks to Ribeye Steaks. However they pride themselves on local fresh seafood. 

Chapter One . The Only One.

I always get excited when I make a reservation in Chapter One  it is really my favourite restaurant in Dublin. This trip was no different from any other meal I have had here. 

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I sometimes feel I’m every chefs worst nightmare but this is never the case here. Components are removed from any dish that may not suit me with no fuss what so ever. What I like about dining here is how discreet they are about my dietary requirements.

We arrived on time for out table and Declan asked if we would like a drink in their cosy bar or to be brought to our table. We choose a drink in the bar and ordered 2 glasses of Champagne. We were given the food and wine menus. Declan is very professional and easy to chat to. No meal is ever complete here without some laughs with Martin. 

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Our Order was taken and for starters I decided on Cured Clare Island organic salmon, with smoked salmon mousse, Fresh peas and yuzu jelly. The flavours were so fresh. Delicious.  

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For main course I decided on Hake with pickled Fennel and braised white beans, cockles, razor clams. I have had this dish several times here and it never fails. The Hake was cooked with perfection, the texture was beautiful, all the accompaniments enhanced the flavours of the Hake, but you wouldn’t expect anything else from Ross Lewis. 

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Been completely stuffed from the delicate flavours of this Michelin Star food and a lovely Bottle of of Billecart Salmon Champagne (A great recommendation  from Declan) we decided to leave the dessert but have an Irish Coffee. It was delightful to experience GUERIDON service in this Michelin Star restaurant. It really was very entertaining. Mine was made without the cream. I can honestly say this whole lunch date was one if one the best meals of my life. I just wished I lived closer I would go every day. 

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It was an honour to meet Ross and receive a signed copy of his cook book, An Irish Food Story.  This book can be purchased  in Chapter One or on line on their website. Keep an eye on my blog of details on how you could be the lucky winner to win a signed copy. 

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Win Chapter One Cook Book and read about my visit to Ireland’s top restaurant

THE RESTAURANT

If the kitchen is the engine room of Chapter One then the restaurant is most definitely “The Good Room”! It has been renovated and upgraded over the past five years under the watchful eye of our interior architect Maria MacVeigh. It is sleek and elegant with the use of textured fabrics and warm colours to create a comfortable and elegant space.
We made a conscious effort to source Irish crafts people who have made various pieces for us, such as Kieran Higgins’ bog oak sculpts, Joe Hogan’s hand woven baskets, Colm Hassett’s beautiful table for the Jameson Room and David Coyne’s bespoke pedestals and stunning table in the Demi Salle. The wood used in these pieces is all sourced in Ireland and our artwork is from predominantly Irish artists. We are very committed to celebrating the integrity of people who are masters of their craft.