Thursday, May 17, 2007


Emma’s birthday was on Saturday and in celebration we headed to the Mole and Chicken for a rack of ribs/warm duck salad/half a sheep. The Moley holds particular significance amongst my friends. It is a gastro-pub, and has been since before the term was invented. It serves quality, plentiful, hearty pub food. It’s the place we headed when we were old enough to eat in restaurants. We’ve never really graduated any further.

It’s also the scene of plenty of great nights out; as Spankee once described it; 10 people having 14 conversations all at the same time. Loud, boozy, delicious, funny; that’s the Moley.

Getting a table is hard; it’s very popular in the area and has a reputation that attracts people from far and wide. Emma booked six weeks in advance which was the first time in over a year that we’d actually succeeded in getting in.

In the morning we got a call from the pub checking we were still coming. It wasn’t unreasonable, the booking was for 12 people and if we hadn’t turned up it might have left a significant hole in the evening’s takings.

“Can you turn up earlier?” said the waitress of our 8pm booking. This was impossible – the chances of getting 12 people to turn up earlier than planned was about as possible as getting them to turn up on time. There were added complications of children and babysitters to organise and people coming from various corners of the shire.

“Well, you have order by 8.15 or you’ll get your food late” she said “we’re very busy”. What she didn’t seem to understand was in a pub which has about 10 tables, we would be taking up a significant proportion of her busy-ness.

As its always full it should be easy to predict the number of staff needed. What’s more, it’s one of those places that because it ain’t broke has had the same menu for a decade. Everyone orders the same thing every time. As these places go, it’s the most predictable business you can hope for.

Anyway, we all turned up at 8pm as arranged and the place was packed. We were seated and ordered by 25 minutes past – which was good going. The food turned up in good order and it was delicious. Fun was has by all. As always.

At 9.30 it became apparent that something was up… the place was empty apart from us. The staff were wiping table tops and staring at their hands in that way people with nothing to do do.

It appears that the reason tables are hard to come by is that they only have one sitting which is a strategy designed to get through the busy period as possible. Being full and busy all night in a restaurant is a bad thing, it seems. So they make hay for an hour and a half and then remain open for another 3 hours waiting to lock up. Gordon Ramsay would have a field day.


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