The week that was (21 April 2016)

‘If you get the hospitality right, the food tastes better’ Fred Sirieix
Everyone (front of house, back of house, in the industry, out of the industry) should read this article on the skill of the maître d', from Jay Rainer and Tim Lewis in The Guardian. Wonderful service is a wonderful thing. Sadly, I fear we don’t value professional front of house staff as much as we should. 
I particularly loved the beautiful story of Elena Salvoni, who died this year at 95. She was still running a monthly service at a restaurant in Soho: “a friend … took a date to L’Escargot only noticing as he got to the table, through the surreptitious patting of pockets, that he had forgotten his wallet. Elena called him to the bar for a phone call. It was a ruse. She told him she could see he had no money with him, and that he was not to worry about it. She instructed him to enjoy his dinner. “You’ll pay me tomorrow.”
This talk of professionalism brings me neatly back to the reviewers, and a plea … can someone, please,please, separate themselves from the others and wait a few months before they put pen to paper? That is every time you review. And yes, that is three whole months. Then write an honest, considered review of a restaurant that has had the time to find its feet and its rhythm.
I fear the battle to be first comes with way too many compromises. You can’t review the floor staff when they haven’t even had a day to learn the tides of the room. And that food can only ever be a whisp of what it will become with a little time in the kitchen, the time for the chefs to evolve the dishes, to learn which gas ring burns a little cooler, to find the hot pockets in the oven. Not to mention the choreography of all those new chefs who have never danced together – imagine how much better their moves will be, 700 hours in?
I do think the reviewers know this rush to review is unfair, but this is worse still, with their reviews now tempered to avoid criticism of themselves. It's a review which is no review. Of course, we’ve all heard the excuses. Those who saw Jonathon Gold at the Art Gallery will remember Terry, squirming a little, while trotting out one after another: we're competing with bloggers, supporting the restaurants, helping out the public (who, yes, are shelling out their hard-earned from day one), selling the newspapers. 
I don’t want excuses and I certainly don’t want the concessions, I also don't want the egos. It's not a race. It's people's livelihoods. I want the professionalism we expect from the restaurant to be reflected in that of the reviewers. Talk up to your audience, expect more of them and don't rush. Respect them and respect the restaurant. The industry will be better for it.