The Hospitality Briefing: August 2021

Watson and Walpole billed itself as a neighbourhood restaurant from the outset. We even had the temerity to have the description inscribed, gilded haberdasher-style, on our windows. Thankfully, locally domiciled customers have been flooding through the doors. We put this down to the good food (obviously); the warm service (obviously); the reasonable prices (obviously); and, not so obviously, that intangible quality of relaxed authenticity.

We love this at both Moro and Pea Porridge, the other good Suffolk restaurants: there is something indefinably quotidian about them. Both offer high-calibre cooking and service but not the up-your-a*** cheffiness that intimidates customers and produces an outrageous bill, a bill that often reassures the customer they must be in the right place – except they often aren’t.

Molecular jiggery-pokery can make stunning theatre, but there are few culinary Halls and Hytners. I have always hated smears, foams, and food demonstrably ill-suited for serving in a bowl. Michelin stars are sucked up like crack-cocaine by most chefs but I can think of little that would be so damaging to our business. A neighbourhood restaurant we are and the only reward we want is happy customers.