When the rain won’t stop teeming and the unforgiving arrow of winter still cuts through the air, retreating into a cosy cavern of tasty food is an ideal way to salvage a Sunday. Such was the conclusion reached by Emmy and Vernon on an early March weekend.
Vernon creaked open the door to Bill’s restaurant in Leamington and Emmy darted inside, pulling down her coat hood and sending beads of water cascading to the floor. Her senses immediately flooded with soft warmth, humming chatter and indulgent aroma. She smiled with the satisfaction that they had made the right choice for today’s lunch.
What happened next was a surprisingly systematic process involving numerous Bill’s team members in quick succession, all wearing chirpy infectious smiles. The lady who first greeted them asked the inevitable question of whether they had a reservation.
“No…” Emmy winced, mood sinking – it was a very popular venue and they were not the only ones seeking comfort food on this dismal day. Nevertheless, following a few taps on her computer the lady grinned and declared success in finding a space. There was a slightly strange pause until another staff member appeared by her side.
“Gary will show you to your table”, she explained.
They weaved through the wooden tables, the room heaving yet happy, animated yet relaxed.
“I’ll now hand you over to Karen who will look after you from now on”, Gary stated once they were settled.
By this point Emmy and Vernon were exchanging arched eyebrows and clamped lips, both bursting to comment on the unusual, highly organised system. However, over the course of the meal they discovered that any mocking of the Bill’s way would have been utterly unreasonable. Service and timings were impeccable despite the restaurant being so busy and the multi-staff approach almost certainly aided this.
After an ideal amount of time to enjoy her cup of coffee, Emmy’s soup arrived. A trendy hunk of wood was placed before her sporting a bowl containing a few mushrooms, a jug of thick sauce and a slice of toasted sourdough. Mischief kicked in and she reached for her phone, eager to snap an image of this new height in ‘painfully hip’: deconstructed soup. Sadly, the waiter got there before her and poured the hot liquid over the fungus, forming an earthy, mellow stew with a satisfying bite provided by each perfectly cooked mushroom. It was easily the tastiest version of the soup she had ever eaten. Again, her mild mockery was misplaced – although she couldn’t be sure that the presentation contributed to the flavour, with no evidence to suggest otherwise she was happy to presume that separating sauce from mushroom until the point of eating was the optimal way to enjoy this delicious dish.
Vernon was impressed with his chicken salad – a simple fare so often neglected the attention required to get it right. A modest trail of Caesar dressing had been poured over the bowl, the remainder proffered in a cute jug by the side. They had a brief reminisce over the same dish ordered a few years back in a different venue, over which dressing had been sloshed so liberally that it could well have been mistaken for a bowl of mushroom soup. The simple act of leaving the dressing to the eater’s discretion was a great touch.
The couple thanked the highly efficient team and strode back into the rain, which felt but half as bad now they were refuelled and relaxed, courtesy of the very well-planned (and expertly cooked) Bill’s execution of service.