Monday, 4 May 2015

Sinning On Sunday...

...among the chandeliers

Restaurant work is hard. It is demanding not only physically, requiring you to be on your feet for 18 hours straight, but emotionally too – a successful service, whether on the bar, floor or kitchen, requires constantly doing several complex jobs at once, as quickly as possible, while also maintaining an air of composure and, most importantly, gracious civility. We do not shout at each other. We do not throw things. I hate histrionics, and won’t stand for them. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous occasions when I don’t want to kick an offending object, dropped in careless haste, across the room at the culprit, hard. Yet somehow, in spite of working in such an environment, at once both charged and draining, we all manage to get along pretty well; in fact, we all rather like each other.

an evocative portrait of our miserable lot

The main reason for this is, of course, inherent to the above, in that the complexity of the work requires us all to support each other, and the sense of heady camaraderie at the end of a particularly hard shift in which everyone has pulled together is near-intoxicating. We are open 7 days a week, we do not have time for away days to affect team-building, and nor do we need to, for we live that. However not every service is a perfect example of the graceful interplay of the telepathic hive-mind, and for this we retain the family meal.

An hour before every service, with the restaurant set up, places laid, mis en place primed, powder charged, we sit together and eat. I don’t let my team carry phones in the restaurant, and this rule applies to the family meal. We sit and talk. Conversation is light, humorous, flirtatious and amusing. The three teams – bar, floor, and kitchen, who during service exchange little more than curt inquiry and terse response, all sit, joke, laugh and eat.

two cooks, one floor, one bar, tucking in together and not stabbing each other, the dream

The kitchen take great pride in the family meal. Since we do much of our own butchery we end up with a lot of choice off-cuts, which go into exactly the kind of rich, hearty braises and stews which, bubbling away on the back of the flat-top, mirror in opposition the kind of clean, precise cooking we aspire to on our menu. Often the bar will make up a jug of something delicious, freshly squeezed and effervescent, the floor team laying and clearing, to make it a team production.

I’m a great fan of Adam Hyman, and his Code App. Along with many other fine independent London institutions, we have paid to subscribe to a scheme whereby those employed in any capacity within the hospitality industry can download the app, apply for accreditation (a very simple process), and use it get a significant discount on their meal at Brunswick House. I have encouraged all my staff to sign up. It’s free for them, the administrative cost of the scheme being financed by the participating restaurants. We currently offer the following to Code members:

Monday - Friday | Special Offer 
25% off the Food, Wines by the glass/carafe, Negronis & Fernet Branca
Monday to Friday Lunch
Monday & Tuesday Dinner
Maximum of 4 people per CODE ID
Reservation preferred

We get a couple of tables in a week. Previously we’d always attempt to identify our colleagues from other establishments by subtle indications, such as unusual interest in natural wine, a tendency to start lunch with two Negronis, and a marked predilection for Fernet Branca. Tables we’d marked would often then get a couple of treats thrown at them – some complimentary snacks for instance, or an extra pudding, or perhaps a digestif of some sort – but this was an arbitrary process. The fact is we love this industry, and the people who work so hard to make London the fabulous city to eat in that it is, and the Code app is a much more efficient way to identify targets of our appreciation and largesse.

A couple of months ago Charles, Sofi and I decided to fuse the two above ideas. After service on Sunday, deep clean, stock take, ordering and weekly housekeeping complete, we often repair to Silk Road in Camberwell, or in high summer, to Frank’s in Peckham, where not only can we enjoy our one guaranteed evening off a week, but also run into a host of refugees from other London establishments. An informal celebration of our hard work the week passed, and a girding of the loins for the seven days forthcoming, we decided to found a monthly supper club at Brunswick House, where anyone who’d worked that day, or indeed anyone from the industry granted a blessed day off, could come to ours for a cheap, convivial dinner. Four courses, cocktails, £22. I approached Adam Hyman with the idea, who said Code would be delighted to offer support, and the wine merchants Fields, Morris & Verdin, our wonderful neighbours, who said they’d  release a few special bottles for us to offer at knock-down prices. Mr Hyman even gave it a name in his allusion to the commendable US institution of Service Industry Nights, and thus SINning On Sunday was born.

the best neighbours one could wish for

We had originally planned to launch in April, however we had a rather unsavoury infra-structural collapse just before Easter, whereby some of our Georgian plumbing decided to go on strike, and for the last six weeks every Sunday evening has been a plumbers paradise of angle grinders, plungers, welders and really fucking long flexible rods. As such we are now pushing ahead and inaugurating on Sunday May 17th.

We have already sold around half the tickets, and look forward to welcoming parties from The Clove Club, The Dairy (whose Bloodshot was a great inspiration), Spring, to name but three of our favourite restaurants who are going to be represented. We’re very excited and deeply honoured. Another 20 tickets are still available to the first dinner next Sunday, and while we’d ask that applicants show up with Code membership numbers primed, we will accept a limited number of civilian guests at the non-discounted but still exceptionally good value price of £30.

Charles and I are cooking the first dinner, for which the menu will be:

Cockscombs, Purslane, Egg
Salt-Baked Swaledale Brisket, Carrots & Mustard Leaf
Rhubarb, Tapioca & Almonds

FMV are making a small quantity of the following amazing wines available at deep discount:

Bourgogne Blanc, Henri Prudhon 2013 - £15
VdPays CĂ´tes Catalanes, Les Calcinaires Blanc, Domaine Gauby 2013 £25
‘Vendimia’, Palacios Remondo, Rioja 2013 - £18
Bourgueil, Lame Delisle Boucard 2008 MAGNUM £28

Gauby. No more need be said.

Please email with SINNING ON SUNDAY YES PLEASE as the subject to apply for a place in our hearts

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