I thought long and hard about writing up a post about this place – I thought it wasn’t worth my effort. I didn’t even want to waste my time drafting something. But when I’m in the mood I can write up a post in minutes and this was one of those times when what happened was so ridiculous that I almost feel compelled to document it. It was one of those bizarre, awkward, embarrassing situations that you can’t help but laugh off afterwards. To be honest I almost didn’t bother as I didn’t want to spend time writing something so negative on my blog but when Ban* posted a very aptly timed meme about ‘knowing your self worth’ I decided to try and turn it round into a positive message.
So what happened? I was invited down for a complimentary brunch in exchange for a feature on my social media and blog. A lovely gesture and despite it being something that happens quite frequently now I still find it hard to believe that I’m lucky enough to be asked; I’m a relative nobody in the blogging world! So we went down as arranged on a Saturday morning and had our brunch, but then just as I was thanking them and we were on our way out, Natasha (the woman who’d invited me down) stuttered “erm.. so.. like.. do you usually not pay for anything?” I didn’t even know how to respond. Did I need to recite the dictionary definition of complimentary? I said (to avoid awkwardness, and because I’m a giant pushover) “well, no, not normally, but.. I’m happy to.. pay”. (Like every other customer, thus defeating the object of a “collaboration”!?). Even then it was awkward.. “well.. erm, we’ve been totally dead today. We haven’t had any customers at all. So .. yeah.. if you wouldn’t mind.” What!? Either tell me to pay, or don’t. Don’t invite me down for a complimentary brunch then pitifully try to beg for pennies. Admittedly they were completely dead, but that’s irrelevant. My couple of plates of food is not going to be the difference between going under and not, and truthfully if a business is that desperate it makes me feel like for they must be seriously, seriously unsuccessful.
As I said before, I’m so incredibly grateful to get asked to collaborate with businesses and I’m so appreciative of every place that invites me down – I’d never expect a complimentary meal without being asked and of course I have absolutely no problem with paying for my meals – I’ve done so for 24 years and I bloody love food; it’s literally all my money on. I hugely sympathise with how hard it must be to run a small business too – heaven knows I’d have set up a cafe long ago if not as it’s one of my biggest dreams. But I can’t stand people who go back on their word and to get asked to come down, then to be guilt tripped into paying what is essentially pennies for a business was embarrassing, awkward and frankly.. completely pathetic. On par with buying someone a present, then begging for it back. Or more accurately – buying someone a present, then demanding that they pay you for it!!
Anyway onto the food, not that it’s really relevant because the food could’ve been world class and I wouldn’t set foot in there or recommend it to anyone after what I went through! Thankfully it wasn’t world class. I’m not unfair and I’ll give a truthful review – everything we ordered was presented beautifully and I was impressed with the range of food they knocked out from what was essentially a cupboard-sized kitchen (what you can see in the second picture is their entire kitchen.. and the entire place is only about double that size!). The avocado toast was pretty and the waffle looked seriously tempting but that’s where the positives ended. The granola was average at best and all of the plates came absolutely swimming in oil. Literally swimming. The entire slice of toast was completely saturated with oil and it was still sitting in a giant puddle on the plate. Even my smoked salmon side came swimming in oil – another “what!?” moment. Adding lashings of olive oil to smoked salmon is something I don’t even think Jamie Oliver would do! It’s oily enough as it is and the flavour of the olive oil totally ruined the light, fresh flavour of the salmon. The avocado toast I can just about excuse – it did add flavour to an otherwise simple dish but it was just too much, and combined with a very heavy handed helping of salt it didn’t make for a pleasant eating experience to say the least. The waffles tasted lovely though – light, fluffy and a very eggy batter (in a good way!) but the sausage wasn’t nice and the “homemade” beans were uninspiring. Again, that sat in a giant pool of oil. The coffees were good though – they serve All Press coffee and they were lovely and strong.. though I doubt we’d have taken them up on their fourth ‘fancy another coffee?’ offer had we known they were going to slap them all onto our bill at the end!!
On top of that the place is so small (three tables and it literally was dead – not one other person even so much as glanced in the direction of this cafe) that it was awkward. Perhaps it was abnormal as it was Easter weekend (she certainly used the “pity me, it’s so quiet and we’re open and not taking in any money” enough times!) and I imagine a lot of Londoners travel away from London for the long weekend, but there was zero life, no atmosphere and sporadic awkward small talk inflicted upon us which interrupted our own conversation. All round awkwardness. In between the awkward small talk and random questions they were openly discussing bills and running costs loudly too. It was well within earshot and I could’ve listened to every word if I’d wanted to. It all just added to the immature and unprofessional behaviour that I wouldn’t expect from any half respectable establishment. Yes they’re only a small business but Jesus – I don’t know the first thing about business but I know better than to behave like that.
Of course my opinion of the place has been prejudiced by the overall experience we had but to be honest that’s the point – when you eat out the service is as important as the food, or we’d all stay home and order Deliveroo in our pajamas. Billions of people can slice an avocado to perfection and plate it up beautifully (social media teaches us nothing if that!!) so to me the service and the way a place makes you feel has to form a large part of the review and it failed on all parts. Awkward small talk, flustered and unprofessional service and.. well.. the ridiculous introduction to this post just says it all doesn’t it. I certainly won’t be going anywhere near this place again!
In summary, and the reason I made the effort to write up this post – I really do think it’s important to ‘know your self worth.’ I’ve been used, I’m sure we all have at some point – I like to think that it happens because I’m always trying to be a nice person. I love to do things for other people, I love to make people happy, nothing makes me happier than spending time doing thoughtful things for others and I absolutely hate saying no to people, but ultimately sometimes you have to learn when to say no. Growing up I always thought the phrase ‘time is money’ was so stupid, but I’ve come to realise that there is literally nothing more valuable than your time. I’m so busy that I don’t get to see my friends and family nearly enough, and when Marcus is away travelling with tournaments we have periods when we barely get to spend any time together – and we live together for goodness’ sake! I don’t mean for this to come across as a lecture at all, but time really is precious, so in the same way that I always go on about how life is too short not to treat yourself to the foods you love, it’s also too short to give your valuable time to people/companies who don’t value you and try to use you.
*She’s smart, witty, honest, thoughtful and downright hilarious. (Go and follow her @banhass 🙂 ) This wasn’t meant to be an appreciation post but responses of incomprehensible hypocrisy to one of her posts from earlier this week kind of made me mad; girls shaming and slating her for writing something that was purely her opinion (and full of satire which people clearly failed to get). No one likes to be hated on. No one likes to put themselves out there and be shut down. It often takes me weeks to put up pictures of myself for fear of the responses and for all I love social media the negative comments do get me down. I could ramble on along a similar vein for hours (and contradict myself 1000 times) but I’ll just say that it can be so easy to forget how different people are – a throw away comment could go unnoticed by some but affect others for days so think before you keyboard bash; social media and internet anonymity isn’t an excuse to put others down.