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Winner's Dinners

Published 15 August 1993
Style Magazine
8th article


I had a bit of a drama at Orso's last week. This is a subterranean place in London's Covent Garden with adequate, quasi-Italian food and excellent service. I had immense difficulty persuading anyone to serve me an egg to go on the establishment's rather dry pizza. I only succeeded by entering the kitchen and smiling at the chef.

The next day I phoned Orso's boss, Richard Polo. "What's the problem with giving me an egg on a pizza?" I asked.

"I'm not going to supply you with information for your articles," Polo snapped.

"Yes, but why should it be such an issue?" I persisted.

"We don't have eggs in the restaurant," said Polo.

"I've been served eggs on my pizza there for 10 years," I replied.

"Well, you shouldn't have been," said Polo the charmer. "We do not have eggs in the restaurant in a service capacity. We don't serve ice-cream on pizzas either."

"Just a minute," I said, trying to be reasonable. "Are you telling me that if a customer ordered an ice cream and a pizza, you wouldn't serve them together?"

"We might let him put the ice cream into the pizza himself," said Richard Polo generously, "but putting eggs on pizzas is not something we want to do."

"But it's too difficult, is it?" I said. "I mean, if a customer specially asks..."

"I don't want to discuss it," said Polo.

I changed the subject. "I hear you're opening in Kensington," I said.

"Yes," replied Polo, "in September. And there'll be no eggs there either."

It seemed senseless to continue. This man was obviously frightened by a chicken at an early age. I suppose that's as good a reason as any to go into catering.



Letters

We, too, experienced good food at The Canteen (August 8). However, when I tried to book a table in the conservatory area recently - giving a week's notice of the required date - I was told that they couldn't guarantee this as tables were allocated on the night (clearly for favourites). Marco Pierre White then came on the phone and suggested I cancelled and booked at another restaurant. His day will come!
J Cohen, Rickmansworth, Herts

I have just returned from holiday where I read Edwina Currie's criticism of l'addition at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons (July 18). Didn't this lass from supposedly "hard-headed" Derbyshire have the nous to look at the prices before ordering? What a pair of prats she and her husband must be. I thought that the first two sentences of Raymond Blanc's reply put her in her place beautifully, as well as putting the egg back on her face.
T Jones, Cardiff

In defence of The Sprowston Manor Hotel (August 8), I was very impressed by the way a misunderstanding was dealt with, giving the benefit of any doubt to us. We ordered starters from the table d'hote menu, referring to them simply as "the seafood/mushrooms" and "the lamb/beef" as main courses. When the starters arrived we were delighted with them, although the seafood contained extravagant delicacies which I could not recall from the menu description. With the arrival of the main course my suspicions were conīŦrmed that we had been served food from the it la carte selection. We pointed out the error and were offered the opportunity to be served our original order. We declined this exchange, and at the end of the meal we were presented with a bill showing the table d'hote price and an apology from the manager for their mistake.
Laraine Bingham, Rochfold, Essex

It really irks me to see regular clients being brought aperitifs and appetizers not available to other customers. This happened to me at Manzi's last week. It rather takes the edge off the dining experience.
K Newbold, Carshalron Beeches, Surrey

I must admit I'm puzzled by the choice of your restaurant critics. Edwina Currie seemed simply to criticise for the sake of criticism. But I much preferred her to Jeremy Clarkson. Here, clearly, is a man who could not care less about food and wine. And such childish jokes as "fartichoke" and saying wine is "merely a means to an end" should be left for public school newspapers. If this column is to be taken seriously, then I hope people who enjoy eating out, and not just celebrities, are asked to contribute.
Sharon Phillips, Bayswater, London

My partner and I hooked a table for two at Michels Restaurant, Ripley High Street, Surrey, last Saturday. When we arrived we were shown to a table directly under a spotlight. The light was so bright it disturbed my vision and I had to call the head waitress who, in turn, asked one of the waiters to stand on my chair and remove the bulb. He did not dust the chair afterwards. I had to do that myself. When we ordered our main course, we were told we would have to wait 35 minutes before it would be ready. The meal, when it eventually came, tasted delicious. But throughout, a large dog wandered about among the tables. I won't be going back again.
J Foulkes, Horley, Sussex