In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned that the main factor that always influences and encourages consumer patronage is the quality and consistency of a restaurant's food.
With this in mind, when trying to decide which of the many, many restaurants/pubs I have eaten in with family or friends over the years have been 'the best', I used this as the main deciding factor. I then thought about the overall service, ambience and general standards that either met or exceeded my expectations. To be completely honest, having lived in both South London and South Devon and having spent periods abroad, it was hard to pin down one particular place, so thought it best to shine some light on one site from each area I have spent significant amounts of time in.
The following have been my 'top 3' all-time places to eat:
1. The Old Orchard, Harefield, Uxbridge, Middlesex
This restaurant, formally 'Edwinns', has a special significance for me as it was a place me and my family used to visit on and off throughout the '90s. The menu offered good variety, and as I recall, the food was always of an exceptional standard. The menu now offered by The Old Orchard isn't dissimilar from that of Edwinns, offering a 'nibbles' section alongside the main menu, should you wish to just relax with a few drinks and snacks of an afternoon/evening.
What also made this restaurant stand out for me were the friendly yet professional waiting staff. While they would not intrude too much on your lunch/dinner, they would remember the small details about you and maybe things you had told them on a previous visit and then ask you how exams were going? Or how was the show you went to see? The personal touch, the small things - always a winner for me! If I ever find myself back in Uxbridge, for old times sake, I will be sure to visit again!
2. The Church House Inn, Marldon, Devon
This Restaurant is one of two in my village, both offering their own unique style of dining experience. The Church House Inn is a multi-award winning Grade 2 listed pub/restaurant and was apparently the first in Devon to be listed in the Michelin Pub Guide.
Since relocating to South Devon back in 2001, I can honestly say that this place has consistently impressed me. I have eaten here on several occasions, either with friends, family and even on a date! So confident have I been that the service and food would impress, that I have almost viewed it as a failsafe. The lunch menu tends to be a bit more basic, though the food quality, presentation and the friendly, attentive manner during lunch and dinner service always seems faultless.
In truth, there have been several other very nice restaurants in this vast county that I have enjoyed visiting, though this for me, tops the list.
3. Lonestar Steakhouse, Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, USA
Going back 20 years to my work experience placement in the US, this was practically a second home for myself and my colleagues after work. It was a great place to head to in the evenings for a well-earnt steak supper, and we took advantage of the variety of iced cocktails that were on offer and of course, a beer.
This was, to be honest, a 'no frills' Steakhouse/diner but with excellent, efficient, friendly service and had that terrific upbeat, enthusiastic American atmosphere. We would enter exhausted after a long hard day and leave well-fed, relaxed and buzzing. From a business point of view, this was a fantastic, well-run diner, offering its patrons a relatively cheap yet fun evening out. It also provided some meal deals on various days of the week which for us, on a student's budget, was always welcome.
I remember always seeing the same faces up there, which is evidence in itself that they were doing something very right! Even to this day, I remember my medium/rare filet mignon with cinnamon potatoes and the 'Peco's Peach' iced cocktails - amazing!
As you can imagine, like most of you out there I'm sure, there have been many restaurants, bistros, cafe's, hotels, pubs and even fast food establishments that I have frequented over the years. Most of which have been average/ok in most respects. I think that with all the competition in the industry nowadays, it takes that extra something or perhaps a unique selling point to be noticed and make a business stand out and really be successful. If done right, a specific restaurant or pub will stay etched in someone's mind and will always be their first choice of venue!