Saturday, 19 April 2014

Week beginning Tuesday April 22nd - West Fitzrovia, it's all happening.

My wife used to work on the corner of Great Titchfield and Mortimer, from about 2007 to 2009. That is how we found our location. We knew that the demographic of fashion, media, design, advertising was suitable towards our business concept, and also that we would enjoy opening and running a business with that demographic. It is also three minutes from Oxford circus.

I define it as sort of the area of Oxford street, Regent street, Wells Street and Foley street.

But in 2009, it was a pretty quiet area, except for the pubs on a Thursday and Friday night of course, which were rammed. Market Place with it's few restaurants and the Market Tavern existed but that is closer to Oxford street really, while up our end were the trailblazers that are Scandinavian Kitchen. There was not too much in between and the further up you went, the quieter it got.

Things have changed in five years and have/will be changing a lot recently and over the next few months.

There is now a neighbourhood forum, put together by some of the local residents who work and live in the area. This has been recognised by Westminster council and the premise is that the forum will be used to represent the views of both the local residents and the local businesses with anything going on in the area. More information can be found here. (the designated area of the forum is different to what I have defined just before)

http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/

Riding House Cafe openned across the road from us 3 years ago. Owned by the guys who run the amazing Village East and The Garrison in Bermondsey, it has been packed since day one. We are very happy to have them as quality neighbours.

I'm not sure of the dates, perhaps two years ago, the amazing Bonnie Gull seafood shack opened around the corner on Foley street, and they have just opened up their second store in Exmouth Market, bigger and better than the original.

A year ago, the BBC finalised their move to the headquarters at the top of Regent street, bringing 7,000 people to the area. Around that time, Attendant cafe opened in an underground Victorian toilet just up the road next to the Crown and Sceptre. Then, in the middle of last year, on Great Portland Street, a great restaurant called Picture opened to critical acclaim. Speaking of the Crown and Sceptre, in January this year they took a month off to refurbish, moving the bar to a more practical, service orientated spot and improving their menu offer.

This Monday coming, Honest Burgers will open their doors on the corner of Great Titchfield street and Market Place and in a about a month or so, Burger and Lobster will open on Little Portland Street. A minutes walk along this little street towards Regent street, is another great coffee place, Mothers Milk which opened about six months ago.

Two weeks ago, at the top of Regent street, just down from All Souls Church, Byron Burgers opened and news in this week is that both Workshop Coffee and Curators Coffee will soon be opening just off Regent street. Workshop will be in Mortimer street, Curators will be in Margaret street.

Adding to this is the news that Wahaca have been granted a licence to open on the north-east corner of Great Portland and Margaret in a 2,500 sqf ground and basement location with massive windows overlooking the junction. I'm sure building works will probably start soon.

Of course we also have Fitzroy Place opening on the site of the old Middlesex Hospital at the end of the year with over 220,000 sqf of office space. Estee lauder have taken one of the whole offices with 140,000 sqf, and there is over 300 apartments already sold on site as well, and a 5,000 sqf restaurant opening in the middle of building, overlooking the square and old church.

So yes, it's all happening in Fitzrovia West. We hope you can come and visit too.

Please enjoy the menu this week, as we will enjoy bringing it to you.


Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin: Pear and passion fruit 2.40
Savoury Scone: Apple, mustard, thyme and cheddar 2.40
Yarrow and blood orange friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch
French retro baguettes 5.00
Bresaola, pear, gorgonzola, candied walnuts and rocket.
Asparagus, mustard and cheese fondue, gherkin and spinach

Foccacias 5.30
Pancetta, avocado, tomato, aioli and rocket
St Georges mushrooms, sautéed red onions, brie and spinach

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Chicken adobo salad with camargue red rice and coriander
Fennel, radicchio, goats curd, lemon and green olives
Roasted spring vegetables tossed in a spicy Mediterranean dressing

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Baked risotto tart with maple, parma ham and thyme

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Week beginning April 7th - Easter Trading Hours & Hasbean Coffee

Just a short note this week to let you know about our Easter Trading hours. The strange thing is, at least as far as I remember, is that in Australia everyone has Good Friday off, while here in the U.K. it is by law that all major shops much have Easter Sunday off.

Anyway, here are our Easter Trading Hours.

Good Friday 8:30 am to 6 pm
Saturday 8:30 am to 6 pm
Easter Sunday Closed
Easter Monday 8:30 am to 6 pm

The other amazing news is that if you are in town over Easter, we are very proud to be able to profile the roaster Hasbean for the first time. It will be running from the Friday and we have 2 kilos only of the Bolivian washed Caturra with some retail bags available too.

http://www.hasbean.co.uk/products/bolivia-finca-david-vilca-caturra-washed

We are very much looking forward to it.

Have a great week and please enjoy our menu.

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin: Blueberry and bran 2.40
Savoury Scone: Four cheese and ramsons 2.40
Yarrow and blood orange friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch
French retro baguettes 5.00
Crispy chicken with chilli, mint yoghurt dressing, red onion, avocado, rocket
Tomato, mozzarella, chimichurri, spinach

Foccacias 5.30
Ham, tomato, spicy oregano dressing, parmesan, rocket
Sweet potato cooked in sugar and vinegar, brie, basil, spinach

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Sang choy bow salad with pork and breakfast radish
Orange, watercress, chicory, garlic mustard and chalky white cheese (forage item)
Roasted beetroot with raspberry vinegar

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Crab, sea kale and dattander

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Week beginning March 31st - When systems fail, chaos reins - Jason Atherton

You probably cannot get more of an informed point of view than Jason Atherton at the moment, and in an interview in the Caterer magazine last week, they asked him about how he manages to maintain his standards with all the openings of restaurants he has had recently.

One of the answers was about the importance of systems and he used the example that if a plate is returned during service there is no way the waiter will bring it back directly to the pass. The system is that the waiter will ask the chef for two minutes of his time away from the pass and explain the problem quietly and efficiently.

This is a recognised, trained and accepted system within his restaurants and if it is not followed, then 'chaos reins'.

Systems are so important to the running of ANYTHING that is deemed or wishes to be deemed as professional, whether it be a sports team or player, a high end kitchen, McDonalds restaurants or even the Armed forces.

We are very much into systems here at the moment (well we have been for ages really), because also as Jason says, once these systems are tried and tested within one place, they can be transferred to another and the staff know what to do, how to do it and when to do it. It makes things all that more simple.

For example in the sink area, all the dishes are stacked in a certain way before rinsing & the cutlery is placed in the soaking tray all facing the one way. At certain points of the day (10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 5 pm) the managers and the baristas all have jobs to do before anything else is done. If these jobs are not done, if these systems are not followed, then chaos reins.

A smooth, efficient, happy, busy service is the dream of hospitality. Music pumping, customers happy, staff working easily,  systems in place - basically, nothing going wrong. All working to a system.

This is also very much highlighted in an excellent book I have read a number of times - The E-myth revisited. Systems, systems, systems. The book is mainly set up to talk about how franchises work and that the first business you have is like a prototype, whereby you can start to think about, implement and document all the systems that, if you so desire, will then be able to be turned out into the next 5, 10, 20, 50 or in the case of McDonalds, 34,000 businesses.

Or you can choose not to, but you know what will happen if you don't.

Please enjoy the menu this week and we will systematically, but still with personality and hospitality, enjoy bringing it to you.

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin:Red plum and ginger 2.40
Savoury Scone: Asparagus, mustard and Gruyère 2.40
Yarrow and blood orange friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch:
Soup: 4.50
Coffee and beef with semolina bread

French retro baguettes 5.00
Ham, gherkin, red onion, Gruyère, dijon and rocket
Roasted red peppers, courgette, red onion, olive tepenade and spinach.

Foccacias 5.30
Pancetta, baked apple, brie, aioli and spinach
Mushrooms, fennel, mustard cheese sauce and rocket

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Citrus prawns with paprika purple sprouting broccoli, Darwin's barberry and coriander mayonnaise
Pickled hispi cabbage with horseradish, juniper, caraway, mustard and ham
Spaghetti plant with a parsley pesto dressing and mini ramsons

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Roasted alexanders and blue cheese quiche.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Week beginning March 24th - Shots per kilo

I feel a bit silly that we have only just started doing this. Perhaps every other cafe out there does it already and we are just a bit behind. The question was raised, how many shots do we get per kilo and how do we prove it?

The fact is, that question has always been raised and it has only ever been an estimate. If you are dosing at 19 grams then that's simply 52 shots per kilo. But you have to allow for wastage, dialling in, staff coffees, mistakes so.... 'let's make a guess, maybe 40?'

So we started checking. We created a spreadsheet where we record all the necessary information over a week. We bought some digital bathroom scales. We still use the buckets that Square Mile used to deliver their coffee in, so we weighed how much an empty bucket is (410 grams).

Each morning, we weigh the coffee in its bucket then minus the weight of the bucket to get weight of beans. We then keep all the buckets we use through the day, at the end of the day we weigh the coffee again (and minus the bucket).

Opening stock, plus stock used (purchases) minus closing stock. The simplest method of stocktaking that you learn in day one of accounting. This gives us how many kilos we have used each day, which is another great measuring and ordering tool. We then refer to our Aireus Ipad till system and work out how many espresso drinks we have sold, divide that by the kilos used to get 'shots per kilo'. It's fascinating.

I'm not going to go into the details of how many kilos we use or how many shots we get, but what is interesting is seeing any variances. Really we should be getting consistent spk's (I just made that up, cool huh?) and when we don't, we should be able to identify a reason why.

But lets take a number and use 10 kilos per day as an example. If you are getting consistently 40 spks and then one day you only get 30, that means that over the whole day you have lost 100 shots. 100! If your average coffee retail price at £2.50, then that is £250 of lost revenue. What the...?

Now the end of day text from the manager on duty is takings/total coffees/till variances and the spk's. We have a new goal to aim for and achieve each day. The higher the shots per kilo while still using the same dose weight, and the more consistent over a range of days, the better. Another way to say to our hard working baristas, thank you well done.

So here is a question for you. How much are you dosing at? (Most people would probably know that). And how many shots do you get per kilo and do you have the records to prove it?

Please enjoy our wonderful Spring cleaning menu for this week, as we will enjoy bringing it to you.


Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin: Raspberry and marshmallow  2.40
Savoury Scone: Crushed curried peas and red Leicester cheese 2.40
Rhubarb friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch:
Soup: 4.50
Romero pepper, olive and orzo with semolina bread
French retro baguettes 5.00
Ham, lychee, ginger and chilli mascarpone, avocado, cucumber and rocket
Smoked salmon, pesto, tomato, red onion, and spinach.

Foccacias 5.30
Pancetta, jalapeño cheese, roasted fennel and rocket
Panko crumbed butternut with sweet chilli sauce, coriander, brie and spinach

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Tuna, cannelini beans, sea aster, pine nuts, capers, shrimp with a light tomato dressing
Black rice with blanched pepperwort broccoli, pecan, poppy seeds, red onions pickled in rice wine vinegar 
Salsify in a cheese and ramson sauce.

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Fried polenta with ash goats cheese, crushed avocado, roasted cherry tomatoes and scrurvy grass flowers

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Week beginning March 17th - St Patricks Day menu

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin: Cox apple and blackberry 2.40
Savoury Scone: Tomato and mozzarella 2.40
Rhubarb friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch:
Soup: 4.50
Leek and potato

French retro baguettes 5.00
Ham, roast rhubarb, mature cheddar, basil, spinach
Hummous, grated cheddar, piri piri sauce, avocado, red onion, spinach

Foccacias 5.30
Pancetta with glazed yellow plums, perl wen, rocket
Roast aubergine, chilli mayonnaise, feta and spinach

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Salmon fillet marinated with Irish whiskey, honey, roast new potatoes, green beans and watercress
Roast parsnips with honey chilli dressing
Quinoa with roast cherry tomatoes, cashew nits and parsley

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Beef and Guiness and cheese pie

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Week beginning March 3rd - Get it fixed

A very good manager I worked with a long time ago taught me this. If something is wrong or broken, fix it immediately. If something needs to happen to make the work of your staff all that easier, do it as soon as possible. If you need a new piece of equipment that will improve the quality of your product and your efficiency, buy it now. (within reason of course).

It seems like common sense, and it is, but in the rush of hospitality and within the pressures of business, it is easy to just let things slide. The thing is, as the owner, if you don't fix it, or buy it, or do it, then no-one will. And then your standards start to fall. And the respect you should have from your staff starts to slip.

I read somewhere once a very good method for this is to have a little pocket notebook that you write down everything in as soon as you see or hear about it, so then you can get it done.

I just use my iPhone notes section. For example one of our superstars asked me today, 'can we please have a separate set of tongs to be able to get the butter circles we cut from the Lescure butter rolls onto the plates that we use for banana bread or toast'. Brilliant idea.

So I type that into my notes,  I have a section called 'Remember' which often has 20 or 30 points in it. Then when I get to sit down I write it in my 'to do list' in my diary. The key point then is of course to action it, as soon as possible.

But what if you don't action it, or forget about it, it's so easy to forget. Not only this one point, but any of the million and one brilliant ideas/improvements/DIY jobs/equipment requests your staff hit you with continuously.

I know how I would feel as a staff member. Not valued.

Now you can't do all of them, not all are practical or commercially viable, but most of them are. If you explain the reasons why it is not viable, that is a good start too.

Keeping on top of these things is really, really hard, but it is really, really necessary. And it is an integral part of keeping your business at it's peak performance at all times.

(I'm off now to buy a new flat head screwdriver so we can change our Anfim grinder burrs tonight, otherwise who else is going to?)

Please enjoy the menu for this week, as we will enjoy bringing it to you.

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin: Yarrow tiramisu pan-cake 2.40
Savoury Scone: Protein pretzel 2.40
Rhubarb friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch:
Soup: Spiced lentil 4.50

French retro baguettes 5.00
Ham, grapefruit mayonnaise, avocado, tomato, rocket
Aubergine, sweet chilli, thai basil, goats cheese, spinach

Foccacias 5.30
Smoked salmon, buckthorn hollandaise sauce, cucumber, spinach
Tomato, mozzarella, pesto and rocket

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Black rice, wild cabbage, almonds, roasted potatoes, pickled lemon and black pepper.
Rhubarb, hot smoked salmon, glass noodles, celery, carrot, chilli, fish sauce, peanuts, coriander and mint
Roasted purple mooli and green beans with ash cheese.

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Semolina pastry filled with almonds and ricotta, potato and spinach

Friday, 21 February 2014

Week beginning February 24th - St David's Day (Welsh Day) menu & UK Coffee Leaders Summit

This week we celebrate St Davids Day, who is the patron saint of Wales, as his feast day falls on March the 1st each year. Chef Jared has designed a special menu of Welsh recipes, ingredients and foraged items to help celebrate. More information on his ideas can be found on the 'menu' page.

In other news this week, I am honoured to have been selected to be on a speaking panel at the annual UK Coffee Leaders summit. The panel consists of six representatives from the specialty coffee industry from roasters such as Steve Leighton from Has Bean and Emma Loisel from Volcano Coffee to UK Barista champion Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood from Colonna and Smalls in Bath and Tom Hyde from Brew Lab & Edwin Harrison from Artisan in Edinburgh.

We will all be asked questions individually with the opportunity for the rest of the panel to answer, discuss, argue and stay quiet and then the possibility of questions from the audience. My question is 'how easy is it to maintain costs while delivering a great coffee experience?' Quite simply - very difficult indeed.

Anyway, we will see how it all goes on Wednesday. It is being held at our local five star Hotel, the Langham, so I am very happy indeed.

http://www.ukcoffeeleadersummit.com/

Please enjoy this weeks Welsh menu, as we will certainly enjoy bringing it to you.

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40
Porridge with choices of cinnamon, dried fruit, chopped nuts, honey, golden syrup or compote 3.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet Muffin: Welsh cakes 2.40
Savoury Scone: Mushroom and tarragon 2.40
Blueberry and coconut friands 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Afgan Biscuits 2.00

Lunch:
Soup: Cawl broth 4.50

French retro baguettes 5.00
Ham, caramelized leeks, mature cheddar and rocket
Prunes glazed in red wine reduction, mushrooms, perl wen cheese, spinach

Foccacias 5.30
Salmon, ailoi, dill, capers, red onion, spinach
Roasted courgettes with feta, mint, crushed peas and rocket.

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Roasted lamb with bara brith stuffing, micro ramsons and a dressing of honey and raspberry vinegar
Roasted carrots and celery toasted in welsh goats cheese, and rock samphire
Shredded rainbow chard and ivy-leaved toadflax with a clarified ginger butter and brandy dressing

Tart: 4.40 or 7.90 with salad
Leek and welsh rarebit