We should be proud of our food and drink heritage in Suffolk. It is one of the finest places to eat in the country. So it was no mean feat to judge the Best Restaurant Category for publisher's Archant, the promoters of the awards. Armed with score sheets and an insatiable appetite to sample multiple courses and many meals, the very worthy winner was The Unruly Pig at Bromeswell. Runners up were The Bildeston Crown, 1921 and Tuddenham Mill. All areas of the businesses were scrutinised in the judging process, including pre-arrival booking processes, the welcome, menu knowledge, wine service, cleanliness as well as the quality and presentation of the food. Pictured above are head Chef Dave Wall and owner Brendan Padfield from The Unruly Pig.
It's not always about fine dining. It's really important to be able to assess "quality in context". Recently I have been working on the Motorway Services, assessing quality in service stations for VisitEngland. This includes the forecourts and service areas. It might mean buying more than my fair share of McDonalds, KFC, Harry Ramsdens or burgers like this. And always a newspaper from WHSmith and a yoghurt from M&S or Waitrose (to see if I get offered a spoon)
A glimpse of the blinding obvious
Understanding services from a customers point of view is so important. What is blindingly obvious to a customer isn't always so obvious to a business owner. So you need to step back and take a good look at yourself sometimes and listen to your customers! Or consider a mystery guest visit to get some really valuable feedback about your business.
Today saw the launch of the Eating Out in the Broads guide. I visited and assessed (with a little help) most of the eating establishment situated within the Broads Authority. The launch took place at one of my favourite hotels. The Norfolk Mead Hotel in Coltishall.
For those of you that think I have a dream job. Here are the figures. In the last two months I have dined out on more than 60 occasions. I ate belly of pork 6 times, 8 curries, 8 fish pies, a handmade burger on 9 occasions, endless sausage rolls and cheese scones. Not to mention the 4 lemon possets, 5 slices of cheesecake, apple crumbles and cheeseboards. I think I added it up to 67,680 calories. No wonder my trousers are tight!