Sunday, 14 October 2012

Mission Statement (Lines Written on a Ferry, Somewhat Awkwardly, at the Behest of a PR Man)

The English Restaurant is, or aspires to be... (Op. Cit. Roget’s Thesaurus): mainstream (not recondite), accessible (not exclusive), demotic (not patrician), traditional (not modern), ambitious (not complacent), friendly (not stuffy), sensitive (not superior), attentive (not neglectful), courteous, respectful (not laddish, vulgar), outward-looking (not self-absorbed), vieille (not nouvelle), plain (not poncey) and therefore (it may be supposed): substance (not hollow form).
We offer seven days per week of all day dining to a high standard. Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner menus follow each other in quick succession. We aim to animate our restaurant all through the day, luring in customers in the mornings with famously good coffee, freshly-squeezed orange juice and poached eggs, all the way through to cocktails, fine wines and fine dining at night. Our mission is to please, by first and foremost giving people what they desire, selecting from a wide range of attractive dishes and high-quality beverages – all at sensible, affordable prices. We are – have always been – noted as a meeting place for all manner of people, and hub for the local community: workers, residents and sojourners alike.
We have a vast, purpose-built modern kitchen, one of the very best in the City, which we constructed ourselves in a new cellar under our building. We produce all our own food there from fresh ingredients. We source only the highest quality goods for our restaurant, drawing freely from all the major London wholesale meat, fish and vegetable markets. We are licensed to import wines from France, and ship wines ourselves direct from producers in each of the major regions. Buying like this in bulk, ‘ex cellars’, we constantly grow our knowledge and experience about wine and find we can pass on real value to our customers. Equipped with a very large off-site cellar, we may offer hand-chosen bottles from vignerons, or winemakers, we actually know and speak with often, in addition to our back-list of aged Clarets and Burgundies. Among our chef’s brigade we may boast a wide range of skills enabling us to revisit culinary classics as well as delighting in the endless possibilities of fish, seafood and game. We employ a dedicated pastry-chef who bakes every day breakfast goods, cakes, pastries, scones, tarts, biscuits, desserts and puddings.
We are English in our professed restaurant culture and orientation, but admit to strong Francophile tendencies. We admire the ‘foreign chefs’ (to quote Dorothy Hartley, Food in England), and frequently borrow their ideas, even going so far as to employ them once in a while in our kitchen! Our chefs are all classically-trained, and come to us with an impressive portfolio of skills and experience. At their fingertips, we aim to keep alive the great traditions of the English kitchen, with savoury steamed puddings and oven-baked pies, roast meats with their sauces, generous servings of flavourful seasonal vegetables, poultry, terrines and home-smoked meats, stocks and wine reductions, fish, seafood and game in season all cooked with consummate skill and flare.
We reside in a large, beautiful, historic building over three floors, parts of which date from the Seventeenth Century, enjoying a prominent position in the heart of Spitalfields. We are opposite an ancient marketplace, in the midst now of great modern banking halls, insurance companies and multinational law firms, whilst centrally located within a few minutes walk of Liverpool Street Station. Our dark oak, wood-panelled dining rooms and picturesque bar make a soothing refuge from the gleaming towers and sterile modernity which has to some extent enveloped the City of London. In the midst of all this we are independent, individual and determined to remain unshackled and happily in pursuit of our own self-chosen goals.
We can offer event catering and dining for parties on our first floor of up to fifty people. We have frequently hosted wedding receptions, birthday parties, book launches, business lunches, breakfasts and dinners, as well as of course drinks parties with canapés and hot finger food. There is a baby grand piano in the room, and live entertainment is often a feature of these gatherings. We are proud to annually host ‘Tafelmusic’ for Spitalfields Music, with sit-down dining accompanied by exquisite period music for up to eighty people. A fully-panelled private dining room, with open fire, may be booked for up to sixteen people, arranged around a George I mahogany dining table. Live jazz music plays twice a week (Wednesdays and Fridays) near the downstairs bar, for a relaxed and buzzy atmosphere. There is no entry fee.
We aspire to be friendly, relaxed and efficient. Our culture is one of civility, decency and moderation. We are proud of our sense of belonging in our community – and connect with this at many points. We are a family-owned, independent business, but still somewhat in our infancy as a restaurant. Everything we have, we have made ourselves, by our own efforts. It may be that sometimes we fall short of the high standards we set ourselves, but we hope we are making steady progress in the right direction.
We are not corporate. We are not a chain. We are not owned by banks or investors. Our business is paid for and our building is our own. We think our situation is pretty unique for Central London, and is worth hanging on to and slowly building stronger. We hope you agree.