Last week I got rather unceremoniously dumped out on my arse from the English pub I had been working in (long story). In part the owner wanted to go back to serving shit like frozen burgers and knew full well I wasn’t going to play that game.

So now I am seriously considering the notion of trying to open my own place. I absolutely loved the cheffing side of things, creating dishes etc. and the feedback I got was extremely encouraging, so I think with a bit of hard work on my part I should be able to make a reasonable go of it.

I also have the possibility of doing 3 months work experience here:

It’s currently ranked as the 57th best restaurant in the world (quite how one compiles such a ranking is beyond me, but either way it’s seriously impressive). The Wench is perfectly amenable to my going away for that length of time etc. which would have been the only other major obstacle.

The question for all of you is what is the most enjoyable food experience you’ve ever had, and why?

Eating pussy jokes will get a QI clanger.

A grim burger from a carpark kiosk after cycling 120 miles in shitty weather

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Amazing to get that opportunity.

But it’s a long way North. They even refer to Fetlar residents as poncy Southerners up there.

Yeah, my brother already lives up there (he’s about 50km away from the restaurant), and might actually be trying to get a place there as well as he’s also a chef.

He’s going to be talking to them this weekend for both of us, so I’ll know more then. I think the deal is that it’s unpaid, but they provide things like accommodation. It’s also not like I eat a lot these days post operation.

Good luck :+1: it can be done. I know a guy who quit his IT career relatively late in life and now has a successful place. He did exactly what you’re considering doing- he got experience/apprenticed for a while even though financially he probably could have jumped straight in and opened somewhere. Pretty sure he even started as a waiter.

He chose the food for his place based on what he was passionate about, rather than the best choice from a market point of view. He did his training in that type of restaurant- I guess to get a feel for what customers in the area wanted

I know people who have launched and ran their own restaurants - its fucking hard work and will take over your life. All the smart ones sold at the peak after 3-4 years and did that again 2 or 3 times to set themselves up.

Kinda depends what you’re looking for out of it really. But if you really wanna do it then go for it and you can have no regrets.

We don’t have the money, to eat at really nice places, are even good ones, very often.
One of the many things that make for a good meal, are out of your hands, in many ways.
Front of house, polite, efficient, prompt service. Relaxed atmosphere, drinks arrive quickly. Your staff are crucial!
Small quality selection, rather than one of everything. Good portion sizes, not massive, or tiny.
Make the food look good, but not fussy.
Real food, at real world prices, local, as much as possible, and regional.
The restaurant has to have a bit of atmosphere, but it is not the main thing.
People will return for good, honest food, cooked well, and presented in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere.
Good luck. Would be great if you can make a living, doing something you love.
All the best.

I think the fundamental driving force for me is that I am a “feeder” as you might call it.

So the notion of having a kitchen that is very open onto the dining area is hugely appealing, so that I can see everything that’s going on etc.

Other than that I largely just want to cook food; not tied to a particular cuisine or region, as I like to have the space to experiment and play around with things. I’m not likely to get as weird as someone like Heston with the food combinations, but the occasional surprise within the menu is definitely my kind of thing.

Then hold dinner parties, don’t open a restaurant.

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What about a table where everyone gets plugged into a garage when they sit down and you ram your choices into them relentlessly for an agreed length of time

Name could be some sort of pun on fois gras

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Remember, don’t use plates. Roof tiles, bits of carpet, shoes, watering cans, garden tools.


Yes, 3 degrees further North than Fetlar. I feel humbled.

But, yes, an fantastic opportunity to hone your skills. If you’re passionate about it, and I suspect you are, why not give it a go. Doing something you love can only be a good thing.

In Edinburgh, there are a couple of restaurants that I really enjoyed where the food is not tied to a particular cuisine, but is reliably and consistently very well cooked with balanced flavours and a well chosen price point. Certainly three birds is always rammed and has been for a number of years now

I don’t know anything about the restaurant business, but I imagine that there is quite a long “valley of death” for restaurants targeting the fine dining crowd, unless you are a chef graduating from the kitchen of a renowned chef perhaps. I remember hearing that somewhere like Wisharts (Michelin star) in Edinburgh loses money on the food and makes their money on the wine. I imagine that relies on attracting a wealthy clientele.

You can’t go wrong with offering really garlicky garlic fries!

Yep as mentioned, I’m sure your chefing skills will be fine, but running a restaurant also requires business acumen. The initial cost for the premises, fit-out and kit should also be considered.

Wow, have you seen the episode of “At the Chef’s Table” on Netflix about that place? Fascinating. I have no desire to be a professional chef, but if I could do 3 months there, I’d go.

I think it depends on what sort of dining experience you want to provide. For me, the best meals have been the ones that combined really fresh tastes (with lots of fresh herbs and other interesting flavours) with a really intense sauce. Combine that with good meat well cooked, and ideally with a side that has an interesting texture.

While getting the balance right is important, I’d rather have interesting flavours and lose some balance than have dull or common ingredients done perfectly.

I used to think that this was something I would to do. I know about 10 to 12 people who have attempted this and quite a few more who have done the cocktail bar thing. And it is true what they say that 80% of such ventures fail within the first year.

My observations are that opening a bar that does food is more likely to succeed than a restaurant.

From these friends, I have learnt quite a lot about the business, enough to tell me that despite the lure of the hot top, it isn’t for me. I have spent the odd service in the kitchen of some of these places.

One of those people, had trouble pricing his menu and understanding forensically what the cost of each plate of food was.

I have another friend who is very successful, has Michelin stars to his name for some restaurants, and I remember him showing me his spreadsheets where he tracks the income and cost of every plate of food, and how that contributes to his overheads…he said the only way to be successful is to be forensic about it - to ensure every dish over its life makes sufficient profit. I asked him whether that just applied to fine dining, and he said no, if all bistros, bars etc understood this, then fewer would fail.

He spends more time doing this than cooking - he still does (and all credit to him) most of the evening services in his restaurant.

Wine and booze are a bonus, but of course there are costs associated with that.

Interestingly, the purchase of kit was always less than anticipated, as so many failed kitchens were flogging their kit 2nd hand.

Don’t forget any legislative requirements you might need to satisfy for running a kitchen (food hygiene etc)…

I looked over the 3B DINNER menu at Three Birds restaurant. Umm, what exactly is a ‘heritage carrot’ as mentioned in the Mains?
Reminds me of some Estate Agent gobblydegook I once read ‘All Rooms Scalable’. Wot?

the ones that don’t tend to be orange.
Running a restaurant is very hard work indeed but if you really want to do it go for it. Personally I would look to take over an established place with known figures and make it yours with your look, vision, menu and cooking of course.