I’m sure you’ve all seen the brilliant post from a restaurant manager in response to a negative Trip Advisor review that’s doing the rounds of Social Media at the minute. The reviewer complained at being charged for a pot of hot water and lemon. The manager quite politely explained the costs associated with bringing that item to the table and the whole damn thing went viral! Check it out here>>>
Sitting on Facebook I could see it was attracting some very loud applause from our local Perthshire restaurant owners and chefs and it made us question just how much we, the general public, know about what goes into pricing and costing a menu.
We decided to go straight to the top of the tree and called Graeme Pallister of 63 Tay Street. Graeme has owned his Perth city centre restaurant for some ten years now (I remember writing the story on him taking over from Jeremy Wares). He has won Scottish Chef Of The Year and countless other awards over his long and passionate career.
Let's just say he's costed a menu or two in his time.
63 Tay Street currently offers three courses on their a la carte menu for a total of £42. Is that expensive? It is certainly a bit more than some and so we challenged Graeme to explain just how he arrived at his price and what value means when we chat about eating in a family-owned restaurant.
"Let's start with exaplaining what three courses really means in a restaurant like 63 Tay Street. It gives you a starter, main course and dessert (as you’d expect!). It also gives you an amuse bouche, homemade bread and homemade butter and an intermediate between your starter and your main.
And when I say amuse bouche, I’m not talking about a basket of bread - you get that anyway, like I said it’s been homemade that day. I’m taking about a Jerusalem artichoke soup cup or a blue cheese and walnut salad or maybe a wee tasting of Dunkled Smoked Salmon.
All of this is served on linen table clothes, with silver cutlery, proper linen napkins and sparkling glassware. These little details matter when it comes to enjoying a dining experience and I can tell you that you will receive the same exacting standards at lunch, dinner, slow food events and for the mid-week winter menu.
I’d like to say that the business plan I wrote ten years ago has stood me in good stead but of course, as costs have gone up (skyrocketed more like!) the general public have been left with less money in real terms and lower disposable incomes in their pockets. Unless you are very clever, I’m sure your pension is as shot to ribbons as mine is. Quite frankly, it’s a margin pricing nightmare; we simply cannot put the prices up in line with overall costs.
Thankfully, I can put my hand on my heart and say that it has never been about the money for me. I am driven by passion – and a very old rented car! If I wanted to get rich I’d make pizza or popcorn which is why I sometimes feel a bit like the manager from the Trip Advisor article when I hear people say that we're expensive.
All of our produce is sourced ethically meaning we look for the best possible ingredients and support the Scottish artisan food industry by buying directly from producers or using distributors who we know give these guys a fair price.
Yes, it’s cheaper to go en masse to Europe but environmentally, seasonally and economically speaking, it’s just plain wrong. Buying from home is expensive (why is that?) but that’s exactly what we do and more than that, it’s what our customers expect and appreciate. It’s why I signed on to the long shifts and anti-social hours. I wouldn’t DARE do it differently.
For me, it's this ethos that has seen us chosen as the venue for countless proposals, for friends reuniting, for families celebrating, for weddings, anniversaries and so much more. I can hold my head up high – we all can – and say that we do it properly. However, it doesn’t make a quiet Tuesday night any easier!
Let me explain why I think 63 Tay Street is more than just a special occasion venue. You can come for lunch or dinner and spend £13 on a main course. That’s about the same price as a Pizza Express Pizza with a teeny wee bowl of canned olives.
In 63 Tay Street you’ll get a table, as I described, laid out with linen, silver and glassware. Homemade bread and homemade butter. An amuse bouche to whet your appetite followed by a main course of local, seasonal produce cooked with love and attention and served with pride.
If you’d like a glass of wine to enjoy while you eat, you can ask the advice of Ralph, whose knowledge on our extensive bins is unsurpassed. We’ll smile, we’ll care, we’ll want you to love every last detail.
That, my friends, is what we in the trade called amazing value for money." - Graeme Pallister
And so say all of us here at #SmallCity! The fact is that when you choose 63 Tay Street, or any other family owned restaurant or cafe in Perthshire, over a chain, YOU make a direct difference to our local economy. You are supporting a family and helping to pay the wages of people who live and work right here in your area.
You become part of the solution, part of the #PerthLoveFest and your choice ensures we don’t turn into another homogenised, mass-market city centre without purpose or passion. Independent businesses breathe life and soul into Perth and I'd like to thank Graeme for showcasing exactly what value can mean at all ends of the market.
Graeme's New 'Mid Week Express’ menu will change weekly and offers a set three courses for exceptional value. Especially true after what we've just read! Call 01738 441451 to book.
Mid Week Menu from 19th - 28th January, Tuesday to Thursday Nights
Leek, potato & lemon velouté
Stornoway black pudding & Carey House hen’s egg
Our poached baby gammon
Parsley sauce, buttered carrots & parmesan
Baked egg custard tart
Vanilla ice cream
2 courses £17 - 3 courses £22