My friend Gary says his mom doesn’t rate restaurants on price or design, or even food, but on efficiency. When he was visiting her recently, he asked her where they should go for dinner and she said, “Oh, we’ll definitely go to the good Chinese restaurant in town; you can have three courses and still be out in under 45 minutes.
Now, while I can’t compete with that kind of speed-eating, I’ve noticed that me and the other half aren’t exactly restos. During the day, we talk about what we need to do, catch up on what we’re working on, share fun times, and sometimes bicker (how doesn’t he know how to fold napkins the right way after all these years? ). So when we go out for dinner it’s not like we’re on a first date and sometimes I realize that we’re asking for the bill when the neighboring tables have barely tackled the amuse-bouche.
But last Sunday, we were in Palma de Mallorca and went to lunch at Cor Barra i Taula, a restaurant right next to the covered food market, Mercat de l’Olivar. It is always out of season in Palma and on Sundays the market is closed so Cor was quiet. In the downstairs bar there were only a few people drinking and the upstairs dining room was only half full. And yet it was close to perfect: the winter sun lit up the room; the staff were busy but all the diners around us were taking it slow. A baby crawled on the floor as his parents caught up with old friends. An elderly couple next to us were dressed for the occasion and relished every dish and every moment. Our food – plump and golden bacalao croquettes, a plate of sparkling padron peppers adorned with flakes of pure white salt, bread drizzled with olive oil – came at an easy pace. The verdejo seemed to offer a promise of the summer to come. And somewhere, no doubt, a clock ticked – but not here. The hours passed; the phones remained in the pockets. I told him: next time we will go to the Chinese.
The expandable hose we have on the patio for watering the plants split, so whoever can’t fold the towels ordered a replacement online. He just arrived. The brand name? homozed. How did they know? Either way, he promises that he “won’t go kinky” and that he’ll reach three times his flaccid length. All in all, I think we’ll be very happy.
The South Korean ambassador and his team had invited me and a team of editors from Monocle to lunch at his house. Then, the day before, he tested positive for coronavirus. But the diplomatic team at the Embassy were keen to put pressure on us and so we headed to South Kensington on Tuesday. Now I’m not a tanker or a vehicle snob but…Josh the editor of Monocle was tasked with ordering a car for all of us and I don’t know what button he pressed but he pulled it off to get us a miniature van that looked like his next stop would be a junkyard. His seats were torn, the floor dirty, and for some reason the driver had a pile of dishcloths and rags next to him. We asked the driver to drop us off a safe distance from the front door of the residence and I booked Josh for a brand awareness course.
On Thursday we had a drink for our staff at Chiltern Firehouse, the Andre Balazs Hotel which is only a short walk from Monocle’s London headquarters, Midori House. The party was held to mark Monocle’s 15th anniversary and I woke up Friday wondering if I’d shot a negroni in each of those years. We’ve come through so much through this time of crisis, so there was a lot to celebrate. But for managers, it is also important for us not only to look back, but also to put the company and its potential in the hands of new people every day. There was a time when I was talking with Lex, Amara, Carol, Kamila and Paige (all school kids I guess when we started) and I felt very confident hearing them explain how they see Monocle and what it can and will be in the future. Brands are built on repetition – and some change too.
Ultimately. After some delays we have opened the new Monocle Shop on Chiltern Street between Firehouse and Midori. She’s a corker. Come visit. The team will be happy to show you around and take your money.