Bon Appétit in Ramsgate

 is walking distance from my house. Based on my one visit on a mums’ night out I would highly recommend the restaurant and so does Mark Palmer in the Daily Telegraph.

It is French, of course, the menu is for the dairy-loving carnivore. With just 2 hours notice they were able to come up with a delicious choice of vegan options for one guest, which is the sign of a good chef. Now, let me tell you, I don’t do food reviews. My vocabulary has no adjectives which can be applied to comestibles. The food was interesting delicious, portions sizes were generous. The food was excellent, fresh, tasty, interesting and well presented. Bon Appétit is expensive (relative to the area), but you get what you pay for (expect to pay £25-£40pp (depending on how much you like your puddings and alcohol), it is worth it. In an elevated position under the Royal Harbour Yacht Club it has a great view over the harbour.

Whenever a large group go to dinner, that tricky issue of the bill with inevitably arise. I hoped someone would say, “Don’t worry everyone, I’ll get this”! I ‘ve been for dinner with strangers many times. I remember once being most impressed by the local lawyer sitting next to me who suddenly produced a tiny note of everything he had, with the price. He had obviously written this, very discretely, through the evening. As a regular member of that group he told me the end of the evening was always chaotic as everyone paid for what they had eaten.

With another group that I regularly eat with we also pay for our own meal. I have no problem doing a quick mental tally of my own consumption, but I’ve always been impressed by the woman who brings her calculator and works it out to the penny (no rounding it up to the nearest pound) she then meticulously adds on 12.5%. Actually she multiplies by 1.125 as she is using a scientific machine. She’s a girl with a math’s degree on a budget!

The mum’s divided the bill equally, always a recipe for confrontation among strangers! Who didn’t have a pudding? Who only drank tap water? Not me – I ate and drank as much as I could! You don’t keep this wobbly tummy without working on it!  How much should we leave as a tip? At least 12.5% is a minimum guideline if you have had good food and good service.

I heard a very interesting programme on Radio 4 this week. Did you know that it is legal and common in the restaurant business to pay staff less than the minimum wage! It is expected that wages will be made up by tips AND income tax is paid on those tips. If you had a good night out, with good service and sat at a table for several hours, the least you can do is reward the low paid staff with the best tip you can afford! 10% is the absolute minimum, in my opinion, 15-20% is quite reasonable. I’m known for being thrifty, so if I don’t feel I can afford the tip then I would eat somewhere cheaper – Beano Cafe have a good reputation! 

I’m sure buffet, eat as much as you can type places thrive because of groups of strangers. At such places the food might be somewhere between awful to palatable. At least there is not much chance of arguing over the bill and a generous tip might not be required.

By the way, if you check out the review for Bon Appétit (link above) you will note Ramsgate is up and coming! The author mentions that we have a Waitrose and a Cafe Nero. Mr Tara Plumbing recalls the Waitrose opening in the early 1980’s and as an apprentice plumber he worked in there at one of its refits in the 1980’s. Apparently it was built on the site of a former brewery.

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