To dinner recently at Envy, one of my favourite restaurants, whilst across in Amsterdam to run an event with our Dutch colleagues. A family appears at the next table – son in his 20s, parents in their 50s. They read through the menu, then call the waiter over.
The mother speaks up. “See, we all want to try the same thing, but my son’s vegetarian, my husband’s allergic to dairy products, and I don’t eat mushrooms. So we wondered – could you do us the ‘Creamy mushroom risotto’ without the cream or mushrooms?”
The waiter – just – restrained herself from checking whether any of them had an allergy to rice, heading off to the kitchen to consult with chef, and returning to explain – very politely – that there really wouldn’t be much left of the dish. At which said family decided to leave and find another restaurant.
But there is a danger in this. Had the waitress followed the approach of many bid teams, she’d presumably have brought out a plate of the regular creamy mushroom risotto, and hang the consequences. “Cream? No, sir, that’s very thick stock. Mushrooms, madam? Of course not: have you never tried Dutch beans?”