The strangest of dining experiences recently just cried out to be blogged…
A very dear friend was about to relocate from Dublin to London. To celebrate, we headed out for dinner to a restaurant regarded as the best in Ireland, being the only such in the country to hold two Michelin stars.
Now, I’ve worked my way through a fair few tasting menus in my time – and often find they’re a good way to enjoy some of the chef’s signature dishes. So we smiled, agreed to his suggestion, ruled out avocado or oysters, and waited to be shown to our table. And a final meal out before moving countries? Yes, I guess that’s a ’special occasion’ – and it was the sort of place one would, frankly, only eat in if there was something to mark or celebrate.
During our wait, other guests started to drift in. They too were greeted warmly and shown to their sofas – before being handed menus. Why, we wondered, hadn’t we been offered the same option?
Equally bizarrely, the sommelier appeared with a voluminous wine list for our perusal. Yet, of course, we had no idea whatsoever would appear on our plates – so how were we supposed to choose appropriate wines? Much as the list looked excellent, we had to simply ask him to choose glasses that would match whatever we were being fed.
And then, of course, it struck us that we had no idea whatsoever what said tasting menu would actually cost.
The food, as it turned out, was very good – although not, in my opinion, worthy of the second of its stars. A lovely evening was had by all; the total cost turned out to be not unreasonable. And when we finally asked the maitre d’ why we’d not been shown the a la carte menu, he was profuse in his apologies.
As ever, I look for parallels in the world of proposals from other interesting experiences in my life. I liken this rather to a salesperson needing support on a deal. Each opportunity is unique – yet the key processes involved in developing a winning proposal are broadly the same. The skill of the good proposal centre is to make the account manager feel in safe hands (”we have a wonderful menu, which you’ll love”), whilst making them feel that the approach will be tailored to their bid (”…or there’s the a la carte”?), whilst being clear on the effort that they’ll be required to invest (”…and it’s priced at…”!). Making them feel surprised and steamrollered probably aren’t secrets of success.