To Kendells in Leeds for another pre-theatre supper; one or two people say this bistro celebrating all things French is their top spot. It’s my first and last time. It looks inviting enough peering in from outside, particularly on an icy night – a thousand candles light a large room that manages to look intimate too. The welcome’s warm – in fact service is good throughout, if a little clunky here and there. (Easily sorted, brief the staff better.) A huge blackboard tells you the score, and it all looks good. Unfortunately not all of it is available, even though it’s only 6.30 in the evening.
The charming chief waiter comes along to see if we’re ok and I ask him; ‘could you turn the music down?’ We can’t hear each other across a small table. His eyes fall to the floor. Crikey, I haven’t asked him for a date, just a couple of notches under 11 on the amp. ‘I can’t’ he says. ‘You can’ I say, ‘just go over to the knob and turn it down.’ ‘I can’t’ he repeats. ‘The chef/owner Mr Kendell sets the music at a certain level and we’re not allowed to touch it’, he says. Sheena and I look at one another in disbelief. If I hadn’t ordered, I would have walked. In fact I should’ve walked regardless. If this is the attitude, what if something’s wrong with the food? As it turns out, something is wrong with the food; my parfait is straight out of the fridge so the same temperature as the street we’ve just walked in off and Sheena’s belly pork is a huge ugly chunk of barely cooked blandness but by now we were running out of time and the will to live.
I don’t care how garlanded you are Mr K, if a customer wants the music turning down, you turn it down. We’re always right, or couldn’t you hear over the din? Back home I visit the website, to find Mr K’s mission statement; ‘Kendells Bistro is all about me me me with no apologies it’s the sum total of my life so far my thoughts on cooking the dishes that I have eating in through out France this is what I do for a living it’s one of the few things that I do well. It is what I do. Cook.’ ‘Nuff said.