With sunnier weather we’ve been enjoying meals outdoors, usually in popular people-watching locations.
Just like many new flats now having balconies, café-bistro dining seems a reflection of global warming or a culture shift in the British social make-up. Over recent years the range of food, opening times and service have also generally improved enormously.
What does stick in my throat, however, is the outrageous mark-up on drinks. It’s bad enough being charged almost £3 for a cup of tea or a coffee (let alone the cost of a cake slice!), but on beers (mostly water) it’s an affront, while with glasses of wine it’s daylight robbery!
We suffer already from being the most taxed country in Europe and so, possibly, the world regarding alcoholic drinks. (Although I hear good, old Down-Under has now gone the same way.) However, it makes me splutter in my shiraz to find cafés and restaurants charging the same amount for my ‘standard’ glass as they’ve probably paid for their bottle. A six-fold mark-up is sobering.
One recent mid-week, early evening, for example, we dined happily at a bistro pub by Lytham’s Green promenade. The food and service were excellent, as were our surroundings, but my beer (£4 a pint) was not, in my experience, up to best cask condition and She Who Knows’ 1.75ml glass of rosé cost £5.20. When she was, nonetheless, tempted into a second glass and asked for small (1.25ml) the charge only fell to £5.
The current trend for mixed gins and cocktails costing almost a tenner is also a profit bandwagon. We all know there are service costs to consider, but I’m reminded of that annoying French ruse of charging more for sitting outdoors, or sitting at all in cafés.
I’ll just have to do what I did there – shrug at the bill then mutter, “Non-comprendez!”
* For more from Roy or his books, visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com.