The Silent Customer

2 Feb

25th January is the day for celebrating the birthday of iconic Scottish bard Robbie Burns – and mine!  My treat was lunch at The Green Olive in Henley-on-Thames. Paul and I have been before and always enjoyed the food.

The menu style is mezedes. So, like Spanish tapas, you can eat as much or as little as you like, which is great for lunch. On this occasion we had the set menu, some simple starters, taramasalata and pitta bread, followed by dolmades, spanakopitta and chicken souvlaki. That’s just a small selection from a great choice of dishes included in the set menu. We added courgette fritters to this menu – I can’t resist them!

Back home again, I decided to complete a review of the restaurant under the Silent Customer scheme. It’s a bit like being a mystery shopper, and The Green Olive is one of a number of restaurants participating – they are mostly in the Thames Valley or London.

You don’t have to sign up to anything long term, I just did this as a one-off. In return for your review, you will get some kind of discount on the cost of a future meal. So I now have a voucher offering me 20% off the cost of a meal at The Green Olive to be used within the next 12 weeks. Not bad pay for a five minute job!

You can find this scheme at www.thesilentcustomer.com. The review process is simple, just a series of multiple choice questions, and some boxes for brief comments if you want to add them.

I am pleased that I was able to report that the service was excellent and attentive but not over the top. I do cringe slightly when in a restaurant the waiter comes over every five minutes asking ‘is everything okay with you guys?’ (or words to that effect).

(I hate being addressed as a ‘guy’ anyway, but never mind that now!)

No such problem at The Green Olive. It was a shame that the restaurant was not busier, a surprise to me, as it was Friday lunch-time.

The food was excellent. I particularly enjoyed the spanakopitta (spinach and feta parcels). I love spinach and the Greeks do it so well. My only criticism would be of the salad accompanying most of the dishes, but I rarely find that salad is of a high standard in restaurants and pubs.

A good salad is not difficult to achieve. Tasteless tomatoes, raw onion and ice-berg lettuce do not thrill me. I end up behaving like a fussy child and leaving most of it! Why can’t they put out some rocket, watercress, pea shoots, chard or baby spinach; flavourful, red tomatoes; and maybe some shaved parmesan and pine nuts. Ooh, and some diced avocado, please!

We also had a pudding, and decided to go for the small portion with a cup of coffee. This is a trend which seems to be popular in some of the Italian chains and works well. We both had pancakes with Greek yogurt and a cup of Americano. The coffee was excellent – do you find so many restaurants serve such weak coffee these days? But not in The Green Olive.

I didn’t spend any time on the wine list. At lunch time we were sticking to the sparkling water. My one criticism of the Silent Customer review survey format (which I managed to put in as a comment) was that I couldn’t put ‘not applicable’ for the quality of the wine list. I had to say that it was ‘okay.’

All in all, this was a good experience, and I’d be interested in taking part in more restaurant reviewing as a ‘silent customer.’

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