There are no words to describe just how challenging our new venture, French & Grace, has been for us. Which is why there have been no words on this blog of late. We haven’t been able to come and write here, even if we’d wanted to (which, we must admit, we haven’t) such is the diversion of our modest restaurant. If we had written a blog post about the opening and running of F&G, you wouldn’t have liked it. It would have read something like this:
“Urch. Morning again.”
“Can’t get up.”
“Must get up.”
“But I can’t.”
“There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Kind of Beckettian, but without the mud. If that internal monologue doesn’t do the feeling justice, I distinctly recall every single morning feeling as though I’d been clobbered round the head with a bottle of vodka in the minutes between collapsing in bed and waking to the ringing of the alarm clock. It didn’t help that we were driven to drink through the latter parts of 13 hour shifts – which ran back to back for 4 days, every week – but drink or no drink, it was hard, hard work.
And it still is. It’s required everything of our joined mental faculties to keep on top of the orders, the staff, the cooking, the cleaning, the logging of fridge temperatures (it’s glamorous.) Those who saw us at the start witnessed the un-pretty, deeply etched bags from under our eyes which have just about lifted, and I’m sure they’d be kind and comment on the running of the place feeling more smooth. We must be kind on oursleves too, and enjoy the progress along with the journey. Not only that but we’ve started to claim back wedges of the social lives we had stolen from us in October and that too feels good. Slowly, carefully, we are finding what is called ‘a balance’, and this, after all, is half the point of being self-employed.
This week, however, Britain is experiencing a cold snap and we have no customers. It’s so cold in the mornings that the oven goes on – door open – to heat the room up and loosen the solid bottle of olive oil from Brixton’s arctic grip. Stamping around with nine layers and several cups of tea, the morning prep and shopping trip gets underway. And then I wait. And in come some staff. And we wait together. We serve a handful of brave local workers who manage to take off their coats and relax over bowls of hot specials and mugs of tea. But then they go, and we remain. It’s a bit of a shock, having enjoyed the surprisingly fruitful weeks of a busy January. But then that’s business, and quite specifically, Brixton Village. Come the warmer winds, our customers will quite rightly return.
Anyway, the point of all this is that it’s been quiet of late and we’ve missed the blog. We finally have a chance to say something during this period of chilly reflection and we would like to state that it’s our aim to really get back to writing this year and to make time to upload, photograph and share some new recipes – maybe even some from the book?! For now, though, here’s a snapshot of what we’re doing this month at F&G, in a bid to lure you down for a tasty lunch with us. Come on in – the oven’s on!