Saturday, 27 May 2017

Deposit Secures Your Table

I’ve known Alex Claridge almost as long as I’ve been blogging, so since 2012 I’ve been following his work and projects around Birmingham and I’ve watched him move from one challenge to another.

The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

A lovely guy whose passion for food, service and creativity are second to none and you won’t see lame penne pasta in tomato sauce or mushroom risotto on his menu anywhere. 

His ethos is to push boundaries and to bring tastes together that you’d never think of combining.  To give you a work of art that is visibly clear has taken hours to make, that has been nurtured to give you a real food experience and something far, far away from an average Tuesday-night-TV-dinner.

Going the extra mile, he goes foraging for seasonal herbs and sources ingredients from remote places (sea buckthorn anyone?).  For instance, tomatoes are marinated for 24 hours, strained for 24 hours and the juice of which is then used to make a meringue.  This is the effort he goes to, the man has the patience of a saint to bring it all together.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

This is why you pay good money to eat at his venue The Wilderness.  Everything is thought through, every minor allergy, dislike, food intolerance request is factored in (if notice is given) to make the diner a bespoke version of the planned menu.   Vegetarians are given a culinary rollercoaster of taste and texture, something you don’t get in an average establishment.

Bearing all of the above in mind, so why is it that have people been grumbling about his new policy of providing a deposit upon booking?

The Wilderness Interior
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

I’m angry for him that he’s had issues with this.  He’s not in the league of the large High Street chain outlets where you can arrive as you please and a lot of the food is all pre-done for future consumption so waste isn’t a primary issue.  Instead, he’s a small, independent business where 2 or more no-shows per night makes a real impact not only on a financial level, but all the hard work in putting the menus together are wasted and it also denies someone a table that wanted to get in but couldn’t.  And he does have waiting lists.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way, fellow blogger Laura from Full to the Brum even appeared on local TV news discussing this supporting Alex’s stance.  She makes a good point, if you have to pay deposits at restaurants on occasions such as Mother’s Day or Christmas, then what’s the problem in doing so all the time?

So if you’re one of those who feels put out by paying a deposit, all I’d say is, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face and respect his deposit policy to secure your booking as I truly mean this, you won’t want to miss out on his menu creations.  We often say, our visit to The Wilderness (and also when we visited his venture Nomad) was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.  And the best things are worth paying for.



This is an extract from The Wilderness’s Vegetarian Menu from last summer.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
Chapter One
The Shoreline – Evening to Dusk
A Coastal Breeze (Pea, Cucumber, Hazelnut, Potato)
Under Embers (Roast Cauliflower, Salted Grapes, Oyster Leaf)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Two
The Forest & The Fields
Celeriac, Leftovers & Weeds (Celeriac, Egg Yolk, Herb Oil, Cheese Biegnet)
The Forest & The Field (Pearl Barley, egg yolk, Forest Herbs inc: white flowers, stone fruit)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Chapter Three
The Picnic 2009
The Flowers Got To the Tart First (Cheddar Tart, Many Flowers from the Allotment)
Jammy Dodgers
Oh B*llocks (99 Flake, Strawberry, Meadowsweet)

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

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