I like to see a good professional at work, particularly when it comes to service in a pub. We all know how bad it can be and indeed, usually is, but sometimes, just now and then, you come across a performance that makes you think "That's how it should be."
On Saturday, after a quick and first visit to Friends of Ham in Leeds, I went to my old haunt the Palace, where I was being picked up by my better half. The Palace used to be my usual Leeds drinking den when I worked there and you can see from its large windows, Quarry House where I slaved away. It is a Nicolson's pub now, but in my time it started off as plain old Tetley's before becoming a Festival Ale House and then something under whatever the forerunner of M&B was. It has always been a good place to drink, with its large picture windows, dark wood and various nooks and crannies. It has always too had a good selection of beers and I can (not very well) remember among many other boozy visits, delicious encounters with Ind Coope Burton Ale. It is still a fine place to drink in now.
When I called about one o'clock, it was quite busy, but I was able to stand in my favourite spot, just where there is a kink in the bar making almost a little alcove. The lone barmaid was serving at the other end of the bar and looked round. "I'll be with you in a second Sweetheart" quoth she. Brilliant stuff, and an immediate big tick from me. A moment later she was over, smiling and taking my order. I watched fascinated as she ran the bar like a true professional. Everyone was given a greeting, a word here and a smile there and advised their place in the "queue". She served two at once, flew up and down and controlled it with a skill that seemed natural to her. She was on her own for a good twenty minutes, yet no-one waited long, everyone was put at ease and thus the ship sailed along in happy harmony.
When it got a little quieter, I asked her what her name was and complimented here on her performance. It is Melissa for the record. Running the show like that isn't easy, but boy did she handle it well. It reminds me that every job is what you make it and she made it look simple, which it actually is.
A great barmaid in the old school sense and I was taught by the best, so trust me on this one.
I was also treated to a virtuoso performance in how to keep four seats to yourself in a busy pub, but that's for another day.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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