I came across a receipt the other day from Novus, one of the better restaurants I enjoyed in Singapore way back in the autumn. It’s located in the national museum. To paraphrase the old advert for London’s V&A, which some of you may recall, the lunch in question was a rather odd case of an excellent restaurant with a decent museum attached.
Their menu was displayed outside the entrance; scanning it quickly, I focused in on one of the desserts: saffron ice cream. That in itself was sufficient reason to go in and dine – unusual, distinctive, so appealing that my taste buds were already starting to imagine the unusual flavour. (Had you shaped the evaluators’ opinions before they read your last proposal, so they expected yours to be wonderful? Did your front cover and table of contents create a compelling first impression?)
The first two courses were excellent (especially the poached quince), but I knew the highlight was to come. I scanned the dessert menu: there were some other great options, but only one drew me back, no matter how good the rest. (Did your last proposal do that for the evaluators?).
The dish duly appeared. And it disappointed. Not the saffron ice cream itself, which absolutely hit the spot – a flavour so intense yet delicate that my mouth’s watering as I write this some months later. (How memorable was your message?)
But it came served “with raspberry millefeuille, on a bed of chopped nuts”. Now, I love raspberries – but these were too succulent: they got in the way of the taste I was expecting to hear. And the only nuts I enjoy come with pints of beer or glasses of sherry: they too got in the way, jarred, left the wrong flavour in my mouth. (Did you focus on a clear message, or confuse your story with too much detail?)
Nevertheless, the ice cream itself had the wow factor. (Like your writing?) I emailed friends about it, sang its praises. (Did the evaluators do that about your proposal?)
That said, the meal was pricey by Singaporean standards. But you you can’t do saffron ice cream on the cheap, unless you want your customers to fall short of the high expectations you’ve created. And once I was sold on the concept, price became incidental. (So was your proposal so compelling that they chose you, then worried about the price?)
And I happened to be in the mood for fine dining. There are times when given the choice I’d be the one ordering a Mr Whippy with a 99 flake – from the ice cream van, in the park on a hot summer’s day, maybe. And offer eight-year-old Benedict a saffron ice cream…?! (And your story appealed to these evaluators, for this specific opportunity?).
Now, all this talk of restaurants is making me hungry…!