The night before we opened our new home in Tring I took some time to reflect on the journey we’ve been on and the amazing support shown by Tring locals. Below is the guest blog I wrote for the fantastic Tring Buzz blog.

 

“Here I sit, the night before the dream becomes a reality. Tomorrow night we open the doors to our new restaurant in Tring and I couldn’t be more excited and proud. This thing we call Crockers nearly didn’t happen.

Two years ago the idea came to me after months of trying to find the money to open it looked like it wouldn’t happen. Well, as you can see it didn’t end there. I have managed to surround myself with some truly amazing people. From the investors that went from regular guests to shareholders to the amazing new team. I am one lucky guy!

It doesn’t stop there. Tring and the people of Tring have blown me away. The response to us converting a knackered old building into what I hope will be a destination for great food, cocktails and just relaxing with friends, has been amazing. The most mind blowing and humbling response has been from the local businesses. Andre Lussman even appeared in the kitchen the other day to say hello and welcome us to the town.

Katy and Matt from this very blog, Tring Buzz have supported us from day one in Potten End and I can’t say thank you enough to them.

Since announcing the re-location to Tring we have a huge amount of support. It all started with Ruby Tuesday interiors. Jules has been an absolute superstar and is responsible for the look and feel of the whole building. She was generous enough to offer me her time for free just to have the chance to be involved. Her attention to detail and work ethic has blown me away. I hassle her all day every day and she just keeps going. Thank you Jules.

One day Jules showed me this crazy mirror that was a TV and gave me the card for the guy that supplies them. Fast forward a few weeks and Chris from Home Technology and Cinema walks through the doors in Tring. Yet again he offers me an incredible deal just to be involved. Chris has worked incredibly hard with his business partner Greg to plan, install and setup our CCTV, network and speakers. Thank you Chris.

Next up was Suzanne from Tring Beauty Box. Yet again I get a random email offering services and product for free just to be a part of this. Just for the record I turn this down every time. Suzanne has been amazing in helping me pick two fantastic hand wash and lotion products for each toilet. That’s right, we have two fragrances to choose from for both hand wash and lotion. Find her on Instagram and you can see how much she loves our toilets! Thank you Suzanne.

We have alway had a great relationship with Tring Brewery. Scott and I both independently of each other stared working with their beers in our breads. It just makes sense to use the best. They have provided us with the beer for our bread and now the beer for our cheese from day one. Thank you Tring Brewery.

Lastly I have to thank Ben and Kate from Puddingstone Distillery. Ben was the one that told me that Hyatts was closing long before it was advertised so I have a lot to thank him for. Our businesses have supported each other a lot since day one. We opened months apart and from that day I have mainly only served Campfire exclusively. It gets better though, they are now making us own gin! Thank you Ben & Kate.

So there it is, tomorrow we open our doors on our new home in this truly amazing community. We know Tring was great but wow! Hopefully we’ll get to see you all soon.”

It has been a fantastic roller coaster ride so far and I can’t wait to see where we go over the coming years.

Don’t forget to pop in to the new bar and say hello.

Luke.

At Crockers Tring we are always trying to improve the service that we offer. Even before we open our doors on April 24th we are working on ways to improve our guests experience.

We haven’t been happy with the booking systems we’ve used in the past both in the run up to the opening in Tring and in Potten End. We want our guests to have full control over their reservations with an easy to use booking system.

We are now proud to announce that we will be using Tock for all reservations. Tock really do understand the importance of not only the guests experience but also the restaurants experience when handling bookings. You may notice some differences in the way we are now taking reservations.

  • We are no longer taking and holding your credit card details. Tock pointed out to us that holding these against you incase you either no show or cancel too late isn’t getting us off on the right foot. We are now taking a small deposit at the time you confirm your booking online. This eliminates the need for us to handle your card details ourselves improving the security of the booking. Don’t worry, you can still cancel the bookings up to 7 days in advance and get a full refund.
  • We were let down on far too many occasions by our previous booking system by them not emailing reminders to our guests. Tock will 100% be doing this but you can also expect a call from us a week from your booking. We don’t want you to lose any of your deposit so we will call to confirm your booking before it’s too late.

To celebrate our new system we have now opened our bookings all the way through to the end of September! Grab your chance to get an early booking in now before you go back to three months in advance.

Book your seats now

As we build up to our first ever, exclusive wine event I thought it might be worth showing just how good our Sommelier Duncan is. If you have missed any of the previous posts you can find out about the main characteristics of wine and which grapes are my personal favourites.

Take little old me. A chef that was always locked in the kitchen far away from the excitement of the sommelier section. We very rarely got to try wines that complimented the food that we would work so hard to create. This meant I was developing all the skills you would expect in a Michelin Star kitchen but didn’t have clue about wine.

Fast forward to the day we opened Crockers Chef’s Table in Potten End and the introduction of Duncan Gammie from the Wine Service Trainer Co to the team. Duncan would spend time with me before we launched each new menu to go through the wines in detail and really simplify why they went together. Not only this but we would intersperse these sessions with “the basics” to build my basic knowledge. Trust me this really was the basics!

We would go through the wine making process, the most common grapes and of course we would taste them. He made it such a great learning experience that I quickly picked up the basics and went from someone with very little confidence to someone that can hold a conversation about wine. Now I’m no expert, that takes far more years to achieve but the fact is I am now so confident that I can match wines to food and also order wine with confidence when I’m out for dinner.

I’m incredibly excited to be able to offer a limited number of people the chance to experience the same rapid increase in knowledge and confidence soon. I am excited to finally announce this great opportunity in tomorrow’s post so keep an eye out for the next email.

If you have any questions about the upcoming opportunities please leave them below in the comments and I will do my best to answer them ask quickly as possible.

Luke.

One of the trickiest things about wine is understanding the grapes that are used. Let me get out a little disclaimer first, I still get so lost when it comes to the grapes around the world! The beauty of working in this industry and with our fantastic Sommelier Duncan is that I get to try a lot of different wines. This enables me to experience so many different grapes and see what I really like.

I thought it might be helpful and possibly interesting if I put together my favourite grapes used on their own but also blended. This is my personal choice and I’m sure we all have our favourites. I’d love to hear from you all if you have certain grapes you like in the comments below.

Nebbiolo

The superstar grape of the Piemonte region of Italy, Nebbiolo is the grape behind Barolo. It packs complex flavours and aromas like rose, cherry, truffle, tobacco and leather making it a very enjoyable drink. Nebbiolo has high tannin and acidity enabling it to be paired with some nice big flavours including roasted meats, garlic and herbs. I love a Barolo and we will certainly be seeing them again in Tring.

Syrah

The darker cousin of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah is packed with antioxidants so it’s basically a health drink. Accented by blackberry, blueberry, pepper and herbs it’s a great match for red meat. Often found in the Rhone valley in France but also being produced by some fantastic New World vineyards. We sometimes have a Jim Barry Shiraz on the menu which is easily the best Shiraz(Syrah) I’ve tasted.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the lightest of the red grapes and probably my favourite wine at the moment. It’s nice and light yet packed full of amazing flavours like cherry, raspberry, vanilla and mushrooms. It does tend to spend a little bit of time in French oak which helps give it that wonderful vanilla edge. A relatively mild tannin and acidity level make it a very drinkable wine with or without food.

Cabernet Sauvignon 

Oh dear another one of my favourite wines, sounds like I may have a problem. Let’s just accept I love wine. Cabernet is the totally opposite end of the scale to Pinot Noir. Big and juicy, packed with dark fruit like black cherry, black currant and blackberry it really does suit a nice juicy steak. Add in the bold tannins and it just gets better.

Viognier

An often over looked wine but one that has featured on our list for a long time now, Viognier really does give amazing value for money. A nice full bodied wine with apple, citrus, pear and peach it’s one of those wines that you can easily drink with or without food. We often put it alongside a slightly more complex fish dish but it also works well with food with a little spice in it.

Riesling

Oh Reisling, what did Blue Nun do to you? Much like Chardonnay this fantastic wine has been given a bad reputation by some shocking wine making practices. Did you know they aren’t all super sweet? This grape can pack some fantastic fruit flavours including apricot, peach, apple and lime making it an obvious choice for a nice light fish dish. A common scent to get from Riesling and possibly why some people get put off is petrol. Yes you heard it right, the stuff you stick in your car. Don’t let this put you off as it really is a stunning drink.

Chardonnay

Yet another wine with a bad reputation due some dodgy techniques. Gone are the day of steeping the wine with oak chips or even adding oak essence. A good chardonnay with have great lemon, apple, pear and pineapple, followed up with vanilla, baked tarts and butter. Not all Chardonnay goes into oak either but when it does and it’s done properly it is a stunning, big, bold wine. Oh and don’t forget, that chablis and champagne you love? Yeah, that has chardonnay in it.

Sauvignon Blanc

Known at Crockers as the white wine drinkers safe choice. We absolutely love Sauvignon Blanc and it’s wide array of flavours and scents. We have a particularly good one on at the moment from New Zealand which will be following us to Tring. Packed with lime, green apple, lemon grass and elderflower it really does tick a lot of boxes. Add in a bit of vanilla and butter if it’s spent some time in oak it really is a great rounded wine.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into the wines that I love and we sell at Crockers. Don’t forget I want to hear what your favourite grapes are and why so please leave a comment below.

Thanks

Luke

Thank you so much to everyone that commented on our last post, a little favour.

The response was amazing and all your comments will really help to tailor our upcoming, exclusive experience.

We thought we’d give you a little bit of information to help when ordering and buying wines. Hopefully this little bit of knowledge may go some way to giving you all a little more confidence.

 

Sweetness.

Sweetness refers to the level of residual sugar that is left in the wine after the making process. A wine that is considered dry has had all of it’s sugars converted to alcohol during fermentation. Sweet wines will have a higher level of residual sugars left in order to create a sweeter taste.

This can get a little tricky as each persons sensitivity to sweetness is different. You may have a dry wine that has spent some time in oak that some people may be able to pick up caramel notes from. This could give the impression of a slight level of sweetness in what is actually a dry wine. A common mis-conception with sweet wine is the good old Riesling. We have had plenty of guests turn their nose up because they’re used to some really sweet ones. We however tend to use quite dry variations to complement savoury dishes.

Acidity. 

The acidity of a wine is an important part of the quality and taste of a wine. It adds a sharpness to the wine and can most commonly be identified by a tingle on the side of the tongue and a mouthwatering after taste. When we talk about a well balanced wine we refer to a wine that has acidity, sweetness and tannin in perfect harmony. If you taste a wine that makes your mouth pucker like you just licked a lemon you may want to consider a slightly high quality option.

We often use wines in the restaurant with slightly higher acid profiles, not to the level of a lemon, to complement a rich dish. If Scott creates something that has quite a lot of butter in it we use the acidity of the wine to create that mouthwatering effect. This will help cleanse the guests mouth ready to get the full taste of the next mouthful.

Tanin. 

Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol that adds bitterness, astringency and complexity to a wine. You can expect to find most tannins in red wines although if a white wine has spent time in Oak it may have picked up some tannin. Be careful not to confuse tannin with the sweetness of the wine as tannin can be known to give a dry feeling to your mouth.

We often serve a wine high in tannin with a rich, red meat main course. This is because the tannins actually work with the meat proteins helping them break down and almost tenderise the meat further. Another lovely side effect of this interaction of meat and protein is the roasted flavour that comes from it enhancing a stunning piece of meat.

Alcohol.

The alcohol level in the wine will greatly effect it’s character, body and ultimately it’s classification. The higher alcohol wines tend to be fortified or dessert wines with the lower options more table wines.

The alcohol content will also effect the feel of the wine when it’s in your mouth. A lower alcohol content will feel lighter, more towards that of water. A higher alcohol content will create more viscosity in the wine leading the wine coating your mouth and giving a longer finish. The alcohol content also helps us decide how to match to the food. We don’t want a high alcohol wine with a very light fish dish as it would totally over power the dish.

Body. 

The body of the wine gives us a little snap shot of the wine. It reflects the grape used, the growing conditions and the production methods. A really easy way to describe the body of wine would be to think in terms of milk. A light wine would be like skimmed milk, very light. A medium body would be like whole milk and a full bodied wine would be like cream. You may even get that creamy feeling from a full bodied wine like a really good chardonnay.

Again we certainly take the body into account when matching with food. You wouldn’t want something light bodied like a Pinot Noir with a buttery steak as the wine is likely to get lost in the food.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short snippet into the main characteristics of wine. Wine is such a massive subject and this isn’t even the tip of the Iceberg. I would love to hear your comments and questions so please leave them below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

Luke.

March 2, 2018

A little favour….

Thank you so much for clicking through and offering your help with this fantastic opportunity we’ll be offering in May. We really appreciate you spending your time helping us.

So what’s the favour? 

All we ask is for you to comment below telling us the two things that you find most intimidating when buying and tasting wine. It can be either in a supermarket or in a restaurant setting.

Again, thank you so much. Your input will be invaluable for what we have planned for you all.

Yes that’s right it’s just 10 weeks to go until we will be open to the public!

I thought it was about time to post a little up date on the progress at our new home in Tring. The builders have been in working hard for a number of weeks now and things are starting to take shape. The destruction has stopped and now the team are in starting to re-build.

This week has seen the frames going in for the new Chef’s Table. These custom built metal bars will allow us to float the table top and take away the need for legs. We want our guests to be able to spread out and relax.

There was a moment this weekend when there were no trades on site, the sun came out and really lit up the dining room. I can’t wait to stand in this same spot looking out over our guests having a great time, basking in the sun.

Hopefully this week we’ll start seeing the walls and ceilings being finished ready for paint and tiling. It doesn’t look like much at the moment but I feel like we’re about to turn a corner and the new Crockers Tring will be emerging soon.

If you want to see more daily updates head on over to our Instagram page. I try to update with videos and pictures on the feed and also on our story. Don’t forget, bookings are now open for when we open in April. You can currently book 120 days in advance but when we open this will reduce to 90 so take advantage of the early reservations while you can. Head over to our booking page now.

Have a great week, Luke.

The taking of card details by restaurants, including mine seems to be a bit of a contraversial issue. Some people don’t want to give their card details while some are cautious. Most are happy to comply with the reservation policy. But why do we need to ask for them?

Essentially, guests card details are our insurance against any kind of loss of revenue. As horrible or greedy as that may sound that is the reason.

You see, guys like me start a restaurant out of a passion for food, dining experiences and ultimately making our guests happy. We don’t do it to get rich which generally means we’re not making any money from the business on a personal basis. If we have someone cancel last minute or even worse, not show up at all it has a huge impact. We still have to pay for the food and the staff’s time but now we don’t have any revenue to use from that one booking.

I would go as far as to say that it’s even worse for a tiny establishment like Crockers. Take this past weekend for example. We ended the previous week fully booked for lunch and dinner on Saturday. Six days out and within our current cancelation policy we lost the lunch booking. No major issue, it just meant we had more duck breast than we needed so everyone on the three course menu got breast instead of leg. Now we get to Saturday night, 7:30 rolls past and no one has arrived. 8:00pm approaches and still no sight of any guests. I call to check the guests arrival and leave a message. 8:30pm comes and we have to assume that they’re not coming.

So here we are, Scott gets in at 8:30am to prepare just for this table. All the food is ready and most of which that is slow cooked is already cooking. We had to bin a huge amount of food because we aren’t about to freeze it and then give that to someone else. I still have to pay for all that food and pay Scott but what am I supposed to use?

This ladies and gentlemen is why restaurants take card details and this is why we are now extending our cancelation policy to seven days in Tring. We are also taking deposits on bookings of 10 people or over and I am seriously considering a pre-payment for the food.

I am a huge advocate for a change in the way the hospitality industry runs mainly centred on treatment of staff and pay. This however isn’t juts down to the employers of the staff but also down to you, the guest. Guests need to start treating staff of all restaurants better. We’re not just the staff, the caterers or some sort of sub level human. We deserve as much respect as anyone and this include showing up for your reservation.

Let me finish on a little comparison. If you book a flight for a holiday and for what ever reason you can’t make it, do you get your money back? You do if you have insurance but otherwise no you don’t. So if you let down a restaurant why shouldn’t you have to pay?

Luckily we have the most amazing guests at Crockers but recently we’ve had a few people disrespecting us and querying why we take card details. I hope this post goes some way to explain the system from the perspective of the little guys.

Luke.

 

WELL HELLO 2018!

Sorry it’s been a while but we had a little bit of down time over Christmas.

After so much stress and time with the solicitors I can’t believe we’re now two weeks into our renovation of our new site in Tring. Unfortunately most of these two weeks have been spent removing all the rubbish that was left behind but we’re now seeing some real changes.

   

Our new bar area was the first part to change. It started out as two rooms divided by a white wall with a tiny door in the middle. One day I popped in and the guys had smashed out the wall and opened the room up. The light was now pouring into the bar and it looked absolutely stunning. They have now opened up a new door way that our guest will use to access the downstairs toilets. I can’t wait to see this space when it’s finished and the daylight is pouring in through those massive windows!

      

The other major change in these two weeks was when the chaps knocked out the wall to open up the kitchen and dining room. This is where Scott will be creating all his delicious food right in front of our 15 lucky guests each service. Again this room is going to be stunning especially in the summer with the sun light coming through our large windows. If you’ve been to Potten End you can already see that Tring is going to be very special indeed.

There’s still a huge amount of work to be done in order to hit our late April opening target but we have some great builders onboard. Over the next few weeks well continue stripping bits out and start re-wiring & plumbing the building from top to bottom.

I’ll finish this post by saying a huge thank you to the people of Tring and especially the local businesses. We’ve had a huge amount of support from local businesses and can’t say thank you enough. Keep an eye for more news of these superstars who are 100% behind Crockers Tring.

Thanks for reading and check back next week for more news!

Luke

Would you like to be a part of one of the most unique dining experiences available?

 

We are looking for several new members of our team to join us at Crockers Tring.

The current positions available are : Commis Waiter, Kitchen Porter, Cocktail Bar Staff

We offer a very competitive pay scheme for the industry, great benefits and holidays.

If you have a little something special that you think you can offer as part of our team we want to hear from you. We want people that want to work hard, play hard and generally have a good time. All while giving our guests the highest level of service making them feel at home.

Experience for all positions isn’t essential, personality and ability to think on your feet is all we ask for. We will give full training to all new members of the team.

Crockers Chef’s Table is still a very young business but with very large goals. If you want a chance to be part of a rapidly growing business from the beginning now is the time. If you would like to know more about a possible career with Crockers Chef’s Table please email your CV and covering letter to careers@crockerstring.co.uk