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Hallie

Little Chef

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I have to say that I smile passed my lips when I read that Little Chef was going into receivership. This is not because I'm a malicious person, nor is it because I've probably had some of the worst meals of my life while sitting in their plastic chairs. Rather, it's because I see hope in the midst of all of this. Could it be that due to the influences Messrs Oliver and Ramsay this country is now starting to embrace food and starting to see the value in eating healthily and dumping processed food along the way? Or am I being far too optimistic?

The piece on the BBC website to which I've included a link (below) mentions that Little Chef were losing out at motorway stops because places like M&S were offering a better quality of food. This bodes well.

This heralds a great opportunity for those remaining Little Chefs to rethink what they offer. I think its also a sort of barometer for the UK's changing tastes. And while I'm not expecting Little Chef to become Planet Organic perhaps they'll fall more into step with what their continental counterparts are offering - Italy's Autogrill chain makes food on the spot, while a Belgian chain (whose name I've forgotten) lays on a massive buffet salad bar.

Here's the link: BBC Little Chef Piece

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I think it has rather more to do with the competition from McDs and Burger King on the one hand ('Mum, mum where can we stop for a meal?') and the expansion of what's offered in service station shops (all those 'microwave your own bacon butties'). And very little to do with the British being more food/health-conscious.

I did think of putting in an offer, but I didn't have a spare 10 mil lying around.


Edited by BertieWooster (log)

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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I think it has rather more to do with the competition from McDs and Burger King on the one hand ('Mum, mum where can we stop for a meal?') and the expansion of what's offered in service station shops (all those 'microwave your own bacon butties'). And very little to do with the British being more food/health-conscious.

I did think of putting in an offer, but I didn't have a spare 10 mil lying around.

Yes, I considered that as well - but if that were the case, McD's and Burger King have been around for so long that Little Chef would have felt the effects of their competition a long time ago.

Re: the spare 10 mill - have you checked behind the sofa?

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I think it has rather more to do with the competition from McDs and Burger King on the one hand ('Mum, mum where can we stop for a meal?') and the expansion of what's offered in service station shops (all those 'microwave your own bacon butties'). And very little to do with the British being more food/health-conscious.

I did think of putting in an offer, but I didn't have a spare 10 mil lying around.

Yes, I considered that as well - but if that were the case, McD's and Burger King have been around for so long that Little Chef would have felt the effects of their competition a long time ago.

Re: the spare 10 mill - have you checked behind the sofa?

But Little Chef has been on the decline for the past fifteen years at least. Its only been the last decade that McDs and BK have really moved out to service stations and the roadside market, which certainly co-incides with the rotund chef fading.

If I could find the sofa, I'd look behind it.


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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I have to say that I smile passed my lips when I read that Little Chef was going into receivership. This is not because I'm a malicious person, nor is it because I've probably had some of the worst meals of my life while sitting in their plastic chairs. Rather,  it's because I see hope in the midst of all of this.

Here's the link: BBC Little Chef Piece

I'm sorry, but I find this to be one of the most patronising posts I have read in the history of EG. If you recall some of the worst meal"s" of your life in a LC, why on earth did you return??

Little Chef has been and will hopefully continue to be a valuable service to travellers and families for years to come. I don't eat in them, but know people that do, and you've basically just insulted them. What about people that just want a cup of tea? Or a Pee?

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That has to be one of the most exaggerated posts I have ever read in the history of EG. If that's the most patronising thing you have read here you haven't been looking hard enough :laugh:

FWIW I don't think Hallie insulted people that ate in them, Hallie admitted to eating there as well!


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I don't think there's anything patronizing about this at all. Or perhaps, if there is -- long live it. If you can't express an unfavorable opinion of an establishment, merely because it might insult those who like it -- well, then there's really no point in having a forum in which to debate these things at all, is there?

Last few times I came through England, I arranged to go out for curries with some old college friends, but when I asked what our destination was the last time, I was told "The Stepping Stone..." Sounded like a damn strange name for a curry house, said I... It wasn't, said they; English, it was. So I naturally said a number of unpleasant things about English cooking (my experience of it was limited to a student hall in Manchester) as well as the lack of pleasant Indian food in the US. But we went there anyway, and it was excellent.

It is pretty damn uplifting, that an entire nation would stand up and take pride in its cousine.

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This thread holds a certain sadness for me. Some thirty-five years ago my wife and I used to eat occasionally at the shiny new Little Chef just outside Grimsby. The food was simple but fresh and decent, unlike the glop that was standard at the transport caffs which were the only alternative. But gradually the Little Chef's apron got dirty and we stopped eating there after ten years or so.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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This thread holds a certain sadness for me.

It holds a sadness for me, too. Even though I've never eaten at a Little Chef, nor even seen one in real life.

Richard Jury's Sargeant Wiggins has a habit of being quite taken by the Beans on Toast at Little Chef, and always tries to get Jury to stop there when they travel.

Poor Wiggins. :sad:

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As a child I would be taken as a treat to little chef on the way back from visiting Blackpool Lights- I would always order the Jubilee Pancake!!


Edited by erica graham (log)

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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Well, to lay this one to rest - my intention was not to be patronising about the people who eat at Little Chef - as Matthew pointed out, I've eaten there too - though admittedly not by choice. Was Jamie Oliver being patronising for suggesting that we shouldn't be feeding our children turkey twizlers? No. Neither were my comments intended to be patronising because I was criticising Little Chef for serving up processed slop to a nation of people who might want some healthier, better prepared options on their journeys up the M1. The management of road side restaurants/cafe chains in every other Western European country seems to understand this, so why shouldn't those in the UK respond to it as well? Why is it alright to be critical of McD's and Burger King and not Little Chef? Only in Britain have I found that the discussion of food and eating habits can be turned into a class issue.

I can understand that many people may have fond memories of Little Chef and there's a nostalgia connected to it, but in an era when even McD's is trying to reshape it's bloated menu to include leaner options, Little Chef needs to modernise in order to regain its share of the market. There's nothing wrong with suggesting that.

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I have to say that I smile passed my lips when I read that Little Chef was going into receivership. This is not because I'm a malicious person, nor is it because I've probably had some of the worst meals of my life while sitting in their plastic chairs. Rather,  it's because I see hope in the midst of all of this.

Here's the link: BBC Little Chef Piece

I'm sorry, but I find this to be one of the most patronising posts I have read in the history of EG. If you recall some of the worst meal"s" of your life in a LC, why on earth did you return??

Little Chef has been and will hopefully continue to be a valuable service to travellers and families for years to come. I don't eat in them, but know people that do, and you've basically just insulted them. What about people that just want a cup of tea? Or a Pee?

May I just take this opportunity to apologise to all eGullet members, their families and friends for the derogatory comments I made about Brussel Sprouts over the festive period. I now realise that my critiscism of this brassica has 'basically insulted' other people to which I am truly sorry :sad:

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I don’t feel insulted or patronised by the OP and although I don’t agree with the conclusions I find the thoughts stimulating. I’ve had far too many occasions eating at the Little Chefs –my parents love booking cheap rooms at Travel Lodge when we’re visiting. The quality of Little Chef food is grim. When the omelettes arrive in a van you know that fine dining is not the top priority.

I’m not sure the failure of Little Chef is that its food isn’t healthy, simply that it’s bad.

In greedier moments, a greasy spoon cafe (“caff”) can be perfectly wonderful. Just what the Doctor wouldn’t order – but honest, cheap, filling and tasty. It’s do-able. If they can run one by South Croydon bus garage they can run one on the side of the motorway.

That said, M&S Simply Food stores in the service stations are decidedly a step in the right direction. I don’t think there will ever be a South Mimms Services Farmer’s Market, but we can live in hope.

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A little bit off topic but I bet most of the service station and railway franchise operators really hate the M&S Simply food outlets - vaguely edible food with no price premiums (Not as far as I have noticed - appears to be the same prices as high street shops).


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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A little bit off topic but I bet most of the service station and railway franchise operators really hate the M&S Simply food outlets - vaguely edible food with no price premiums (Not as far as I have noticed - appears to be the same prices as high street shops).

Though it seems to have forced other places to buck their ideas up. Leeds and Manc station newsagents (Menzies I think) both stock foogoo sarnies now, which include a lovely salmon and egg thing. Well, I think its lovely, but, as has been pointed out before, I have no taste.


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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I don’t think there will ever be a South Mimms Services Farmer’s Market, but we can live in hope.

Never been to the Westmoreland Tebay services on the M6 near Penrith then? An excellent farm shop right in the middle of the service station, it can be done!

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I don’t think there will ever be a South Mimms Services Farmer’s Market, but we can live in hope.

Never been to the Westmoreland Tebay services on the M6 near Penrith then? An excellent farm shop right in the middle of the service station, it can be done!

I can think of three or four redundant garages around here that have been converted into farmer's shops/market places. Ideal layout...


It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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Shows how things go full circle. In times past, wouldn't have ever dreamed of eating in motorway services unless totally desperate. But now we even go there to buy food occasionally - out of choice, not necessity. And we do this - true confession - when we're not even on a journey! Yes, the M & S outlet at the Exeter M5 Services sometimes quite ably fills the role of ye olde corner shoppe: it's open at hours when others are shut, and sells a limited but basic selection of real food to cook, not just scoff on the premises - steaks, fish, salad and veg, fruit plus some good puds. It's quicker and more salubrious than popping into the detested Tescos superstore. Prices aren't that ridiculous, either. Weird, eh?

As for Little Chef, I certainly won't miss its passing. LC has been to the UK what Howard Johnsons is to the US - plastic foods served rarely with a smile. Me, I always preferred the now defunct but aptly Grumpy Eater roadside chain. At least you knew what you were getting there.

As for greasy spoon transport caffs, I'm a great fan. Nothing beats our nearby "Grill on the Hill".

Cheers

MP

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Never been to the Westmoreland Tebay services on the M6 near Penrith then? An excellent farm shop right in the middle of the service station, it can be done!

That, sir, is a very useful thing to know. Cheers! :biggrin:

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It's on both carriageways, and has great meat, some good veg, and great ready made pies etc plus a well stocked deli.

They also sell products from the local Penrith Smokery, excellent sausages!

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Not only does Tebay Services have a decent (but pricey) farm shop, but the people who work there can also tell you the provenance of all of the produce they use is their excellent (and cheapish) cafes.

And I understand that it is doing very well.

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So there's a network of restaurant sites with parking, distributed all over our national road system.

There's a brand with ironic charm.

We have a national dish in the form of the fried breakfast that even celebrity chefs love.

All across America, roadside diners managed to crank out great food designed around the simple griddle and deep fryer combination.

When people pull off the motorway, they have always been a captive audience, prepared to pay over the odds for simple, recogniseable food.

Someone should snap up the chain, buy decent quality ingredients and start turning out.... oooh, I don't know, fry-ups, burgers, bangers and chips for the kids, entirely without irony.

And outside we could erect a gibbet on which would swing the rook pecked corpse of any droning, Volvo driving knobscrape who whined about how 'the service stations in France are just wonderful.


Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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And outside we could erect a gibbet on which would swing the rook pecked corpse of any droning, Volvo driving knobscrape who whined about how 'the service stations in France are just wonderful.

I drive a Polo.

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You're not at all wrong about Autogrills in Italy, i've had damn good on the move sarnies from there when I went with school last year. Something like that would be perfect.

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Never been to the Westmoreland Tebay services on the M6 near Penrith then? An excellent farm shop right in the middle of the service station, it can be done!

And that too is most definately truthful, without doubt the best service station in the land. I prefer the northbound, and the food is actually rather excellent. A motorway service with a farm shop can be nothing but good, especially when they have venison pies.

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