Lussmanns Blog

Feed Children Well (18 May 17)

RavioliMy feeling is that eating out with children in a restaurant should be a continuation of what happens at the dinner table at home, where everyone should eat their greens. When thinking about our junior menu I think about my own children - what I’d like them to eat and what I think they would eat.

My view is that at home, children should eat the same food as their parents, just smaller portions. That’s the thinking behind our junior menu. We have three dishes on there, usually one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. At the moment we’ve got two vegetarian dishes and one fish: paella with chargrilled vegetables and halloumi, ricotta, peperonata and lemon thyme ravioli with fresh peas, and a house fishcake with baby spinach, caper and parsley butter sauce. All of these have a good helping of veg, and are a simple rendition of our main menu.

What’s good for our adult customers, and popular with them, usually works well for our younger diners. When Nick McGeown (our Group Head Chef) and I look at what should be on the junior menu we think it makes perfect sense to use these popular dishes and just serve a half portion. Things like fishcakes – everyone loves fishcakes and it’s one of our best-selling dishes. And even if you serve it with spinach, generally kids will eat it all up.

I like to think of Lussmanns as a good example of a group of high street restaurants that serves food for children that they want to eat, and their parents are happy for them to eat. So-called ‘children’s food’ tends to be awful. My intention is that children eating in our restaurants should enjoy tasty, interesting food. In fact, some of our adult customers, particularly some of the older ones, often ask if they can choose from the junior menu – and of course the answer is yes! Then, when children reach the age of eight or nine, just as my kids do, they can order from the main menu and their parents can finish off any of the leftovers.

PaellaSome children have become obsessed with pizza. There are hundreds of places you can take your children if you just want them to eat that. But why not try them with something else? Give them Wiener Schnitzel and they’ll think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I like to think that 99% of children will like our food. We do still occasionally have customers asking for pizza but we politely say that this is how we do it. And it’s very rare for us to have much waste, because the children like it and if there are any leftovers their parents tend to polish them off. It is a limited menu and we do charge for it, unlike some big chains. I don’t think it’s expensive (£8.95 for two courses) but I really don’t think that kids should eat for free. Food isn’t free, it has a value and everyone, children included, should understand that. To my mind, giving away food sends out the wrong message.

My principles around our younger customers extend beyond what’s on the plate. We describe ourselves as being family friendly, not child-oriented. As a society, I think we are losing our connection with sitting round the dinner table, talking and enjoying a meal together. If you come to eat at Lussmanns it’s like coming to eat in my house. We like everyone to sit at the table so that all of our customers, including those who are dining without children, can enjoy their meal. We want a busy restaurant, with a great atmosphere, but not chaos. I’ve been in restaurants where kids are allowed to get away with murder and it’s not remotely enjoyable for anyone. Apart from that, having children tearing around the place is a genuine health and safety issue.

Part of my responsibility as a restaurateur is to share my principles with customers to motivate them and to explain our approach. Serving ethically sourced, nutritious, tasty food that includes plenty of vegetables is a key aspect of that.

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Andrei is an ambassador for the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), and this blog was first published on 2 May 2017 by the SRA's Food Made Good campaign to highlight the importance of feeding children well ~

Ethics at the core (29 November 16)

House-cured treacle gravadlax with heritage beetroot and horseradishRunning an independent restaurant is a job and a half, and that’s just the hours. Throw in ever declining margins, toss in the brutal and unyielding competition of the high street chain and finish with the need to be ethical.

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Rewarding good service (5 May 16)

Rewarding good serviceAs a restaurateur, what stands out most in the ongoing debate about tipping is the complexity of the issue and the misinformation in its reporting.

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Food for thought (24 Sep15)

AL-Blog-SA-200The food scene in St Albans has matured greatly during the last decade. As it continues to grow, the city now boasts a good mix of independents and high street names, with several new restaurants opening this year alone.

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Greetings from St Tropez (25 May 15)

vineyard-100pxOnce again, I was fortunate enough to travel over to Provence with a view to buying some excellent rosé from arguably one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

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SRA Awards (23 Feb 15)

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Wiston Estate (18 June 14)

WistonAYou would be forgiven for thinking of English sparkling as a badly fashioned picture of fawn pleated gentlemen dithering with hessian bags hoarding volumes of poor tasting fizz.

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New beginnings - opening a restaurant (30 Sep 13)

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Great British Beer - again (10 July 13)

stpeters-blog-100Beer, an old fashioned and classless preserve of Britain in its multitude of colours is once again stirring the cockles and beer mats of many an Englishman.

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Fanfare to the common man (30 Aug 12)

Mr Raymond Blanc OBE opens Brasserie Blanc in St Albans and then retires to Lussmanns for dinner.

rblanc-smallAdmittedly there were was no fanfare of brass and wind but somehow there was occasion and stardust with the good of St Albans assembling to listen to a Frenchman bent on reminding us all of what and how we need to be eating.

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A day in Provence (7 Jun 12)

chateauI spend part of my year scurrying around the country reviewing both ingredients and suppliers alike. This has always been a most enjoyable process but until now after ten years of marmotting my trip to Provence proved to be the best yet.

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Nibbles at No. 10 (2 May 12)

A morning like most but an afternoon like no other.

andreino10smallClearly we aren’t disciples of Michelin, or ambassadors of the finest kitchens in the land (or Ferrero Rocher for that matter). So it was with one foot heavier than the other that I set forth on that well-trodden journey to London.

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raymond-andrei-small"Eating fish sustainably is the only way, today and every day, and we ignore this at our peril"

Read more: Enjoying fish with Raymond

Too Good To Waste? (27 Sep 11)

boxOn 5 October 2011, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) officially launches its new 'Too Good To Waste' campaign in London.

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