Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. And as a critic I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended. Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wither Spoons?

So, another round of Spoons Bingo comes to an end, and scoopers all over the land, me included, will have successfully ticked off another 50 beers. (Or, at least, as many of the 50 as they needed - there were some very 'everyday' ales on the list this time around.)

There has been another thought on my mind: Was this the last Wetherfest? Or at least the last as we know it?

50/50 (not a rating!)
Things are changing in JDW land. New openings have slowed to a trickle, while they have been quite aggressively selling off pubs over the past six months, including several where I've spent many happy hours.

For the first time, the overall size of the estate is contracting rather than expanding, and at an alarming pace.

Customers are reacting negatively to this, particularly in areas that are losing their last or only Spoons. Then there has been the huge backlash over their plans to stop serving Sunday Roasts.

(The 'roasts' were truly awful, so I'm not bothered, but a lot of people seemed to enjoy spending their Sabbaths eating slimy pre-sliced meat and microwaved bags of vegetables.)

There are whispers - nothing concrete, mind, but certainly speculation and rumours - that the company is making a few adjustments ahead of a substantial change to its operations. Does this mean a sell-off? Is Tim Martin preparing to step down as Chairman? Are we going to see the estate broken up into smaller chunks, some of which won't be Spoons as we know them?

And what would any of this mean for the beer policy?

I hope Spoons continue. I hope the biannual Wetherfests carry on. And I hope they can get back to acquiring new premises and expanding once more.

But nothing lasts forever, and I'm getting a vibe that the end may be nigh.