The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Peter de Wit's, Greenwich

Peter de Wit's
21 Greenwich Church Street
Greenwich
SE10
08713 327 097

by Des Ayuno

With its classy dark green and white facade, Peter de Wit's held promise for two hungry travellers fresh off a Thames cruise. The discovery of a shaded terrace out back was in keeping with the relaxed, idyllic nature of the day.

Orders were noted with friendly courtesy: scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and tea for me, and an off-menu request for "the closest thing you've got to a veggie breakfast" and fresh orange juice for the Scot. When the waiter faux-grimaced over the sports pages (covering England's quarter-final exit in agonising detail), it seemed an endearing extension of the place's chummy welcome.

That, however, was the end of a beautiful morning. The fresh orange juice was as accurately named as Sybil Fawlty's fruit salad. The veggie breakfast contained all the standards, inoffensively prepared - eggs (scrambled), toast (margarined), tomatoes (roasted), mushrooms (tinned), beans (holding it all together) - as well as an unidentifiable lump. I alone braved a forkful and discovered it was stuffing. It was a daring inclusion, but sadly inedible, as proved the rest of the Scot's breakfast when a hair surfaced in the eggs.

Long, dark and glossy, it could never have fallen from the waiter's sparsely thatched crown, although he appeared to be the sole member of staff present. In any case, my eggs were hair-free, and the smoked salmon was stacked on top rather than scrambled with - both small mercies. But the toast was cold and the enormous, unadvertised green salad ignored.

It should be mentioned that the offending meal was removed from the bill, but a lethargic melancholy stopped us pointing out the fundamentally offensive nature of the entire experience and, as we left, the waiter's nervous, apologetic giggles followed us for too long down the high street.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Peter de Wit said...

The writer of this review is a total and complete prat ( to be polite) as well as clearly being arrogant, and full of him/her/self.
Like most people ( including myself) the writer of this review always goes for the easy option rather than the aproach that takes more thought and sensitivity and awareness of the true realities of life in the real world. - i.e. what he/she wrote made for what they thought was slick trendy journalism before passing onto the next job/fee. The result, as is normally the case in this field of journalism was trite, shallow, false, empty, selfserving tosh.
People who know Peter de Wit's Café know that, whilst it has as many faults as other institutions/bars/cafes/people, is, on balance a really great place. I am lost for words at the shallow stupidity of the writer. - unfortunately, his/her writing tells the truth - not about Peter de Wit's, but about the writer.

Having said all that we dont give a fig for what journalist write about our Café. We rely on the real opinions of our customers - people who find us by accident, and remember their experience with pleasure, and a smile in their heart. Not the bitterness in the writers - which unfortunately reflects the world as it is increasingly becoming.
I would say to the writer of that review,
Get a life - there is still time. Be open.
Above all, please dont come back, your negative vibes will affect us and our customers.

Peter de Wit
Saxophone player/toymaker/Café owner.

3:13 PM, December 10, 2006  
Anonymous AS said...

Poor Mr.de Wit. He took the easy way out – rather than answering the reported experience of Des Ayuno, a customer of his cafe, he simply attacks Ayuno in a shallow, petty, childish, trite, shallow, false, empty, (literally) self-serving manner. Hair in the eggs? Blame the customer! Cold food? Blame the customer! Inedible mush and Tesco concentrated orange juice? Blame the customer! I'd be interested in finding out what he does when someone actually complains in the restaurant - does he throw things? Lie on the floor and bang his fists and kick? Call the police? What if Des Ayuno had pointed out the hair to him in person - would he have put fingers in his ears, stomped his feet and screamed?

Having said all that, I don’t give a fig for what a restaurant owner might write about his restaurant. You’d hardly expect a father to admit his baby is annoying, grammatically ignorant, ill-mannered, a bad cook and a piss-poor saxophone player. Of course, I’m sure people do find his café by accident and “remember their experience with pleasure, and a smile in their heart.” It’s just too bad that the only things we have to rely on are an actual customer’s experience, and the poorly-written personal attacks of the restaurant’s owner. Who to trust…who to trust…

10:48 PM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

It's me again - Peter de Wit.
I notice that "AS" could not find the courage to identify him/herself when making negative opinions. It is not at all clear whether "AS" has actually been a customer at Peter de Wit's, or is just making an uninformed response to my own comments.
Of course there are many things wrong with Peter de Wit's Cafe - we dont claim otherwise. But I would ask "AS" to look around and tell me any institution, be it a cafe or a car factory ( or a local government office) that is remotely near perfection - It's a very uneven world out there - but we do our best. And I admit that, as a saxophone player and a toymaker and a daydreamer I am not best placed to run a Cafe, or any business.
Fortunately we dont find too many like "AS" or the anonymous journalist.
We are constantly amazed and delighted at how many people from all over the world let us know what pleasure we have given them.
Peter de Wit and Jane de Wit

12:36 AM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Patrick said...

Or you could do the best thing and cross over the road to the Organic cafe. I eat there regularly and the food is always top notch.

12:55 PM, July 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krishna,

I've eaten at Peter De wits. My wife and I found it great, good, honest simple food. The music from Peter was great. The service was good, all staff were friendly. The initial writer on this tag does seem really stuck up and writting in such a flowery way only to impressive himself and others who wish to be. Peter De Wits, as I reiterate is a great place.

Krishna

5:04 PM, August 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krishna,

Also forgot to say, it is so good that is why everytime I walk past it, it'salways packed...

Krishna

5:09 PM, August 23, 2007  
Anonymous mang said...

"Krishna,

Also forgot to say, it is so good that is why everytime I walk past it, it's always packed...

Krishna"


That TexMexSpanish on the corner, the TaiWonMein, NoodleTime, McDonalds even - the restaurants in the little Greenwich town centre are all packed often... and I can confidently say that having eaten in them, the number of people packed in has little to do with the quality of the experience (food, service, price, atmosphere), and more to do with the fact that there are far more diners than restaurants.

12:00 PM, October 11, 2007  
Blogger Julia said...

Comes back to that old quote about the pen being mightier than the sword and a good demonstration of just how easy it is to cut yourself on a few sharp,ill-chosen words.

Good review of a bad morning's breakfast degenerating swiftly into a verbal food fight with all comers welcome.....so from a quiet spot under a table, as the bread rolls fly, a few words of review for anyone who's still interested....

I would guess that Des Ayuno found his/her way to the de Wits on a morning where they were understaffed and/or with a new/short term cover chef in post.....the general appeal of the place is the one picked up on in the opening paragraphs of the review - endearing quirkiness and friendly atmosphere combined with a courteous adhoc extension of the menu to cater to all requests...

this is where they've catered themselves into a corner by cooking off-piste and ending up with a piste-off client instead....to Des Ayuno, I would say that I'm sorry you didn't experience them at their best or get a frank apology rather than rank abuse, or an invitation to try them again on another morning.

Jane de Wit's Pru Leith trained and good on detail: the freshest bread, from the early morning market, with butter, not margarine, melting nicely on warm, crisp toast... finely chopped mushrooms, not tinned, and eggs scrambled with lashings of butter, all served together with freshly squeezed oranges from one of the tiniest kitchens in London that you are likely to find, is more the standard fare for breakfast than the one you experienced.

So my money's on the mystery reserve chef bungling it badly covering a morning shift and however accurate the snapshot of that particular breakfast, it's not the best and most fair lasting observation of the place, because it's limited to one experience.

As for Peter De Wit's reply to Des Ayuno, his diary entries for many months will probably read 'Note to Self; must drink morning dose of Epsom Salts before e-mailing rabid replies to resteraunt reviwers et al'...having committed a caterer's form of ritual harikiri publicly in electronic print, there isn't much space to turn that around.

However, again, it's not a reflection of the cafe at its best under Jane De Wit's management: their customer service is good and it's probably worth saying that they do serve an incredibly wide clientele throughout the day with good humour and good grace.

So, for those brave enough to venture in, be prepared for good food and good conversation, but, to pick up on the Sybil Fawlty reference, just don't mention the hair......

3:59 PM, October 21, 2007  
Anonymous freya cazorla said...

i have been to peter de wits cafe a couple of times. as far as i am aware, the service, every time ive been there, is good. the food (although i have not eatan there many times) has always been to a good standard, and the cafe haas a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. i think that the reviewer was probably visiting on a morning when they were having a bad day - perhaps one of the chefs was ill. overall, i remeber the cafe in a good light and would certainly go there to eat again - people should not be put of by the review as the place itself is much better than it is described.

6:16 PM, November 25, 2007  
Anonymous Ian C said...

I've been to Peter de Wit's cafe a few times and I've always been impressed. I therefore suspect, like the previous commenters, that the reviewer probably hit them on an off day as I've always had delicious food and very friendly service.

I do think that the reviewer was a little unfair and (although Peter overreacted a little) I can see that the tone was rather "London smug" which would irritate me too, if I was on the receiving end.

It seems to me that the writer is as protective of their own creation as Peter clearly is of his cafe; neither of you reacted well to criticism and neither of you came out of the encounter with dignity intact.

But I would add, in Peter's defence, that good cafes are harder to create and run than weblogs. They probably endure rather longer too, and certainly matter more to more people in their lives than words on a screen.

So keep it up Peter, I love your caff, and I'll keep recommending it whenever I have the chance.

8:39 PM, November 02, 2008  
Blogger john said...

Well I for one shall never be eating in Mr De Wits over priced tourist trap after reading what he wrote on here. Rude, ignorant and very very stupid. He deserves to be boycotted. And sent on a very basic course on customer service.

I certainly know who I think is the "prat" in all this lol

John Rhodes

7:21 AM, June 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked up Peter de Wit's to see when they next have music and find this. What a waste of time....... and who cares what breakfast was like three years ago.
They do excellent jazz and food evenings - will accommodate anyone with allergies etc very easily, friendly and chatty service, excellent musicians - we've never been disappointed yet in the last three or four years since we found them. Jane and Peter are delightful. Peter maybe got out of bed the wrong side before sitting at his PC - don't we all sometimes. The )(&* who wrote the snooty, up your posterior piece wouldn't recognise charm or talented musicianship if it bit his posterior.
Sarah, Hither Green

12:16 AM, August 01, 2009  
Blogger theyeti said...

Jesus.

Three years on eh?

I'll out myself: I was the one who found the hair in my eggs. I wasn't there as a writer. I came for the breakfast and I found a hair in it. The toast was cold and I don't know what the fuck was in the stuffing. It wasn't a great breakfast and the review reflected that. I'm sure Peter de Wit's place does really good breakfasts, but we didn't get one.

Too many people got personal on this review.

So I might as well:

Sarah of Hither Green; what the fuck do you know about the reviewer?

I'll tell you: You know fuck-all about the reviewer.

"Jane and Peter are delightful"?

I don't fucking care!

There was a fucking hair in my eggs!

Fucking idiots, the lot of you.

6:48 PM, November 18, 2009  
Blogger theyeti said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:50 PM, November 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wash your mouth out, you ignorant Yeti person - you do have a temper.
Sad when someone has to use the word 'fucking' because he/she can't think of a better adjective.
Pretty stupid website if no-one takes off offensive comments - why am I here then? because I found it by accident when looking for Peter de Wit.
ps Stay at home for your breakfast next time.

1:05 AM, May 06, 2010  
Blogger The said...

Another idiot.

There's nothing 'sad' about expletives, assuming the one deploying them has an array of other adjectives at his or her disposal, should the occasion arise.

However, you crack on with your belief that you miraculously know what someone is thinking, and I'll crack on with enjoying the freedom to speak as I find on a website which has helped me many times, whilst deliberating on where to breakfast.

9:37 AM, June 30, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do crack on... you pompous idiot.

3:09 PM, August 19, 2010  
Blogger Robert said...

No sign of Peter or Jane. Just two ignorant lads that paid us no attention... We walked out, dissapointed!

12:50 PM, November 12, 2011  
Anonymous Sush said...

Love Peter De Wits - food, atmosphere - just the way it is! And that's it!

Sush Dutt

6:51 PM, July 18, 2013  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares