1) Service: We are not a normal restaurant. Please don’t expect to have the same standard of service, although we do our best to try. If you need water and everybody is busy, feel free to get your own. If you drop your napkin, please pick it up yourself. Keep your cutlery between courses, French style. The less washing up, the better.
2) Drink: Bring your own booze. We don’t have an alcohol license. This is great for you as a guest: take the opportunity to pay what you’d normally spend in a conventional restaurant on the cheapest bottle of wine on the list (£10 to £15) on a very good bottle of wine with no mark up. Soft drinks: We don’t have a large fridge with a selection of soft drinks, so if you have a soft drink you particularly like, do bring it along. We offer tap water rather than mineral water, so again, bring your own if you prefer that.
Do bring your own drink. We’ve had occasions where people didn’t bring their own and helped themselves or expected others to share their wine with them. More often this is fine, but can sometimes lead to irritation and people hiding their bottles under the table. At the same time, do be generous, do share with your table. If it’s white wine or champagne, bring it ready chilled if you can. We do have a large ice bucket (unless the local shop has sold out of ice), but don’t always have room in our fridge.
3) Timing: Please turn up on time. We don’t have an army of chefs ready to whip you up a hot dinner if you arrive late. If you are running late, please call to let us know. We will often delay the meal while waiting for you, and the other guests will be waiting too.
Conversely: Please, please do not arrive early. It puts us in a difficult position. We open our doors at 8pm and those last few minutes before showtime may be our only opportunity to put on mascara, spray deodorant under their shirt to hide cooking smells and reapply lipstick.
4) Cancellations: Please do not cancel, and if you must, do it at least 48 hours beforehand. We will already have bought the ingredients for your dinner. Unlike a conventional restaurant we cannot sell the food the next day. Profit margins are low so please do be thoughtful. Do turn up. Even if you have paid in advance, this is an instance where you abide by dinner party manners rather than restaurant rules.
Deposit: We ask for a £10 deposit per person to secure your booking. Should you need to cancel please do so before the 48 hour deadline as explained above. Late cancelations will be charged at full price unless we are able to ‘sell’ your seat at the last minute.
5) Seating: Be prepared to sit with strangers. This is one of the best things about Mary Jane’s Soul Kitchen, you get to meet other people. If you have booked with us for a special celebration such as a birthday, where you want to sit next to your friends, then let us know in advance and repeat again when you enter. Put bags on chairs to reserve your places even. But be flexible, our supper club is held in our kitchen with limited chairs and space.
6) Diet: We happily cater for all special dietary requirements as this is very important to the smooth and happy running of the evening. We will ask when you book, as the menu will be planned accordingly, and cannot be changed at the last minute.
7) Tipping: You tip even an average restaurant ten percent don’t you? Why not a supper club? It makes all the hard work worth it. Alternatively a small gift is welcome.
8) Conversation: Mary Jane’s Soul Kitchen is fantastic for networking, getting jobs, contacts and even romance but sadly there is always the risk that you end up sat next to a bore, which will ruin your supper club experience. Occasionally, particularly on ‘singles nights’ we do ask that the gentlemen move to their left two places at the end of each course, so everyone gets a chance to meet properly.
9) Dress: We always ask guests to dress up. There are too few occasions in modern nightlife where we get the opportunity to get out the best suit, wear that sparkly dress and heels. However, the main thing is that you feel good and comfortable.
15) Complaints: You are that weird hybrid of ‘paying guest’. If you have a serious complaint, please mention it to us during the evening or drop us an email the next day. We will do everything we can to rectify it. If you fancy yourself as a blogger or reviewer, please discuss any problems with us before you put your comments out there the next day. We do have a ‘visitors book’ which we pass round at the end of the meal. Your honest comments are very welcome. We can learn and grow from constructive feedback, but please remember, we are not a restaurant, so we don’t always have matching cutlery, the correct knife for fish, or different shaped wine glasses to suit all wines. We do, however, work extremely hard to make sure you have fun, enjoy good food and are made as comfortable as possible.