Archives for the month of: February, 2013

A few years ago, I had an unfortunate incident with a bag of Pret popcorn. I wrote to the CEO about it. He replied. See below for more:


My letter –

Dear Mr. Schlee.

Meet Stephanie.

Stephanie likes Alan Partridge, The Secret Cinema, Clingfilm (don’t ask), incessant shoe shopping, and painting her skirting boards.

Stephanie also likes your Skinny Sweet n’ Salt Popcorn.

Sorry…………….did like. (See sad face for infallible proof).


In all honesty, I did too. So did Andy. As did Mark.

Mr Schlee, please allow me to tell you why Microsoft’s Ctrl + i command has just been put to good use:

A rather debaucherous night of drinking had preceded the fateful day in question. Needless to say, the agency’s collective liver was feeling sorry for itself, and decided to enact its revenge in the form of 4 exceptionally colourful hangovers. We survived the morning (albeit sporting every shade of green on the spectrum), but……oh Mr Schlee……lunchtime was miserable. And we usually LOVE lunchtime, Mr Schlee. Imagine our despair.

At approximately 1530 hours, we emerged from a painful post-prandial slump, and when boborygmia resumed, Stephanie here had a lightbulb moment. ‘Popcorn’ she playfully whispered. The heads of those with auditory prowess shot up. My eyes darted from Mark to Andy to Stephanie. 4 nods later and it was decided.

The rescue party, consisting of myself and the snack-instigator, staggered out into the street, shielding our eyes from the sun and snarling at Barclay Bikes blocking our path. The walk was long and arduous, Mr Schlee. See below for details. 


By some sweet miracle, as we bee-lined for the jaunty wooden crates nestling below the fridges, we were greeted by 4 remaining bags of rustling joy. No more, no less. Fate, no doubt?

Bounty in tow and a lengthened stride, we managed to arrive back at our office avoiding severe incidence. So far so good, Mr Schlee. Oh, how naïve we were.

Nothing could have restrained our hungry hands as we ripped the bags apart. Unadulterated carnage. The first few shovels were, as we have always experienced, pleasure in the purest form.

But wait.

Something was wrong.

At first, no-one said it. No-one wanted to be the pall-bearer. To affirm what we all knew was true. But it was etched in each and every one of our faces.

I spoke first.

‘Is it me….’, I tentatively ventured, ‘……or is this…quite……….salty….?’.

That was the trigger. A cacophony of expletives and outrage erupted! Spluttering and coughing, grimacing and gurning ensued!

It appears we were all in agreement.

If only we’d had tequila and lime, Mr Schlee, for we certainly had the salt. If only we weren’t already excruciatingly dehydrated. If we were slugs, we would have been flopping around inside out after 5 mouthfuls. Sweet n’ Salt Popcorn, you say? No. Quite simply, No. Your healthy little snackette elicited a false economy: the only conceivable treatment was an emergency chocolate binge to regain the sweet/salt balance. It appears the salt-man was a little too vigorous with his salt-shaker. Maybe he was overtired? Or poorly trained? May I suggest you invest a little more time in the NaCl people, Mr Schlee, for they are capable of turning lovers to haters.

It is with heartache and sorrow that I felt the need to regale you with our story. Memories of a once treasured snack have now been tainted by achieving 500% salt GDA in 30 seconds. Regrettably, not only have we lost all palate sensitivity, but also the urge to purchase this product again.

Hopefully in time the aftertaste will fade and we will be drawn back to you, but this may require some convincing.

Yours most minerally,

Jo + Co


And my reply from Mr. Schlee:




steak soho flat iron

I had assumed, as only carnivores do, that everybody bar ‘them that don’t eat meat’ must love steak. Saliva-gland-stimulating, juicy, tender steak. Then I remembered my friend Laura, who tried her first ever steak in New York’s famous Balthazar restaurant no more than eight hours after we had staggered out of a sweaty nightclub on 17th Street with veins full of tequila and bags empty of phones/wallets/hotel keys. Which, in hindsight, may not have been the best time to bite down on your first slightly pink chunk of cow. Needless to say, she wasn’t impressed.

Fast forward 18 months and Flat Iron lands with a stylish wallop in London’s SoHo, ringing the bell for round two. The steak house is a down-to-earth, stripped back, British version of a traditional Entrecôte, and like many recent additions to the Soho scene has nailed the formula to create an eatery that people are literally queuing out the door for.

Aided by the same group who struggled to overcome a nauseating urge to curl up in a ball on Balthazar’s parquet floor, Laura was coerced into agreeing to attend.
We soon found ourselves surrounding a very friendly lady with a clipboard in Flat Iron’s snug entrance just off Beak Street. Unassuming but stylishly moody both inside and out, you’d easily walk past towards a more gaudy, attention-seeking SoHo bar if it wasn’t for the endless trail of onlookers pointing out the restaurant they’ve heard is “Really really good OMG!”. Word of Mouth and some well-placed marketing speaks louder than neon signs.

interior flat iron steak

As with most debutants to the London culinary scene, they enforce a no-reservation policy. Frustrating? Yes, but compared to the likes of MEATliquor, at least you can ask Friendly Clipboard Lady to take your name down as you dual-task waiting for a table with quaffing carafes of wine and popcorn in the basement bar.

Entering the main restaurant is a squeeze; it’s a small floor space so they’ve packed the tables in tightly, then they pack you onto the table tightly. There’s no room to be shy either, you’ll most likely be rubbing elbows with other meat-revellers on either side of you throughout your meal. This is ok though, because everyone is so excited to have a place at the table that they’re a very friendly bunch. No Nasty Nicks here.

We got lucky and were led to a ‘detached’ table; the 4 bedroom house lording it over the block of flats next door. Maybe they could see fear in Laura’s eyes and wanted to ease her into the experience. Ordering is quick and painless; steak (however you want it, Laura risked a punchy medium), a selection of four sauces (the usual, plus Fred’s sauce; a spicey tomato conconction) a small range of sides (chips and creamed spinach for me please) and more wine. A light hum of chatter fills the room, easing you back in your chair as you relax and wait for all of ten minutes before your food arrives. Service With A Smile makes sure you’ve got everything you need before tucking into the dish; tender sliced fillet steak, chilled fresh salad, crispy handcut chips and utterly filthy (in a good way, always in a good way) creamy spinach. The food was fantastic and gone in minutes. Not just on my plate but Laura’s too, her mini meat cleaver slamming down on the warm flat iron with a hefty “I LOVE STEAK!”; the cry of the converted.

£20 a head for the creation of a steak lover? Priceless.