l The spice mice get pest power
THE proliferation of Indian, Chinese and other ethnic restaurants in Birmingham has had some unexpected side effects. Pest control experts at Rentokil have found that mice and cockroaches have developed a taste for pungent foods and won't touch traditional baits. Instead, the men in red coats have resorted to serving up spicy chicken in an effort to trap the vermin. The Rentokil team has also had success with bait based on fat - seems the pests have developed a taste for doner kebabs, too.
l A new meaning to midnight feasts
ROBERT Peel, former top bod at Thistle Hotels, recently confessed that whenever he stays in another company's hotel he always checks the mattress in his room. "I get nervous. I don't want to get bitten," he revealed. Maybe this is just as well - I hear that the little bloodsuckers are back in town. Perhaps hotel guests will have to revert to the Victorian custom of sending a pig into their beds first, to give the bugs something else to get their teeth into.
l ...and at a bus stop near you very soon
IT SEEMS the sky's the limit in Burger King's determination to get one over on its Scottish-named rival. The inventor of the whopper is now looking for those with choppers to drop in on the "world's first fly-thru" restaurant, opening soon at London Gateway motorway services on the M1. A spokeswoman for the company says, in all seriousness, that Burger King is looking at different ways of accommodating the traveller. "There is a demand," she insists. "Airports and train stations are provided for but helicopter people are not." Now, why didn't McDonald's think of that?
l A wise word - run with the herd
RESTAURATEURS anxiously pondering potential sites for new restaurants sometimes spend thousands of pounds on market research to identify the best available. No doubt this works. But so does the blunt (and rather cheaper) advice of Chez Gérard boss Neville Abraham, handed out at one London opening last week. "The trick is to get as close as possible to other successful restaurants, the more the better," he said.
l Top entertainment - and you can eat as well
DESPITE the much-publicised booting out of food critic AA Gill and guests from Gordon Ramsay's new restaurant, it seems that the two Michelin-starred chef still has some supporters. This splendid letter reached London's Evening Standard a few days after the event: "If you want an exciting night out, there is nothing more exhilarating than visiting a restaurant where you can hear the cries of those poor little sous chefs being beaten in the kitchen; not knowing if the meal will be poetry or purgatory; seeing Joan Collins thrown out; or wondering whether the staff will have mutinied and left before you even get there. Hurrah for the temperamental Gordon Ramsays of this world for bringing some sparkle into London restaurants."
l No chance of a quiet pint, then?
A RECENTLY renovated west London pub, the Prince Albert in Twickenham, has put up boards advertising its new attractions. One of these proclaims - proudly, I assume - its "beautiful landscaped beer garden and cacophonous aviary". Nothing to do with sales of Famous Grouse, Old Speckled Hen or Woodpecker, I'm told.