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38


EXCELLENT RESTAURANTS


The Laughing Monk


Totnes Rd, Strete, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 0RN bookings@thelaughingmonkdevon.co.uk


01803 770639


www.thelaughingmonkdevon.co.uk Open: Tuesday - Saturday from 6.30pm


Award Winning Food In Strete Owners: Ben & Jackie Handley (Ben is Head Chef, Jackie looks after everything else!) Owners since March 2008


A Conversation with Ben Handley, Head Chef


What’s special about the restaurant? You have to care deeply about what you are doing and you have to put a huge amount of hours in to maintain a consistent standard. Being organised is so important, when the doors open you have got to be ready, you can’t leave anything to chance… A good reputation takes years to achieve but can easily disappear if you take your foot off the gas!!


Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday from 6.30pm (6pm Summer). We’re often fully booked during the high season so you need to book early to secure a table.


How long have you been a chef? I started when I was 16 and I am now 46 so thats 30 years ….that’s a lot of miles !


Current top reviews on TripAdvisor


“We need more restaurants like this” ‘Everything you can expect from a good restaurant. Genuine, local food with friendly staff, in quiet surroundings and warm decor. Great fish and seafood dishes.’ Dec 2016


“Excellent food, great service, lovely ambience” ‘Late November is not the best time of year to celebrate a wedding anniversary, as many restaurants are quiet. However, this restaurant was recommended to us and having only moved into the area this year, we are delighted with this find. An interesting menu and our meals were beautifully cooked and presented. An extensive wine list and the lady serving was friendly and knowledgeable. We will definitely return.’ Nov 2016


How did you get such an excellent ranking on TripAdvisor? I think it’s because we provide good local food combined with great service and in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. Our portions are decently sized, we’re not too expensive and we only use quality ingredients. We have many regular customers,


a lot from Dartmouth as well as many holiday-makers. Decent weather can play such an important part in our trade e.g. we had a great September last year that was actually better than July. Although tastes in food have changed over the past 10 years, peo- ple still want good service and value for money – we’re all more knowl- edgeable about food so expectations


of customers are high. Yes, sometimes customers comment that eating out in restaurants is expensive but the costs of running a restaurant have all being going up. The feedback we get is that the cost of eating at the Laugh- ing Monk is well worth the expense. That’s why we’re proud of our TripAd- visor # 1 status – TripAdvisor can be a double-edged sword though but it keeps us on our toes. It is open to abuse but is a great marketing tool if you do things right. When you run your own restaurant business, there’s no point in showing off or just cooking what you think people should be eating. At the end of the day, you have to make the business work and that’s giving your customers what they want. Things don’t tend to change dramatically in this trade. It takes time to find the winning formula, to find out what works and what customers want – that’s why our belly pork has been on the menu for what seems forever! Customers have their clear favourites.


Is the dining experience important? Absolutely. We take great care in providing good service and the feedback seems to support this. It’s important to offer the whole experience, which starts from when you first greet a customer at the door, serving them an aperitif etc. Actually, we’ve got a much better drinks range now e.g. we serve half a dozen


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