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A Year of Triumphs and Trials: Reflecting on 2023 and Embracing 2024




Happy New Year, everyone! Though I'm a bit late to the celebration, the start of the year has been a whirlwind. After hosting our first-ever Christmas and New Year's Eve events, which were incredibly well-received, we needed a breather. A mix of exhaustion and stress meant we spent most parts of the recent days sleeping it off at a place where we had no connectivity.

Now that I am at a place where I have some connectivity, reading the bad news about so many restaurant closures makes me wish I could go back to no connectivity at all!

One of these days, we in hospitality will wake up and say, ‘Things are going to get better from now,’ but we are not there yet. They are only getting worse. (The email from the electric company with £8K plus bill for December isn’t making things easier! )


Reflecting on 2023, it was a remarkable year for our restaurant. We moved to our dream location and We've introduced an array of exciting menus since our opening in February. Our beer pairing collaboration with Siren Craft and Double-Barrelled Breweries, along with a special wine pairing event with Milton Sandford Wines, were highlights. The memory of hosting 80 guests in our then-unfinished restaurant, warmed only by mobile heaters, is still fresh in my mind. Our 10-year celebratory ER lunch was also a milestone.


Our small plates menu, though short-lived, was a resounding success. The demand for its return is overwhelming, and we cannot wait to reintroduce it with new, tantalising dishes. Our monthly regional specials from India garnered fantastic feedback, particularly our December Christmas menu, which was a huge hit.


The Christmas and Boxing Day feast was a personal triumph. Cooking 40 lamb legs in two days was an intense yet rewarding experience, and the rebooking requests for next Christmas are both humbling and motivating.


Our New Year's Eve celebration, a first for us, featured a four-course meal and Djing by John Luther, THE 'John’s Mixed Basket' legend and his lovely friend Dave. The night was a perfect blend of amazing music, fun, friendship, and joy, capping off a year of hard work, creativity & love exactly the way we’ve wanted to.


2023 also brought us amazing recognition, with reviews from Grace Dent in The Guardian and Tom Parker Bowles in the Daily Mail. Making it to Grace Dent’s year-end favourites was incredibly validating. Additionally, our Peanut Butter Ice Cream won 'Best Dessert' on Edible Reading’s list, and Clay’s was named 'Best Restaurant of the Year' – recognition that feels especially sweet coming from our home community.


Last year’s race to survival pushed us to our limits, affecting our team's well-being (Hat's off to them for standing by me through everything). To ensure sustainability, better quality and some work-life balance, we're making some adjustments in 2024.


As always, we are grateful for the incredible love and support you give us. Even more friends have joined our Clay's extended family since our move to Caversham, and we hope to keep adding more in 2024. You know we Indians love big families! :-)


See you all very soon.


With love,

Nandana


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