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Best Service You Ever Had

Some years ago I was part of a team visiting Los Alamos National Labs, NM reviewing a contract and one night our Lab's host suggested that we go to the nearby town of White Rock for dinner. I can't recall the name of the restaurant but White Rock was quite a small town so this may have been the premier restaurant there. There were about 16 people in our group and after we'd been seated the waitress, in her mid-twenties, came to take our drink order. She never wrote a single thing down. She kept her hands folded in front of her. She stood on one side of the table and started with the person directly opposite her. She simply looked very intently at each diner and nodded her head when the order had been given. The drinks soon arrived on a cart and she flawlessly put every drink in front of the right person. Exact same with the appetizers and then the main courses and last the desserts and coffee. She and a helper arrived with the food plates on a cart and he followed her around the table as she flawlessly served each person. Of course everyone picked up on her procedure which I imagine was some sort of mental association of the diner's appearance and his/her order. Needless to say, she got a massive tip.

So, folks, what really superlative service experiences have you had?

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  1. I once took my boyfriend (now husband) to Jean-Georges for his birthday. I never mentioned that it was his birthday to the staff, but they overheard us talking about it. They brought out a small birthday cake at the end (no singing, thank goodness). While he was kind of embarrassed (he hates a big fuss), it was a nice touch on JG's part.

    1. Mine was several years ago at Aquavit in NYC. Our party was two couples who hadn't seen each other in years and wanted to catch up. Apart from taking our order (and dessert/coffee order) and bringing the check, I don't think we interacted with the servers much because we were so intent on our conversation. Every once in a while I would look down and realize a plate had come or gone. My water and wine glasses were never empty, but I literally never noticed anyone coming or going. It was completely and utterly seamless.

      On other occasions at the same restaurant, when I was less focused on my dining companions, service had been very friendly, even chatty, explaining dishes in detail, talking about different wines, etc.

      To me, that's the mark of really good service-- servers who can read tables and adjust to the needs of individual diners.

      1. One Chinese restaurant lunch in 1990 sticks out above all other meals in terms of best service ever. I forget the restaurant name but it was (is?) on Rt.3 near West Chester, PA. It was almost identical to ThaiNut's experience.

        Twelve of us entered to take the large main table. Once seated and having reviewed the menu, a Chinese waiter with a weathered face who appeared to be at least 70, quietly inquired as to our orders. He intently studied our faces as we talked and stood hands behind without writing a thing. The 12 soups were out within two minutes (with all 12 on his tray) and promptly distributed. The main courses were even more spectacular as he arrived with four plates on each arm and you could hear the stir fried entrees still sizzling. He adeptly distributed each plate and rushed back for the remaining four. We sat with dropped jaws. Tea and water were replenished when necessary and special requests were attended to with just a cursory glance in his direction. He was probably the most professional waiter I've ever encountered and he, too, got a wad of a cash tip from his stunned patrons.

        "Helicopter waiters" make me uncomfortable with their hovering and need to fill my water glass after every sip. Attitude will drive me away for good. But the professionalism of this one elderly Chinese waiter with his astounding memory, physical agility and receptiveness to the slightlest nuance of a patron's needs clearly established his service as "best ever."

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chefpaulo

          410 Bank Street in Cape May NJ last September. Memorable service (the young man was the son of a chef) and the usually incredible meal to be found in this, one of our favorite restaurants -- everything was perfect.

          1. re: dolores

            Yes, 410 Bank St. was another spectacular meal, just about a year after my aforementioned Chinese experience. Superb service.

            That reminds me of the only time I went to Chef Vola's in A.C. The waiter took a full 10 minutes to review the list of specials for the evening, each described in succulent detail. His service and the meal were...well...that's why no one ever talks about it. Great secrets are best kept.

            1. re: Chefpaulo

              Chefpaulo, I've not read of too many folks who know 410.

              Based on the fact that you like them, I'll have to add Chef Vola's to my 'must try' list if I travel down that way. Thanks.

              1. re: dolores

                Dolores, Chef Vola's is a "private" restaurant. There's no phone listing and there's no sign outside. It is in the basement of a private home on a sidestreet of A.C. marked only by some white Christmas lights along the fence. For a summer dinner, you must reserve 4 to 6 months in advance. I know I have a card here and am trying to find it for you. It was a favorite hangout of Sinatra and the Ratpack as well as dozens of other celebrities whose photos line the stairway down to the basement. I hope it is still in business as I was there in late October of 12 years ago. Still, we had to reserve in August.

                CP

                1. re: Chefpaulo

                  WOW! I have to eat my words! I just Googled Chef Vola to check in. Chef Vola's is now public and even Zagat rated - 111 South Albion Place in A.C. I guess the secret is out after 12 years but I hope that doesn't mean quality has changed.

                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                    Wow, how funny. Yes, I found it on Google and thought from the picture that the family looked like they meant business, i.e., were serious about their food.

                    Chefpaulo, you'll have to visit again and let us all know.

        2. Chanterelle in NYC. My mom and I walked in by accident not knowing the price point and quality of restaurant we were entering. After gulping and checking her wallet, and taking a deep breath, my mom decided we should have a treat and stay. We were in jeans and this was our first fine dining experience (back when I was in college). Obviously, we had no reservation, but they were able to seat us almost right away with a warning that we might have to finish up in an hour and a half because of existing reservations. The hour and a half came and went and we weren't rushed a bit. We were treated wonderfully throughout dinner despite our outfits and despite our price-staring. We were never made to feel uncomfortable and were treated like any other guests. I still haven't made it back...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lucia

            We were dining in Chanterelle about 11 or 12 years ago, and I'll never forget it. During the meal, our waiter was stationed some six feet or so away from the table as silent and unobtrusive as a potted plant. Moi, having had a wee bit much of the grape, dropped my fork as I was attempting to replace it plate-side. This guy actually made a diving catch of the thing before it hit the floor, and without a word produced another and receded back into the woodwork. Now that's service!

          2. Of course places like The Inn at Little Washington...service was incredible but that is to be expected. Some 'surprise above and beyond' what was expected were two similar events at two separated restaurants. One was a place called Seasons which is no longer here since the chef moved to NC, but he made a signature dish called Lobster Americana and it was hubby single favorite dish in town. Lobster tail stuffed with crab and scallops with a lovely 'not to heavy' cream sauce. One night the chef noticed our name on the reservation list and saved the last order for Dh and he always made it 'extra special' for him with tons of crab, etc.

            We had a similar thing happen at another local place, One North Belmont, where the maitre'd noticed our name and ensure my favorite Dover Sole would be available.

            1. There's been a few instances where I've encountered very chowish waitstaff, who very careful steered me to the best dishes on the menu (I tried the other dishes on separate trips and they were not as good).

              1. Best service we ever had overall was at Chateau le Crayeres in Reims, but of course you are paying for it. It was amazing how attentive and yet completely unobtrusive the staff was.

                Best service at a meal that wasn’t many, many hundreds of $...... A guy named Peter Calabrese used to be the sommelier at River Street Café in Troy, NY (and I believe he at least effectively ran the front of the house as well – it’s a small place.) We always had impeccable, almost psychic service from him, but there is one incident we particularly remember and talk about almost 10 years later. It was the just before or after Valentine’s Day and we had gone out for our non-Valentine’s Valentine’s dinner. We were young, had been dating about 8 months at that point and Jack was moving three-plus hours away for work in a couple of weeks. Long story, but suffice to say a moment comes when things get a bit sad at our table – no crying, but there is definitely a pall over the evening. Although we are being quiet, trying to get past it, Peter obviously picks up on this awkwardness from the other side of the room with his crazy super waiter radar. Next thing you know, he is chatting us up, telling us about this new dessert wine he just picked up and how much he’d appreciate our opinion on it – would we be willing to sample a glass for him? Some Renwood Amador Ice comes out, along with some little sweets, he chats with us a bit more, and that’s all it took to save the evening.

                The best part is, he was so smooth, it wasn’t until much later, discussing this, that we realized it had to have been more than simply luck.

                He later moved to CA and, I believe, went to work in a restaurant supply company. But many years (and many more expensive dinners) later, he is still the standard by which we judge a server.

                And we still joke that without his interference, we might not have wound up married.

                1. Mansion on Turtle Creek mid-late 80's, Chef Dean really getting his legs under him. Took a couple of us on a tour of the kitchen and prep rooms, gave us a chance to see his kitchen in action, told us to sit down in the dining room and he cooked and brought each dish himself. Asked how it was and then suggested the next course, interacted and then back to his kitchen. It was a personalized tasting menu from one of the great chefs of the last 20 years. Even the serving staff smiled at each course.

                  1. owner operated French/Polish bistro in San Diego's Old Town recommended by a friend, pouring rain so it was slow, only one other couple in the place. turned out to be the owner's birthday and he refused to let us order off the menu and insisted on making us something special, but wouldn't tell us what, OK. served it himself as well.

                    fantastic. I had no idea what the soup was until he spilled (so to speak) - cream of pickle, think, how the heck do you do that w/o curdling?

                    after the entree he joined and treated us to after dinner drinks and talked his dishwasher into giving a lift to our hotel.

                    sadly it's no longer there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hill food

                      Commander's Palace, New Orleans 2003

                      The most impressive part of our meal was when the apples were left off my salad. I alerted our server and asked about them and a look of mock horror crossed his face. He exclaimed "Madame!" and clapped his hand three times, spoke softly to another staff member and a platter of apples arrived within seconds to our table. My mother and I laughed about this for years, imitating the way the waiter said "Madame!". We wished to be always treated like our every wish and desire were there to be fulfilled when dining out. What a treat that was.

                      The second best was a diner in Long Island City, NY 2005. We were visiting for an event (Big Apple to Big Easy benefit for Katrina) and got back to our hotel under the 59th St bridge in the wee hours and we were starving. The desk clerk called this little diner around the corner and spoke quietly for a few minutes. Before we knew it this little red car came racing around the corner. It was the delivery guy from Central America who spoke little English but was utterly charming. He had driven over to pick us up and drive us the few short blocks to the diner because the hour was late and he was assured we were "beautiful ladies". Ha! The food was great, but the hospitality was even better. It was an experience.

                    2. Taillevent, May 1998
                      Our first time at a four-star Paris restaurant, we were welcomed as if patrons of long standing.
                      Hot gougeres presented with aperitifs, left on table, waiter came by to pick them up and pass them to us from time to time...I had a filet of wild bass with a tomato-basil sauce, waiter noticed that I had fish left and the sauce was almost gone - inquired if I would like some more, returned within seconds with a sauceboat of freshly-made sauce...waiters attentive without hovering, every desire anticipated...upon our mentioning in passing that we were celebrating a big anniversary, a bottle of the house Cognac was brought to the table with glasses and left for us to pour at will. The best lunch ever, anywhere.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: buttertart

                        Taillevent for me too - December 2001.

                        It was like we had been eating there for years.

                        1. re: anne7134

                          That is the truly amazing thing about it. They make you feel beyond comfortable. Did you read A Meal Observed by Andrew Todhunter which came out a couple of years ago? Great fun, describes both diner's and the behind-the-scene experience.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            No I didn't, but thanks for the tip - I'm going to add it to Goodreads right now!

                      2. The White Barn Inn. Kennebunkport, ME. Absolute perfection.

                        1. Faro, Portgal, 1987. Little cafe with a sea view. Hub and I were on backpacking wages, and ordered accordingly, but we were given such marvelous attention (with our marvelous food), that it seemed otherwise. Our dessert of strawberries with chantilly cream was presented tableside, the waiter whipping the cream in a large bowl, dolloping it on our berries, and wishing us in broken English a " most happy day and year and life." I can't recall the exchange rate of the dollar to the escudo back then, but it was a most frugal meal. And an enduring memory for the perfect treatment.
                          I will remember that waiter always, for superb treatment.

                          Cay

                          1. Last Christmas, Tru in Chicago. It started from the moment they showed us to our table and had placed by my seat an ottoman for MY PURSE! They had coordinated service in twos, right down to pouring the water. They brought by the cheese trolley, and after I noticed that there was a cheese on a second cheese trolley that hadn't been on ours, they brought me a serving of that without the blink of an eye. I mentioned that I loved the cookie that came with my coffee, and before I knew it, there was a small glassine bag of them at my elbow, compliments of the pastry chef. We also left with small bags of pfeffernusse cookies as thank yous. Unbelievable... the gold standard by which all others will be judged from now on.

                            -----
                            Tru Restaurant
                            676 North Saint Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

                            1. Hiro Sushi, Toronto. Wandered in by myself, got to the hostess. Hostess was pre-empted by Hiro himself and I was waved over to the sushi bar. Got some nice pieces of sushi, personal attention from the man, and the bill itself was very reasonable for what I got. I will always remember this experience as an owner/chef going out of their way to make a lone diner feel welcome.

                              1. Most recent was Hibiscus in London.

                                Faultless service. Dishes came at the right pace. The sommelier helped my partner out with three good glasses of wine. There was absolutely none of that irritating "check back " (you know - the "is everything OK" nonsense).

                                The staff were absolutely worth the rather high 12.5% service charge.

                                1. I know that they get slammed a lot on here, but the best service that I have ever received anywhere was at Antoine's in New Orleans. We had a party of twelve, the waiter (who had been there over 30 years if I recall) never wrote down a thing. He was always there when we needed him and never around when we didn't- don't know how he did that!

                                  1. hmmm either public or grammercy tavern here in NYC or gary danko in sanfrancisco

                                    1. My experience with high-end restaurants is limited but to date, the very best service ever was at Emeril's Orlando. Before that it was at Houston's Winter Park. Hard to deal with Denny's after those guys.

                                      1. Every time I go to France, it is shocking how much better the service is. The staff are usually very knowledgable about the food and the wine. There is a level on anticipatory service that is generally missing in NA, except in the most expensive restaurants. The difference is most noticable in the smaller, neighbourhood places.

                                        But servers tend to be paid more in France and tipping tends to be a higher level. Also a lot on places have daily or weekly prix fixe menus so the kitchen is probably more predictable.

                                        And yes, very few waiters ever write anything down.

                                        1. club floor at the oriental in singapore.
                                          i wanted to adopt melvis after a week there.

                                          1. Nobu, Miami, 2006. Like a ballet. 3 hours, $300, one of the best meals of my life.

                                            1. For me, It is a toss up between: (NYC) Per Se, Le Bernardin, Daniel, Gordon Ramsey. (Chicago) Charlie Trotters, Tru. (SF) Gary Danko. (Sonoma) Cyrus. (Napa) The French Laundry. (LA) Patina, Valentino. (Las Vegas) Picasso, Bouchon. (Santa Fe) Geronimo. (Philadelphia) Le Bec Fin. (Atlanta) Bacchanalia. (Providence, RI) Gracie's. This seems like a lot but each is truly an oasis amidst the sea of sameness, rudeness and just plain uneducated service.

                                              1. Great stories! OP and a few others mentioned servers who commit complicated orders to short-term memory. It freaks me out a little. The way they stare into your eyes and and do that slow methodical nod of the head. Are they mind-melding with us? Sucking the info from our brains? Hypnotizing us with some power of suggestion of their own ("the tuna... you will order the tuna... you will order it rare...") How do they do it?

                                                Also - if we're going to write about good service, I'm reminded of the play "Our Town," where Thornton Wilder references the thousands of meal laid down by mothers during the course of one's lifetime (my inelegant paraphrase). How about that for service, the service of mothers, three meals a day since time immemorial, to mankind?

                                                1. LeRuth's in Gretna about thirty years ago. Then it went down hill and closed.
                                                  But for a brief shining moment it was that memorable that all other services have been compared to it.

                                                  1. OK, I know there's been quite a few-- including a bartender who protected me from people hitting on me when I wanted a quiet evening (sorry, I know it sounds conceited and lame to say that...)-- but most recently was at Number 1 under Balmoral in Edinburgh. The food was exceptional with amuses between each dish, and service that was unobtrusive yet friendly and obliging. When presenting us with our choice of bread (from a massive bread table), one mentioned the bacon bread they had served the night before. The palpable excitement in my response (the 'wow, that sounds amazing' sort) led them to bring out a loaf they recovered. And they offered it up to us. And that. with the walnut bread, was just wonderful and quite memorable. The wine was lovely (and we may have gone off book as we saw it as part of the tasting menu but ordered a bottle for us...) and really, everyone did so much to give us all that we seemed to be interested in. It was friendly, fun, and again, non-obtrusive-- once our conversations at the table were going, they weren't interrupting to show off the next great thing they did,

                                                    So, generous and thoughtful. Really splendid. I have not stopped recommending this place since I've been.

                                                    1. I had a matronly waitress at a local pizzeria sneak me a long sharp handled spoon from the kirchen before I went outside to battle a couple drunken thugs who'd been disrupting the place. When I returned it the next day she refused a tip.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Per Se, this past December.

                                                        We had booked the small private room for a party of ten. Service was flawless. Every detail was perfect. Water and wine glasses filled, perfect cadence to the flow of the tasting menu. We had a pregnant lady with us who couldn't enjoy the wine and certain dishes. The staff kept her happy with beautiful non-alcoholic drinks that special enough that she didn't miss the alcohol, and helped her navigate the menu in a discreet fashion. Our sommelier was astounding, helping us stick to our wine budget yet delivering wonderful wine that matched the dishes perfectly. (I have already posted on this experience - all I can say is wow. She shattered my expectations.) The server in charge of our party was a gentleman named David. He was courteous, efficient, unobtrusive and friendly. We started joking about doughnuts, and raving about the Doughnut Plant. He joined in the discussion, and later in the evening presented us with an extra dessert course of "Coffee and Doughnuts" as a small but delicious joke. Everything about the service was absolute perfection.

                                                        But the moment that really blew me away?

                                                        There is a small hallway between the door of the private room and the rest of the dining room. I had lost my hair due to recent medical treatments, and I was wearing a hat as I was feeling a little self-conscious. (tastebuds were back thank goodness, but the hair took longer to return). It was hot in the room, due to food and wine, and since I was with close friends, I took off my hat. At one point in time I had to go to the bathroom, as did my friend. We were both a little tipsy, so we went arm in arm out the door of the private room, down the little hallway, and were about to step into the main dining room, when I stopped and said, "oh, my hat". She said "Do you want me to go get it for you? Although I don't think you should worry." I said, "Nah, let's just go to the bathroom..." This whole thing took maybe about 10 seconds. As we were started to go, I heard a quiet "Here's your hat." It was David. In that short 10 seconds, he had sized up the whole situation, gone into the room, retrieved my hat, and caught me in time to give it to me. He was so discreet that when we returned from the restroom, no one else in our party had even noticed he had taken the hat. I was incredibly touched that someone could be so sensitive to this situation, and handle it in such a discreet and kind manner. The rest of the evening was superlative service. This was a moment of incredible kindness.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: moh

                                                          Great story Moh! I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. : )

                                                          1. re: moh

                                                            I'm all teary just reading about this "moment of incredible kindness." What a nice man. Not just as a terrific server - he's a terrific person. To step up like that is just amazing.

                                                            1. re: moh

                                                              It is amazing that such a seemingly small act could have such an impact on me, but it did. And it came at a time I really needed it. The whole evening was a very special night for many reasons.

                                                            2. Many years ago in San Clemente, CA (mid-80's) was a restaurant called Bonsoir Charles. It was a (very) little French Bistro owned and operated by...Charles. He was the host, maitre d' and cook. He brought food to your table and gave you wine recommendations (great wine list!)
                                                              Curried pumpkin soup, Beef Bourguignonne and chocolate souffles. A little footstool for the ladies and penlights so you could see your menu. The best idea, however, was to let Charles decide for you what dinner would be. And after dinner, he would walk out to your car with you. I love that type of personal connection (and the food was fabulous!).

                                                              Good service that was less personal? 2001. My daughter and I had done a college tour of California, up 101 and back down 1(San Diego to Santa Cruz and back) We were rather sick of each other and our little car and came down through Big Sur to give us something to talk about and look at. Our destination was the Inn at Morro Bay, snuggly room with down comforters and no college tours scheduled. Heaven. We left Carmel and headed down the coast, drove for 2 hours only to find that there was a landslide and the road was blocked. Turned around (remember , this is Big Sur, nothing around but beautiful scenery !) and headed back to Carmel , over to 101 and down to Morro Bay. It added an additional 5 1/2 HOURS onto our trip. All that kept us going was the thought of a nice dinner in their lovely restaurant.

                                                              When we got to Morro Bay it was after 9. We checked in, told the person at the front desk about our ordeal and said all we really wanted was a good dinner since we hadn't eaten in a very long time. Silence.

                                                              "Our restaurant is closed for the night."

                                                              My daughter started bawling, great hiccuping sobs (she was 16....drama) saying, "I. Am. So. Hungry. *SOB* " Poor baby :(

                                                              The woman immediately called the kitchen, told them to hold off on cleaning up and handed my daughter the menu ." Pick anything that sounds good, honey" she said, and proceeded to get it to our room before we were done unpacking. (Thank you....)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: dockhl

                                                                1979, Cap Haitien, Haiti

                                                                I was part of a group of students that would go to CH every year to provide medical care; we always stayed at the Hotel Mont Joli, and got to meet the local, upper class young adults who hung out at the hotel and listened to the steel drum band. They took a few of us to a magnificent, remote and deserted beach, Labadie, for the day.Some fisherman caught fish for us and prepared lunch, serving us on banana leaves on the beach, accompanied by Prestige beer and Barbancourt rhum. Lobster, fish, beans and rice. Never tasted better. Warm clear water.....and remembering that we had just come from Philly, in February! A little difference :)

                                                                Sad to say that Labadie is now a stop on for the cruise lines and has been 'developed'. Very sad.

                                                                1. re: dockhl

                                                                  LOL! What a lovely memory! I'm so happy they fed you after that long trip.

                                                                2. Le Gavroche in London for an anniversary lunch about 5 years ago. Service was stellar and seamelss from being greeted at the door to being escorted out when we were through. The waitstaff anticipated every need and took care of it without interrupting us and of course the dining room is gorgeous too.

                                                                  1. in Vienna at the Hotel Sacher...white golve, friendly, un pretentious..it was an unforgettable meal

                                                                    1. The best I've ever had was at Commander's Palace in New Orleans. It was almost like slight-of -hand. Our wine glasses stayed full without our realizing someone had re-filled them - that sort of service. I think we had 3 servers, but you really didn't realize they were there. It was absolutely seamless.

                                                                      1. Canlis Restaurant in Seattle - it was my 50th birthday. The waitstaff were attentive but seemingly almost invisible at times. It was quite amazing. I'll never forget it.

                                                                        1. Gary Danko in San Francisco has excellent, helpful, non-snooty and unintrusive serviceThe one time we went to the French Laundry the service was flawless. Closer to home, and a lot more regularly, at Athena Grill in Santa Clara, Ronny always greets us like old friends, determines that yes, we'd like a bottle of retsina and brings it immediately.

                                                                          1. Two come to mind, the first in the distant past, at Biba in Sacramento. My husband, myself and our 7 year old son were there for dinner, and my son could not decide what he wanted. Biba Caggiano, the owner, was cruising the dining room as she does most evenings, and stopped to say what a charming (and young man) we had there, and asked what he was having for dinner. He replied that he did not know, he could not decide. At that point, she takes him off to the kitchen (along with me) to show him what his options were. "This is the tortellini, this is the ravioli, etc.". A choice was made. We've returned their many, many times, including our dinner there with our son, before he left for college.

                                                                            Second was very recent, as I've remarried and held the wedding and luncheon reception at La Foret in San Jose. We got through the ceremony just fine, and the majority of the guests were seated. Tommy (the head waiter) noticed that after all the orders were placed, that we had four seats not yet filled, and inquired if we had four less guests than stated, or were they elsewhere. They were elsewhere and very, very late. Tommy assured the bride that when they arrived, despite missing the ceremony, that they would be able to order what they wanted (and this was my brother and his family running late, due to circumstances beyond their control). They arrived, were warmly greeted and seated, and despite the cake already having been cut, their entrees were ordered and served pronto. Just perfect!

                                                                            1. Two experiences, both in the 1980s:

                                                                              Chateau de la Chevre d'Or in Eze (France): More confident of my French language skills than I should've been, I ordered a dish that I hated after one bite. When I asked the waiter about it, he said because my accent was so good, he assumed I knew I was ordering kidneys, although most Americans don't like them (he would have doublechecked if my accent had been faultier). Leave it to an old-school French waiter to compliment a patron on making a mistake! He promptly brought a more palatable entree. Also, a window table wasn't ready for our reservation, and we agreed not to wait so were seated elsewhere in the room. About 45 minutes later, our waiter graciously asked if we'd mind standing for a moment, so he could wheel our table over to the window,replacing a recently-vacated one, so we could enjoy the rest of our meal with a view of the coast.

                                                                              Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo, dinner. My husband ordered some type of steak which didn't come with an expected accompaniment. So, surprised when it arrived, French fryless, he asked if he could have pommes frites. The waiter responded, "un moment, Monsieur", disappeared, and literally in two minutes came back with fries so hot they were still sizzling. Also, as we were enjoying our meal, I noticed periodically that a raspberry tart on a dessert cart being wheeled around the room was slowly disappearing as other patrons ordered slices. Without my saying a word -- and before it was even time to order dessert--our waiter, who'd evidently noticed my glances, appeared to assure me he'd save me a piece. And he did.

                                                                              Being a mind-reader (or face-reader) and anticipating every wish--now, that's service!

                                                                              1. There is a small group of Mexican (even though they are Columbian) family restaurants on Long Island called Meson Ole! We've been to three of their restaurants.
                                                                                It's great Tex-Mex and not fancy.
                                                                                The service is amazing and solicitous!! Water glasses never go beyond half empty and the chips and salsa bowls are always refilled quickly.
                                                                                Amazing, memorable service for this type of place.

                                                                                1. In grad school, significant other and I wanted to have a special meal out to celebrate an anniversary. Of course, the budget was limited as we were both full-time students....but he asked me to choose someplace nice. I posted a message on a chat board asking about whether to go to Restaurant A or to Enoteca Vin in Raleigh, NC.

                                                                                  The GM for Enoteca Vin (Scott Luetgeneau) posted with contact information so we could continue a discussion about 'private arrangements' offline. While I thought it was very nice, I figured it would be a cursory discussion, but nothing would come of it. We could afford about $40 per person (for drink and food, without tip), and this was a place where entrees averaged in the mid 20's. To me, 'private arrangements' usually comes with the connotation of spending big bucks on drinks, multiple courses, etc. I explained our situation to Scott, who said our meager budget (my words, not his :) was no problem. He simply asked if there are any likes/dislikes and if we would want to review the menu in advance. (We declined, preferring to be surprised.)

                                                                                  When we arrived a few weeks later, we were provided with personalized single page menus, which we could take home as souvenirs. First course was 2 different types of seafood ceviches. This was followed by a seasonal vegetable salad.....a bread course with an explained olive oil tasting (I swear, when the server said we would detect a 'roasted banana' backnote, I thought he was cracked.....but he was ABSOLUTELY right!).....a homemade braised short rib ravioli dish with wild mushrooms......and finally, a cheese plate to share and chocolate cake for dessert, with 'Best wishes' piped onto the plate in ganache. SO had wine paired with each course (I opted not to drink.)

                                                                                  We were blown away by the service and attention to detail, especially since we probably spent much less than the average customer. We tipped generously, and sent a thank you note later in the week.

                                                                                  Enoteca Vin closed several years ago. I am heartened to see that Scott, as well as the head chef (Ashley Christensen) have seen much success in the area through other ventures. I hope the same is true for the other staff there who helped to make the evening such a wonderful experience.