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What's the best "extra mile" a restaurant has done for you?

What's the best experience you've had with a restaurant that's gone the extra mile. We talk often of bad services and experiences that we've had, and often forget about restaurants doing the extras.

Last week, I had dinner at George. The food and service was good throughout the night. It had been snowing, so there was a nice snowbank seperating the sidewalk and my car parked on Queen Street. But when we left, the staff at George had actually shoveled a path to my car.

I thought that was a nice touch.

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  1. Bistro 990 made a note that it was my father's birthday, so when we finished our meal, even though we did not order dessert, the waiter delivered a plate of desserts, free of charge, with Happy Birthday written around the rim of the plate. I was very touched by that.

    Another great birthday happened at Carmen's Steakhouse in October. The food was disappointing (I've eaten better steak at The Keg, what does that tell you) but the service was impeccable. I did not recall mentioning to the waiter when I made our reservation that it was my mother's birthday, but obviously I did because when dessert was brought to the table, candles were put in each dessert, and the two waiters sang Happy Birthday with our guests. The waiter was just very hospitable and wonderful.

    Yesterday, a friend and I stopped for dinner at Jack Astor's at Yonge Dundas Square, to fill out stomachs quickly before returning to the mall for last minute shopping. Our waiter, Curtis, could not have been friendlier, more helpful, or charming. Just a great guy to have serve us.

    Generally speaking, the food at a restaurant may not be five star or palatable to the more critical Chowhounders, but if the service is great, I keep returning because it's just so nice when wait staff make patrons feel welcome and comfortable.

    1. My SO at the time and I used to frequent a sushi place in Yorkville - Yorkville Sushi, it was aptly called. The sushi chef Sam and the owner, and the lovely waitress named Joy always made it a wonderful experience for us. We were treated like family on every visit. I shed a tear when it closed a year or two after opening.

      At a special meal at Scaramouche, I noted to the host how much I loved the walnut bread when he came by to clear our table. A few minutes later he returned with a whole loaf, hot from the oven.

      This is a nice, positive thread for the holiday season. Good idea, stonedtoronto!

      1. I was dining at Nico's Ristorante in Windsor with three colleagues for dinner. I had a craving for Garlic Bread but was disappointed to not see it on the menu. I casually asked the waiter if by any chance they had Garlic Bread - he stated unfortunately it's not on the menu, but responded by saying he could ask the Chef to make some as they have the ingredients. I did not want to cause any disruption so I politely declined his nice offer. We ordered our entree's and were enjoying a drink, when the waiter dropped off a plate of Garlic Bread for the table to share and mentioned that it's on the house.

        I found this to be a wonderfully kind gesture and really went above and beyond. To this day, it's still the best Garlic Bread I have had the pleasure of tasting. They used fresh mozzarella, and a wonderful blend of garlic and butter on toast.

        I can't wait to return for another meal.

        1. New high end restaurant in FFD and the jfoods were meeting another couple for dinner. Jfoods arrived and were seated at a 4-top when the cell phone rang. Other couple had a family issue and could not make it. jfood approached MOD and told him other couple could not make it and if they needed to reseat at another table he understood. MOD told him to stay. Server was not pleased.

          So server fired the app and the entree at the same time and two bites into the app, the entrees arrived. jfood told the server that they were not ready and actually wanted about 15-20 between app and entree. Sure as shootin' as soon as the apps were cleared the entrees were placed in front of them, now almost cold.

          Jfood calmly walked over to the MOD who was in conversation with a lady (staff) and explained what happened and told him to please give jfood the check for the apps and they would leave and return when all was a bit better. He returned to the table.

          Turns out the lady was the owner and came over to jfood and apologized to both him and mrs jfood and told them she would serve them personally and that if they did not mind she would also tell the chef to plan to have the table ready in 20. In the interim, the owner brought over a selection of cheeses for the jfoods to eat.

          Needless to say the entrees arrived on time, perfectly prepared and absolutely delicious.

          Now the fun began when the owner came over and told jfood the entire meal was comped. A very friendly negotiation ensued because jfood insisted that they pay for the meal and the owner refused. Sorta a bizzaro discussion. They finally agreed on a number.

          Needless to say jfood has been back multiple times, has sent tons of people there and feels that the restaurant is part of the family, and he believes the owner does as well.

          It may not qualify for the extra mile, but boy this was the best customer service jfood has ever experienced.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            wow thats amazing. on your subsequent returns was the surly waiter still employed?

            1. re: jfood

              I used to be in sales and it was kind of gospel that it's a lot harder to win back a dissatisfied customer than to keep an existing one. And to carry it a step further, when we receive either unusually good or bad service, we tend to tell others about it. So the owner won your loyalty which has created plenty more business, I'm sure. And that surly waiter? Well, I wish he'd been my competition when I was selling. I'd have laughed all the way to the bank :)

            2. well i'm sure this doesn't rank up there with spectacular restaurant performances, but while having a birthday dinner with my cousin and heading to the bar within the same restaurant for an after dinner liqueur, the bartender, upon hearing that it was my birthday, and that I also liked Scotch, proceeded to give me none too small samples of several varieties of single malts, some very old and rare ! I got to try a few that I otherwise would not have been able to afford at the time. I had a lovely warm glow when i left, needless to say ! It was a lovely gesture on my birthday.

              1. Chili's in Bennington Vt has a super manager., but a kitchen staff who couldn't care less about what comes out of the kitchen. The past few times we've been there, the broccoli is ALWAYS cold, even though I make a special request for hot broccoli and soft butter. (not the hard-as-icecubes butter usually served.) The fries were stone cold (kitchen staff grabs them off a large plate in the kitchen, rather than cooking them to order) The green peppers that came with the fajitas were not cooked. You get the picture. So we asked for the manager AGAIN, he recognized us as being someone who has complained before, & we assured him we are not looking for something free or comped, just a hot, cooked meal. This guy personally went into the kitchen and cooked our meals himself! (I could see into the kitchen .) Out came hot fajitas, hot broccoli, warm butter and cooked green peppers! Great guy.

                1. My wife and I had dinner at the Grant Grill in San Diego and after getting excellent service throughout the meal, the busser asked if he could box our leftovers. We explained that we had nothing to do with them while we went to the theater, so he offered to have them held for us in the kitchen to pick up after the show. When we went to pick them up, the waitress ran over and gave a huge friendly "how was the show?" and got our boxed leftovers from the kitchen.

                  1. Celebration dinner at a now defunct 5 star in Portland, OR. My father, a notorious crumudgen when it comes to beer(he will ONLY drink Bud Light.....in a bottle!!) asks for a budlight in a bottle and after being informed that they dont stock it, he sulked and ordered a G&T. fastforward to about the second course of our dinner, and the Captain calmly delivers him a Bud light in a bottle! They sent someone out to get a six pack! now the surreal-ness of eating a 150$ tasting menu w/a bud light not withstanding, Thought it was a classy move. Topper was that, when they brought everyones cars around at the end of the night, they had put the remaining 4 beers in his car with a bow and a note thanking him for coming to dinner!!

                    1. We had dinner at L'Ecole, the student run restaurant of the French Culinary Institute in NYC. While enjoying my delicious salad with housemade sausage, I encountered a small piece of hard plastic. I quietly informed the waiter, concerned that the kitchen would want to make sure that packaging didn't fall into a large amount of prepared salad, and the manager came over and thanked me and apologized. We very much enjoyed the remainder of our dinner, including a moderately priced bottle of wine. We were too full for dessert, and when we asked for the check, the manager told us dinner was on the house, because we were so nice and understanding (!). We did not expect any comps for the minor mishap, and would have been thrilled with a comped drink or dessert, but certainly our entire dinner comped was above and beyond.

                      1. We go to this hole in the wall american chinese restaurant, owned by someone who's Korean. The food is decent but we mostly go because the owner/workers are so nice. I was looking at the menu as she talked to us and I told her I wanted something w/ a lot of vegetables. She sparkled and said, I know what to get you--cellophane noodles good? I said, sounds good and she went back and made a great Korean dish herself, something she's probably do in her own kitchen at home. It was delicious and I still have no idea what it's called. It was like being at home!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chowser

                          Was it Chap Chae? http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/gg...

                          (or just google image search it for different versions). It's basically the Korean version of stir fried noodles with tons of veggies. So good!

                          1. re: relativeways1

                            That looks like it. Only, at my request there were a ton of veggies. Thanks--I'll have to remember that for the next time I go to a real Korean restaurant. It was so good!

                        2. II still remembered one time I had brunch with my mom at Brasserie 8 1/2 in NYC and I asked the manager (an older male) where I could get flowers nearby for my mom. He told me that there weren't any flower shops around, but later he pulled some roses from the vase at the front of the restaurants and gave the roses to my mom! I was so delighted by his act.

                          1. At one of my regular haunts, the waiter who was someone I always requested was having a bad night which equated to a bad night for my party. The next time I went, unknowing to myself, the entire evening was comped. Very nice, and to top it off the waiter not only explained what happened but, was back to himself again.

                            1. A bunch of us took my husband out to a steak place for his birthday two years ago. We arrived late, after the hockey game went into overtime, and happened to be the only people in the place. Everything was served a la carte, so when we were deciding which sides to order, the waiter insisted that he'll just bring whatver was best that night. No one argued, and we all ordered our steaks. The steaks came, along with tons of sides. My husband's steak was overcooked, and he was brought a new one. The second one was undercooked, and he was brought a third steak. We weren't planning on dessert, since it was late and the place had obviously stayed open for us, but the waiter brought a huge dessert sampler to our table, along with a slice of birthday cake. They didn't charge us for any of the sides, my husband's steaks, or the dessert.

                              1. This happened a long time ago, but I'm still grateful: When my son was seven or eight years old, he ordered a glass of milk at a Friendly's. As soon it arrived at the table he knocked it over so that all the milk landed on the table, the floor, and the waitress. He was mortified.

                                The waitress did four very kind things:

                                1. Didn't complaiin about being soaked.

                                2. Cleaned up the mess.

                                3. Brought him a new glass of milk - on the house.

                                4. (Best of all:) Reassured him that these things happen, and told him a story, in a very entertaining way, about once having accidently poured hot coffee into a customer's lap.

                                1. Several years ago while traveling on business from Boston to Norwalk CT I was terribly delayed getting on the road and then ran into a frightening rain storm complete with VERY slow white knuckle driving . I think I started out at about 5pm and arrived to Norwalk at just 10pm. I had nothing to eat all day save for coffee in the morning and the ride was too stressful to stop even at a rest stop for Golden Arches. As I arrived into Norwalk it was clear that all of my dinner choices were closed but I did see lights in a small place and still cars in the parking lot. The place was called Dina's. I ventured in to find a few patrons finishing up drinks at the bar and asked for a menu. Barkeep informed me that the kitchen just closed. I was literally one step from tears ( combined stress and major league hunger) when a woman standing at the bar noticed my imminent meltdown and asked me why so late...so I explained. she told me to get a drink and hang on. 10 minutes later she emerged from the kitchen with a platter of frshly made sandwiches. Tuna, roast beef and veggie all on small brioche rolls...on the house. That woman turned out to be Dina and I stop for lunch or dinner whenever I am in the area...just exceptional

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: capeanne

                                    A similar story:

                                    I'd arrived home from a business trip, and made it to my usual haunt, hoping to grab something from the bar menu. Alas, Howard, the owner, informed me that the kitchen had closed a few minutes earlier. Seeing my disappointment, he asked if there was anything he could get me. I wound up getting a burger that he grilled up for me himself!

                                    The burger itself was OK, but the goodwill generated by the gesture was priceless!

                                  2. Several years ago, (2001?) my GF and I went into a new local upscale establishment and the weather went from a sunny day to an unexpected rain storm. After our meal and upon paying for our meal, the checkout clerk gave each of us an umbrella out of kindness for patronizing them.

                                    Unfortunately, they went out of business in 2007, when the local economy was beginning to sour.

                                    1. Not so long ago, my Mother moved near me to take care of my sister who was fighting a stage IV cancer. This wasn't a happy time as you can imagine. I received a call from that same sister one day. She was in total distress. My mother had had a small stroke. Without hesitation, my daughter and I jumped in the car to head to the hospital.

                                      My Mom was in the ER and it took hours for them to complete the tests. Finally she was admitted and it was time to leave. My daughter and I drove back towards the city, exhausted and starving. We decided that what we really wanted was to go to our favorite chinese restaurant and have some comfort food.

                                      We drove the 40 miles... and arrived at the restaurant at 10:15pm only to discover that they had finished serving for the night. The staff was all sitting at the largest table eating a gorgeous meal with many dishes spread over several tables. But, they explained, takeout only at this time of night. I blabbered something about a sick mother, needing food.... and the staff handed us freshly cooked whole fish from one of their platters.

                                      I immediately put my face to the sky to drop the fish into my mouth. Amazing flavor..... I asked if this was on the menu. "Oh no, not American like" it was explained. They gave us two more fish and we were off.

                                      The kindness of these people made me feel such comfort and caring on a night when I really needed it. I still eat there whenever I need good northern Chinese food. They have never offered me the off-menu fish again, but they always ask me about my mother.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        This is not an instance where the restauant did something nice, but rather where my sister & her husband did. It's worth telling.

                                        My BIL is a retired army colonel, and when he travels with my sister, they sometimes stay in places that are designed as "R&R" retreats for service people on leave. They were in Germany 3 years ago, in Garmisch. They went to dinner at a very nice (expensive) restarant, and saw a younger couple a few tables over. They recognized them from the hotel. He was on an R&R from Iraq, and his wife had come from the states with the kiddies to spend Christmas. They were not rolling in dough. It was obvious that this dinner in the nice restaurant was a "date", and a special time for the 2 of them, probably the only one they had had in the past year.

                                        My sister & brother in law finished their dinner well before the young couple did. They told the manager that the couple's dinner was on them, with their thanks for serving their country, and bought a bottle of wine for them. They left before the manager "sprug" the surprise.

                                        The next day at the hotel, the young couple & their brood caught up with them at breakfast & could not have been more grateful. They were indeed there on a shoe-string, and that was the first time they had been alone in over a year. It meant the world to them that someone would do that for them. My sister & BIL continue to get Christmas cards from them.

                                        Small acts of kindness are often the greatest gifts.

                                      2. I mentioned in passing to Mary Brady (Diamond Jim Brady's - Novi, MI.) that I liked soft-shelled crabs simply dusted in some flavored flour and fried. Two weeks later, when the crabs were available, she featured as one of the specials, "Soft-Shelled Crabs ala Sony Bob". I was pumped up like a proud peacock! I still have one of the menus. I was made to feel very special. (BTW, for anyone that knows the establishment, this wouldn't come as a surprise; everyone is made to feel special).

                                        1. I had taken some colleagues out to dinner at my favorite French restaurant in Amsterdam a few years ago. Great food, and an outstanding wine list - but one of the party was a very ornery Texan who insisted that he wanted iced tea with his meal. The staff had never even heard of this, iced tea not being common in Europe (and unheard-of in such a setting), but they rolled with it. Ten minutes later he had a full pitcher in front of him, making him happy while the rest of us enjoyed our wine. And my already-favorite place went up yet another notch in my estimation.

                                          1. The food an wine were wonderful,all was eaten.During dessert,cordials and coffee the weather turned very shirty.ICE & SNOW Our waitress and the manager retrieved our auto from valet,had it THOROUGHLY clean and warm,ALL ON THEIR OWN.As regulars with an old relationship we were not overly surprized,however this was above and way beyond expected
                                            Our pleasure was met with an equal increase of tip.We are still monthly regulars for all of the same service reasons!!!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: lcool

                                              On my first visit to the Pacific Dining Car in Los Angeles 20+ years ago, it was cold and wet outside. When we left the restaurant, my car was already brought up to the door by the valet so we didn't have to wait at all. Very nice.

                                            2. Oddly enough, some of the best service I'd ever had was at an IHOP. We'd gone out to dinner with some friends and then part of the group wanted to see a movie, while others weren't interested. Those of us who didn't see the movie went to the IHOP down the road with plans to meet up again after the movie was finished. We admitted to our server that we were mostly killing time and were only getting coffee and such, so don't worry too much about us.

                                              This server was young (late teens), and we'd just given him permission to ignore us after our initial order of drinks. Despite that, he stopped by several times to check on us, making sure we didn't need anything extra, and refilling our water glasses. Kid got a 100% tip on a $10 order.

                                              1. My favorite post college Chinese resto didn't have a liquor license but would gladly send a waiter across the street for beer or wine for you. This would have been extra mileage enough but one night there were about 8 of us having a rather good time when a policeman walked in and went back to talk to the owner in the kitchen. The owner's wife comes out of the kitchen and told us to leave quickly and come back tomorrow for the check. It turns out that the local laws had changed and someone had called in a complaint about us carrying alcohol into an unlicensed place. The owner kept the police tied up long enough for us to beat feet and avoid an expensive citation.

                                                1. Earlier this year I was solo in Houston on a business trip. I try to not let being solo stop me from getting out there and enjoying good food, so I took myself and a magazine to *17 for dinner. Immediately after being seated, they had to move me as I had accidentally been seated at the end of long set of tables booked later in the evening for a large group. I didn't mind at all since I hadn't even picked up the menu yet and the restaurant was empty at that early hour. The staff was incredibly gracious and friendly, answering all my questions about the food and bringing complimentary wine and desserts, which was unnecessary given the situation. But what totally blew me away, is when I asked the waiter if it was easy to catch a cab outside the restuarant, he offered complimentary services of the hotel chauffer instead. I was given a ride back to my hotel in a big black SUV limo once I was finished with dinner. My total dinner ticket only came to about $40, and I am still amazed at the service and kindness of the staff. (The food was terrific too!)