doc martens leeds Bad trend at some city restaurants
If I being honest I would tell you that I wasn exactly the coolest kid in high school. I know, I know, shocking right? I didn wear designer threads, as my mom would say I was big boned, and I was always was a step or two behind what the kids were listening to.
Like many teens, I would spend nights tossing and turning, worrying about these insignificant details. Fast forward to today, and I can say that I still not cool. The difference is that at this point in my life I am happy with the person I am and less concerned about how others view me. It not to say that I don look in the mirror and want to improve things about me, both inside and out, but now I do it so I can fit into my pants, not so I can fit in.
Over the past couple of years I have seen a trend in our dining community that has left me flashing back to my high school days, having those same self doubts of years ago. Let me explain. This past weekend I had the rare chance to duck out early on a Friday night to go for dinner with my wife.
Disappointing experienceI was very anxious to take in the experience because I had heard such wonderful things. The restaurant, which shall remain nameless, has been very well received in the food community, and when it comes to the food I have to say that all of the reviews are right. Each dish we took in, and we tried a lot of them, lived up or even surpassed my expectations, leaving me mumbling to myself about how the chef could achieve those flavours, or taking mental notes about a specific cooking technique, or plating idea. As a guy who has cooked a while, and also eaten my fair share of good meals I am seldom surprised, so when I am, it a real treat.
So what was wrong you ask? Well, I spent the vast majority of my night feeling like I wasn cool enough to sit in the room. It started the moment we walked in, having hardly been greeted at all, we found our guests and got ourselves to the table.
It was a small room, and they were easy to find, so no big deal. Besides, we were a few minutes late for our reservation, which I felt bad about, because I should know better. Our guests had already ordered a drink and were making their way through it.
We decided what we wanted to order to drink and then waited, and waited. When the server did come by, there was very little exchange,
but our drink order was taken, and about ten minutes later, our beverages arrived. When they did we asked our server about the menu, having never been there before.
We figured what better way to know what we should try, and what to avoid. She gave us a couple of suggestions, and we order them, and then we ordered more. We were out to try new things after all. We also ordered a bottle of wine.
Absent serverOff she went and about ten minutes later out came some of our food and the wine. Over the next hour dishes kept coming from the kitchen, as expected, because we asked to just have them come out as they were ready. As a new dish arrived we were told the title of the dish, and anything we were done with as cleared. About halfway through the experience we had decided to keep grazing, trying a few more dishes.
Despite the room being tiny without much room to hide, we found ourselves waiting another 15 minutes to get our server attention. At the time, our wine glasses were empty too. We asked to order a glass of wine, but felt like it was an inconvenience.
It was at this point where the doubt set in. Had I been rude? Were we not a good table? We were drinking wine, ordering lots of food, not requesting anything special, so what was wrong? Did I smell? Did I look like a bad tipper?
Then I took a harder look around the room. The bartender hadn smiled all night. The hostess or manager, who knows because she never interacted with us, never smiled either. The only other server working shared the same stoic face. Even the kitchen team looked indifferent. As I finished my meal I continued to observe the team, noting that the only time someone so much as smirked was when one of the cooks told her something presumably funny.
As we left we got a halfhearted thank you on the way out the door. Despite this, we tipped 20%, mostly out of a sense of obligation. I work in the industry after all, I should know better than to not tip well.
Bad trendIf this had been a single experience I would have chalked it up to a bad night, but I feel like in recent years this kind of hospitality has become the norm at so many of Edmonton top restaurants. It certainly not the case for all, but I know that some of the best meals I have had in the past few years have also come at the expense of being made to feel like the nerd who tried to sit at the cool kids table at lunch.
When I think about it more so many of top awards doled out for best this and best that seem to focus predominantly on the food. While I can appreciate and understand that, there is more that goes into the dining experience than the food. It the lighting, the sounds, the atmosphere, the cleanliness of the bathrooms, the warmth of the people you interact with. All of these things should define a place rank in the world, or at least their level of success.
Maybe it just complacency. We have created a system where the server expects at least 15% or more and when the bill is $75 or more per person they can just about count their money before the debit machine hits the table. So why try hard?
Maybe I just an ass and get bad service because that what I deserve. That not out of the realm of possibility.
Regardless of what is the root cause of this shift in direction I am reminded of two important phrases I have heard over and over again in my years in this business. The first is that an evening out is as much about the thousand little details that you didn notice, as it is about the few things you did, that go into creating a memorable experience. The second is that you can get service from an ATM machine,
but hospitality is so much more. While the food was memorable it will be the service that will have me in no rush to return. I am also hopeful this trend isn here to stay.