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Brought up Mar 31, 2010

How to spot a great waiter.

Eating out for me should be a wonderful experience, it should take a person away from their troubles and make them feel truly important, fabulous and wanted. It starts with a perfect dish, but it should be heightened by the dinning room staff. It isn't about bringing food to a table, and taking orders. At a high quality restaurant the waiter should think of themselves as a tour guide. They do more to set the mood and mold the experience than any level of decorating, regardless of how exquisite. Most patrons at a most restaurants will know exactly what they want, the real challenge lies in the few that ask questions. To patrons of fine dining I challenge you to really pay attention to your waiter, and tip appropriately.

It may be a culture thing, but since I have moved from New Orleans, slightly before Katrina, to Denver I have begun to feel that the practice of great waiters at great restaurants is a dieing tradition.

I think we can all conjure ideas of the worst wait experience we have had, but let me share my best experience with you. This young man was neatly dressed, he had visible tattoos but nothing offensive. He started by smiling making eye contact at both of us. He knew the specials in a great deal of detail, but didn't drone on about them. When asked he suggested a wine based on a balance between my date and my own tastes. Just as one would expect of a fine waiter he was obviously a fan of the food and wine that he delivered. He could name ingredients in dishes and managed to keep our table clean without me ever really noticing him tidying up. He didn't talk for minutes about his daughters, or go on about his pets, yet gave us the distinct feeling that he was glad we were there, and he never assumed that my date was, “in charge” of the meal. To sum up all of his positive actions in one phrase he paid attention. In the world we live in of fast food, computers, and self importance; being truly paid attention to is a thrilling thing. As a matter of fact it felt like he didn't have any other tables!

So should you encounter such a fabulous waiter, if while dinning you notice the subtle impact of their expertise on your experience, remember that the waiter is the only person in the restaurant that truly works for you.


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