Sunday, March 30, 2008

Service Superstar

Generally, I take a lot of dining risks. I like to try new places all the time, and I understand how variable dining experiences can be for even the restaurant who has everything down. There are busy nights, being short-staffed, personal emergencies, overworked staff, and all sorts of things that can suddenly go wrong. So everyone deserves to be cut a little slack on occassion. But there are also times when I want to make sure that I am going to have great service. Maybe I'm treating myself after a rough week at work, and I'm just not in the mood to risk having my meal ruined by some snarky or oblivious waiter. Where do I turn for sure-fire great service? Hotel restaurants. Fine hotels are a shrine to good service - it's a core part of the product that they provide, from the moment you check in, to housekeeping, and right down to their dining establishments. It's definitely a priority, and on top of that they also need to be able to impress an international and very particular clientele. Therefore, you wind up having an establishment in town that meets the highest service standards in the world, rather than doing just enough to appease the laid-back locals. There is likely some sort of formal training program in place, and all the details of the craft of fine dining service are imparted to all the staff. Incidentally, hotels are also a great place to find a clean washroom, especially when you are sightseeing in a town and doing a lot of walking.

The other easy sure-fire good service option, besides hotel restaurants, is to find a good authentic Japanese restaurant, because you're just not likely to find a snarky server in a Japanese restaurant. It can be a less formal experience (for example, it doesn't involve bringing you all sorts of cutlery throughout the meal), but can be just as detail-oriented.

So who's my service superstar for this post? A gentleman at the downtown Hyatt's Mosaic Bar and Grill (655 Burrard Street at Georgia St., 604-639-4770). I didn't get his name, but he is an older Chinese gentleman with glasses who is a true professional server. I'm certain he takes pride in a job well done. The other benefit of hotel restaurants is that many tourists staying at the hotel come dressed in various outfits, so service is not dependent on what you wear, at least not at this hotel. The menu at Mosaic is also very interesting, with plenty of dishes that sound good to eat. I had their tasting menu, and in particular enjoyed their butter-poached lobster starter and the amuse bouche that evening - a hot, creamy potato-y soup served in a shot glass. The environment is quite soothing, with low lighting, comfy chairs and big windows overlooking the city street-scene of Burrard. There is also a more casual lounge side which would be a nice spot for a relaxing drink. I don't hear too many people speaking about this restaurant, but I think their menu is really nicely put together, and wish I could provide a link to it, but they don't have it posted on the website. They have a Sunday brunch buffet ($35) menu posted though, which sounds great. Obviously, fine dining in hotel restaurants can cost quite a bit, but if it's well done, I think it's well worth it. Drop in for a cocktail and an appy for a lower cost version of the treat.

1 comment:

Indonesia-Eats said...

Hi there,
If you like ethnic food, go try Pondok Indonesia, on Commercial Drive.

http://www.pondokindonesia.com/

Pepy