I have had the debate for a long time that good service can change an average meal into an exceptional one. There are some that disagree and say that the food speaks for itself. It tends to be that the better the food, the better the service but I have had some atrocious service in supposed excellent restaurants and impeccable service in a Café.
One particular level of service that I’m not sure will ever be beaten was at a 2 Michelin starred saloon. Before even opening my mouth I was informed that my friend was waiting for me and that drinks were already at the table. How did they know who I was and who I was meeting? I find that sort of thing pretty impressive. The food is always incredible but would it be the same if the staff weren’t so exceptional? This level of service I like to have once in a while otherwise all other service would be a catastrophe in comparison.
When service is terrible, does the food taste different? I think so. I once had Quail and wild mushroom tagliatelle in a very popular restaurant. I like Quail, I like mushrooms and I like tagliatelle. Did I like this? No. Now was it because the food was poor or was it because the staff were some sort of joke. They were terrible to us – most likely because I wasn’t smothered in Jack Wills and Ralph Lauren. How can a restaurant allow its staff to be so judgemental and downright rude.
I once arrived at a restaurant and were stared at by members of staff in the car park – what was that even about? It’s not like I arrive in a Veyron but then I didn’t arrive in a Reliant Robin either. This restaurant has won several awards and even after being given a complimentary starter because the Yorkshire puddings hadn’t been cooked, when you’re sitting at the worst table in the restaurant – despite the fact it wasn’t full – you can see how the meal could be influenced. I certainly don’t want to overhear the bar staff talking about their Saturday night pursuits of drinking and violently vomiting while I’m trying to eat.
Both of the above restaurants are expensive and pretentious. I very recently enjoyed a six course meal with wine to match each course. This was £40 a head. Not only was it a bargain but the service was so amazing it shames the more expensive places. Did I like this meal more because of the quality of the food or because of the quality of the service? I’m pretty sure I liked it more because of the bounteous amount of booze I had consumed.
Maybe I’m expecting too much service for the money. You can see why I’m confused. Which affects the other the most? Take two bowls of the same carrot soup, would it taste the same in a place where you felt like the least important person in the room compared to a place where you are treated exquisitely. All this is before we’ve even factored the atmosphere, your personal mood and the restaurant design into the equation.
If an eatery has been deemed so fashionable that they need minimal lighting, can you really enjoy squinting at the menu to decipher what it is you’d like to order. If the restaurant has been set up like an assault course and to get to your table there’s a risk you can break your ankle on a precariously placed hand bag strap this might cast a cloud over your evening. If you eventually arrive at your destination after shouting at the sat-nav, declaring all road signs as ridiculous and no longer speaking to the people you share your car with, you can see how your experience could be hampered.
Where do you stand?
All That I’m Eating