Sunday, August 26, 2012
What makes a restaurant special? Apart from the food, the service!
How about the place itself? I would like to think, even though it attracts people to come, but if the food wasn't good, then people wouldn't go there for the second time. However, if the food was good, no matter how far the location is and how tacky the restaurant looks like, people would still go all the way from their house just to dine in there.
So, the food and the service are two factors that make a restaurant special, for me.
One night in Portland, Oregon, I had dinner at The Parish with Jeff, a friend of mine who came to visit me for the weekend. It was his last day in Portland and after the dinner, he had to drive back to Vancouver, Canada. Being the last day in the city where there are more restaurants per capita than any other cities in the US, he wanted to choose one of the best places to eat. So, after walking around, we stopped at The Parish, a restaurant that is famous for its oysters.
The restaurant looked fancy with its big glass windows and modern-minimalistic design. I wasn't so keen to dine in there since I'm a vegetarian, but, hey, we should honor our guest, right? When the waitress came with the menu, I couldn't find anything interesting for vegetarians and the waitress also couldn't recommend something that wasn't in the menu, either.
So, I chose one dish from the menu, which has a pretty cool name: "The Hippin' John". It has all the ingredients that I didn't like: red beans, tomatoes and celery. The only thing that I liked was only the cheese and I had no idea how this "Hippin' John" looked like, but hey, it's a food adventure, so let's give it a shot!
When the waitress came with my dish, I couldn't stop looking at it with a disappointment. It looked like our breakfast dish in Indonesia, which was called "Bubur Kacang Hijau" (green been porridge). The only difference was this dish in front of me was made of red beans with a bit of tomatoes, celery and melted cheese on the top!
I took a spoonful of the red beans, hoping to get a little surprise, but nope, unfortunately the dish tasted plain for my palate. Being disappointed, I took a spoonful of the melted cheese and it tasted good (cheese never failed!). In the end, I only ate the cheese which was only a 1% of the whole dish itself.
My friend seemed to enjoy his Jambalaya (it looked very good) and a plate of oysters. He finished everything and didn't leave anything on his plates. A contrast to my plate! Ha!
When the waitress came to get our plates, she asked me, "How's the food?". I replied, "Plain...". She asked, "Oh.. I'm sorry. Which part don't you like? Or is there anything wrong with the food?"
I tried to be polite by saying, "Uhm.. nothing's wrong with the food, but it was just plain and tasteless. Perhaps it's also because I come from Indonesia where our dishes are rich with flavors and spices, so I'm not used to food with plain taste".
She looked disappointed and said, "Oh.. I'm sorry you didn't like the food. Do you want to order something else then?". I said, "No, I'm ok. Thank you".
When the bill came, I was surprised that I didn't see the "Hippin' John" on it! She said, "We didn't charge your food, because you didn't like it. We apologized that you didn't like our food".
OMG! Was this really happening? How nice they were!!! I was still amazed even when I left the restaurant. I couldn't stop thinking how good they treated their customers. Even though the food wasn't good, the service was superb.
I guess, as customers, we always remember restaurants with not only good food, but also good services. And experience like this made me appreciate that restaurant even more.
So, for restaurant owners out there, always remember this mantra: "Treat your customers like a King!" It always works!