(Good) Service Please!

Every now and then I feel the need to get on my soapbox and today my topic is the standard of wait service in (some) Australian restaurants. Many restaurants spend thousands on decoration and providing wonderful surroundings in which to eat, they employ top chefs producing beautiful food but then they let the whole process down by investing nothing in training their wait staff.

Eating out in Australia is generally quite a costly exercise and I do not, and never have had, a problem paying for a good dining experience.

Good table service should enhance the overall dining experience. It should be polite, informative, efficient and discreet.

I do not want to be greeted with “Hey Guys” in a familiar fashion.

I do not want to be dodging plates and wine bottles coming at me from all directions.

I do not want my wine glass filling to the brim.

I do not want my plate to be cleared immediately on finishing if everyone else is still eating.

I want to be greeted with a polite “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening” – I am out at a restaurant and would like to be treated a little bit special.

I want my plates to be delivered and cleared from the right and also my wine glass filled and cleared from the right.

I want just the perfect amount of wine pouring into my glass.

I want everyone’s plates to be cleared when everyone has finished their meal (and from the right, of course!).

I know this may all sound a bit picky and demanding but really, it is pretty basic stuff!

At the Savoy Hotel in London, a new waitperson has to shadow and be trained by an experienced staff member for a week before being let loose on customers. They then have to do a full service to a manager and only then are they allowed to serve customers and still under the experienced eye of another staff member. Why do they do this? Because they want to give their clients the best dining experience possible on all levels. Isn’t that the aim of every restaurant, surely?

In Continental Europe waiting tables is considered a profession and those who undertake it do so with pride. Unfortunately, here the view seems to be taken all too often that just anybody can be a waitperson. Indeed they probably can – with the right training!

This outpouring has been prompted by a recent visit to a much vaunted restaurant in Perth for a celebratory dinner with friends. Our waitress was travelling around Australia – a lovely girl who was very friendly and polite – however she did not have the best command of english and it was difficult to understand the menu specials she was describing. When our drinks and appetiser orders were both taken incorrectly, another staff member was sent over to take our main orders. The original girl continued to serve us but our wine glasses were overfilled and our water glasses filled so often to the point of intrusion. Food and cutlery were delivered from all different directions.

I do not have a problem with this young lady but with the people who employed her and who expect their customers to be service guinea pigs whilst still paying top dollar.

So, can we have some (good) service please!

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