Yes, service is an art, not a science. But some statements are just flat-out ill-advised—and this year here were a few I heard.
“Is everything perfect?” The waiter at Vespolina may have been trying to suggest that perfection was this kitchen’s aim; a noble message, to be sure. But instead the question threw a spotlight on all the things about our meal that were considerably less-than. Perfect is a big word.
“Everything!” My chronic bete-noir is a waiter offering this as the answer to “What’s great tonight?” I couldn’t list all the places I hear it because I hear it more often than I don’t. If only restaurants knew that it instantly makes the waiter sound ill-informed and indiscriminant, more interested in meaningless promotion-speak than actual, well…service.
“I’m sorry this salad is wilted.” Wait…what? Note to the waiter at Liam’s who set a wizened salad before me: The meaningful apology would have been bringing out a fresh one.
“We will never have a burger on our menu.” Our otherwise terrific waiter was surely just mouthing what she heard management declare at Quality Athletics, the Pioneer Square sports bar which initially took perverse pride in rejecting typical sports bar fare, like burgers. Only here’s the problem with absolute statements: They’re absolute. (There was a burger on the menu less than a month later.)
“Uh, I don’t really know.” Followed by not finding out. Waiters don’t have to know the answer to every food preparation question, they just have to be willing to find out. Waiters at Pomerol and Loulay, among other places, failed on this one.
“I don’t want you to think I’m gouging you or anything.” This from a waiter at Vespolina, recommending a higher-priced wine than the one we'd inquired about. Wow…okay, wasn’t thinking that until you brought it up.