Men appreciate great service at restaurants. Not to say women don't, but I can only speak from a man's perspective as I'm not nearly talented enough a writer to do both. Despite my literary shortcomings, I believe I understand my people well enough to help illustrate what defines "great service" to us men.
See, most guys aren't concerned with decor. That's why you'll find it's mostly men in those dilapidated, greasy spoon breakfast joints. Peeling vinyl flooring and flickering fluorescent lights just doesn't bother us all that much. At least, not enough to deter us from our breakfast from the guy behind the counter who remembers how we take our coffee. It's not that it's difficult to remember a coffee order, it's that they make the small effort to do so in the first place. Those little touches of service go a long way with both women and men alike.
When it comes to fine dining, unfortunately for the chef, the menu isn't the most important thing. Fortunately for the chef, however, is that even if the menu isn't all that great, the rest of the house has the ability to make everything spectacular. Any restaurant with a celebrity chef at the helm like Tom Colicchio - head judge of the TV show Top Chef, creator of the Craft brand of restaurants and head chef at Craftsteak Las Vegas - you know the food can't be anything but toe-curling good. It's a foregone conclusion that you're going to have one of the best meals in your life.
More than the menu, what's really important in fine dining restaurants is the service. Good service is making you feel like you deserve to be there, even though you probably don't. Great service is making you feel how my dad must've felt when guys used to come by the house to win him over & date my sister. The food can be the best in the world but if the staff make you feel unwelcome then it's like a roommate coming home too early and not seeing the sock on the doorknob. With the opportunity for greatness wasted, you're left bitterly unsatisfied. An amazing dining experience requires the quality of service to be directly proportional to the price of the meal. Higher the price, higher the quality of service. That's what we're paying for.
If you appreciate great service, do yourself a favour and visit Craftsteak Las Vegas. Like all great restaurants, Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has incredible food. Unbelievably delicious and memorable food. I'm almost at a loss for words about how perfectly prepared my steak was, or how the Yukon Gold potato puree was the best side to complete my traditional "meat & potatoes" meal.
One aspect of the meal I really liked was that I didn't actually order anything myself. Kevin, our fountain-of-knowledge server, told us all about the menu, some special items of interest and his personal recommendations that sounded like what your answer might be to the question, "what would your death row last meal be?" Along the way he gauged our level of interest in each item and let that dictate his direction through the menu. After telling us about the menu, he didn't stand at the table with a notepad, waiting for us to tell him what we'd like. Instead, he asked us one simple question: "how do you like your steak?" When I replied, "black & blue" he took the menu out of my hands and, as if we were longtime friends, assuredly told me, "don't worry about a thing. I've got you."
What came next was an expertly delivered onslaught of some of the best food in Las Vegas. Prime Angus filet mignon, served in a cast iron dish, so surprisingly good that I actually made one of those stupid cooking infomercial faces after the first bite. The simple and familiar vegetables like asparagus, mushrooms and potatoes that complemented the main course were also prepared so well that it was almost confusing how good they each were. I was beginning to realize why former president Bill Clinton was there the night before and why celebrities frequently rent out the private rooms.
I was also beginning to wonder if it could possibly get any better, and that's when sommelier Mario De Ovando stopped by with his friends The Macallan, Highland Park and last, but definitely not least, Laphroaig. I don't know much, if anything, about fine single malt Scotch whisky, but if you want to talk to somebody who does, then you talk to Mario. He carefully picked each flight to go with our meals and, like everybody else at Craftsteak, he's a true pro.
While The Macallan (12 years old) and Highland Park (15 years old) were both full of flavour and exceptionally good, they were both a little... pedestrian. And then there's the 15 year old Laphroaig. Just like how Aerosmith are the poor-man's Rolling Stones, Laphroaig is a whisky drinker's Scotch that makes everything else feel like it's got training wheels on. The peaty smell, the smokey flavour and the lingering finish all make Laphroaig a full-on experience in and of itself. I highly recommend ordering some Laphroaig with dessert - preferably the cinnamon brioche monkey bread with pecan toffee sauce and banana brown sugar.
Fine Scotch expertly paired with such incredible food at produced flavours that reminded me of the brilliant line from a recent Rickard's beer commercial: "Take the best day of your life, and put it in your mouth."
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Travis Snelling is the cofounder of TripAtlas.com and is based in Toronto, Canada. When not stuck in the office wearing shoes he's out on adventures with his camera looking for new drinks, dishes and experiences.
Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: photography, history, culture, cuisine, adventure