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2019 - Dining out these days

May 24, 2019 - Norman Bentley

Last week the Chardonnay Queen and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, and decided to have dinner at a really upscale restaurant to mark the occasion. We chose a highly rated Italian restaurant for our big event, which was rated number one or two in the area, by Trip Adviser and several other rating services. Now I have been enjoying fine dining establishments for many decades, and this occasion reminded me of the changes in the fine dining arena over the last ten or fifteen years.

Americans tip at about double the rate from what was normal in the seventies and eighties, and yet the service seems to have deteriorated at almost the same pace as the increase in gratuity. In the eighties I managed a fine wine shop in an upscale part of town, and employed, part-time, two young men who worked as wait staff at the finest fish emporium in town. These two worked hard at their job at the seafood restaurant and were always trying to increase their knowledge of food, wine, and especially service. I was reminded the other night of how much times have changed.

The food we had for our anniversary was excellent, but the service was abysmal. It was as though no time had been spent training the staff, from the maitre'd, to the server, to the wine server. This is a restaurant where a couple can easily expect to run a tab of two hundred dollars or more. The following is what I posted on Trip Adviser.

Review: Trip Adviser "The food was very good although not a typical Italian menu. Neither the waiter nor the person who took drink orders, or the management person we spoke with had any knowledge of their wine list, even though the list was quite extensive and contained dozens of bottles at $100 to $300. The (Cocktail Waitress?) asked me to spell the name of the wine I ordered and stated there was no wine steward, and that she had been on the job for less than two weeks. The management person also had no knowledge of the wine list.

We had to ask the waiter to refill our water glasses, and he only filled the wine glasses once. We were not even offered coffee or after dinner drinks. Even though the food was quite good, I would probably not go back because of the poorly trained and un-coordinated staff. By the way, it was our anniversary."

The wine we enjoyed was excellent. We had the 2016 Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Chardonnay with our Antipas'ta, and the 2015 Ruffino Modus Tuscan with our beef dishes. Both wines would be easily scored in the nineties. I would like to see a return to the "Good Old Days" where Fine Dining means Service as well as Food! I have noticed this lack of training and expertise by wait staff numerous times in the last few years.

wine score: 92-94

food score: 92

service score: 65


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Also available at AOL's Dunwoody Patch:

Dunwoody, GA Patch

WINE – God’s Proof of his Love for Humanity


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