What Makes a Good Restaurant?

October 25th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants, Uncategorized No Comment yet

I’m in Florida. I’m not familiar with Florida. In Miami I know where I would go and eat but I’m not in Miami, I’m in Naples. I threw myself on the mercy of the concierge at my hotel. “I’m a foodie,” I confessed.  “Tell me where to go.” She sent me to “the best” seafood restaurant. It seemed promising. The location was great, the ambiance was nice and the service was attentive. The chef sent out an amuse bouche. It was a perfectly cooked scallop with pork belly. Yum, I thought. But then everything went down hill.

The waiter was too attentive. I could feel his beady eyes staring at me while I read the menu  – which was composed of a  very long list of seafood, salumi, cheese, pasta, steak, chicken, and cupcakes. Alarm bells went off in my bed because usually when a restaurant is trying to do too much they can’t do anything very well. The gimmick at this restaurant (second set of alarm bells went off as a good restaurant doesn’t need a gimmick) was that the waiter brought us whole fish on a tray to show us how fresh they were, and how they looked. I don’t care. Just tell me what is fresh. Furthermore I don’t need to watch a waiter parade dead fish all over the restaurant. How many times are those fish handled in one night and are they actually served? Makes you wonder.

My girl friend ordered the stone crab claws and truffle fries. I went with a Caesar salad and polenta with parmesan, truffle and shrimp. She won – the stone crab claws are sweet and succulent, the fries crispy and perfect. Let’s just say my choices were not well executed.

The dessert menu consisted of cupcakes, chocolate and ice cream – not a well composed list of choices, I thought. Alarm bells went off again. Surprisingly the chocolates were amazing. The milk chocolate with Tahitian caramel truffle was “close your eyes good”. The cupcake was average and we didn’t bother with any ice cream.

So what makes a good restaurant? Seemingly at first this place had everything right. I think a good restaurant, even while they may make mistakes, has service that is attentive not intrusive, a space that is warm and inviting, a chef that tastes each dish as it leaves the kitchen, a menu that is well thought out and executed and a staff that wants each guest to have a good experience.

I don’t think I am asking for too much, do you?

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