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Good Instincts

One of the most impressive traits I have encountered in front-end staff in a large handful of high-end restaurants is a good memory for faces. I know it helps that I have the hair, but it's still true. The second time (a year later) that I was back at Anthony's, the man-at-the-door recognized me. By the third or fourth time I'd been to Splendido (spaced out over a minimum of six month intervals), one of the waiters recognized me from across the room by my voice alone. They all had some time to think about it, however, and possibly cross-reference with reservations.

No so today's encounter. My first trip to Simpsons in Edgbaston, a year ago, was technically a break between trains, four hours of idle, sumptuous eating on a long, sunlit afternoon when I was in no rush, and Birmingham was en route. I was by myself, they weren't too busy, and I had a number of nice, long chats with the staff.

Fast forward to today. I'm at Gordon Ramsay's Taste of Christmas at the Excel Center with 8000 other people on that day alone. The 8 restaurant stands in the middle of the venue have long queues, but they're moving with reasonable speed, time enough to hand over the show currency and retrieve a pretty little dish in exchange. I make it to the front of the Simpsons stall queue and ask for my slow roasted pork with savoy cabbage, pumpkin purée, mint and caper juice. The woman looks and me and said with a smile. "You've been to the restaurant in Edgbaston. You had a lot of luggage with you."

And that - even in the middle of a dense crowd of 8000 people - is one way to make a customer feel very special indeed.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
That's pretty impressive, though in my mind would be the nagging concern that I had forever become known as "The Bag Lady".
Dec. 7th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Point. But one suitcase and one backpack? I was only away for a long weekend at the time. I suspect they don't often have customers arriving with baggage who aren't spending the night in one of their small number of rooms.
Dec. 7th, 2008 11:49 am (UTC)
I'm very impressed! I can understand recognizing you, but remembering the luggage? How much did you have?
Last Friday night, when we went back to Renzino's trattoria by the train station in Vernio, and were discussing what to order, Renzino, the owner, told Daniela, "last time the signora had the tortelli with meat sauce." I think about three weeks had passed since we ate there before.
I said to our group at the time, Renzino must have a photographic memory. This kind of personalized service is certainly endearing.
Dec. 7th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
One suitcase, one backpack. I was only going away for a long weekend.

Lovely story about the trattoria!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )