Find a back issue

My Five Cents: Presenting the Check With Dessert

Servers who work in a fine dining restaurant have a hard job. Their task is especially difficult if they choose to perform their duties with poise. A seasoned server assesses each table of customers and controls the pace of the meal accordingly. There is not a one-size-fits-all formula for service. Some customers want detailed food and wine suggestions; others know what they want and are anxious to move on to another event. A server has to be flexible.

Twice this week the dessert I ordered was delivered with the check. Both actions occurred in high-priced restaurants. Each dining experience started out with exceptional treatment. I was so impressed by one server’s polished and professional neutrality I planned to write a piece on the art of exceptional service. There were no awkward interruptions during the meal; we were only approached when our conversation lagged.

Then the dessert was delivered with the check (almost $300 for 2). Bam. The whole experience changed for us. After being seduced for two hours and lulled into a state of bliss, we felt rejected. The cheese cart we’d been eyeing was no longer an option.

Last night: same dance, different restaurant. After the server said, “take your time” several times in a span of fifteen minutes, the meal ended on his/her time. The check ($75 per person) and dessert arrived simultaneously.

I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to forgive the kitchen for a bowl of tepid soup or overcooked steak if I feel I’ have been treated with respect.