BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT - 2000
Service in the Twin Cities has gone to hell in a handbasket these last couple of years, the tight job market and, dare we say, restaurateurs' unwillingness or inability to seriously ratchet up pay seemingly leaving service positions filled by only the surly, the suspicious, the arrogant, the diffident, and those preoccupied by an imminent nervous breakdown. Except at Zelo (and sister eatery Ciao Bella), where the staff comprises some of the nicest people we've ever been around--and not just nice, but professional, attentive, and available. Don't even think of underestimating that last quality: We've endured plenty of meals where the waitstaff seemed so remote, we might as well have been eating in the park. But at Zelo your server is there to serve you, and so are the server's assistants--an attentive, water-dispensing, plate-clearing crew that creates the space for waiters to go the extra mile. If you have a question about a wine, you'll be regaled with anecdotes about the bottles. If you wonder about some aspect of a dish, the server doesn't make up an answer, but retreats to the kitchen to produce informed responses. If you ask for a doggy bag, they'll label and date it for you. If you like the cherry-wood bar, your server will find the phone number of the architect. In fact, were there any justice in the world, other restaurants' staffs would be marched down Nicollet Mall and compelled to attend Zelo-led boot camps. Or would that just make them more surly?