BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT - 2007
La Belle Vie
The servers at La Belle Vie often seem as if they're executing a complex ballet: In two, three, four, place plate two, three, four, explain plate concisely and not obnoxiously two, three, four and out two, three, four. When you finish your tiny course of oh, say, slow-poached pheasant with French horn mushrooms and foie gras risotto, they come in again: Lift plate two, three, four; away, two, three, four. Swipe crumbs from tablecloth two, three, four; replace silver two, three, four, and away two, three, four! We don't even like dance, but we find this a graceful and downright soothing performance. You always know the servers here are going to take care of things as efficiently and gracefully as possible, whether the task at hand is helping you to select a glass of wine, or just being in-tune enough with the rhythm of your table that they don't needlessly interrupt your conversation. Great service is like dance, in that it requires great physical stamina while projecting ease. But in some ways it's more difficult than dance, because dancers never have to juggle a nut allergy at table 73 who doesn't want ice in her water with an engagement ring appearing with the desserts on table 74 and a breakup resulting in a need for whiskey and instantaneous check delivery at table 75. Worse, unlike dancers, servers get no applause when they pull it all off, because no one knows what they've pulled off but them! Well, we know, and we're clapping: Bravo! Brava!