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What does it take to get really great service in restaurants?

The first rule is, don’t be a complete schmuck…In the opening chapter of Wine Girl, the hugely entertaining memoir by Victoria James, once America’s youngest sommelier, the author describes a blood-boiling encounter with the kind of customer for whom involuntary euthanasia should be devised. It is a Monday lunch at the glossy Aureole in New York and the host of a testicle-heavy table of four has ordered a $650 bottle of a serious white burgundy (a 2009 Chevalier-Montrachet from Domaine Ramonet).Having checked at her serving station that the wine isn’t tainted, James returns to the table and pours a small measure for the customer to taste. He declares it corked. “I think she has too much perfume in her nose, this girl…” he says, as if competing for a gold in the misogyny Olympics. There are only two bottles of the wine in the restaurant’s cellar. James does not want to waste a big-bucks bottle when she knows it is perfectly fine. Instead, she presents the unopened second bottle, takes it away, then returns and gets him to taste the original bottle again. And between racist epithets, he declares it perfect, with a fat top note of triumph in his voice. Witness: small penis energy.Good service is about being present, noticing what’s happening and anticipating what’s needed Continue reading…