I have recently been put down rather fiercely by one or two chowhounds who have severely chided me for stating that, in a restaurant, service is a very important part of the overall dining experience. Although I rather strongly feel that poor service clearly can impact not only the overall enjoyment of a meal, but the actual quality of the food being served (think cold food, improperly executed orders due to poor listening and communication, improper garnishing, etc.). I have been told that I do not understand the "chowhound manifesto" which supposedly puts "deliciousness" in the "driver's seat", with service and ambiance somewhere far behind "hanging off the trailer"...my words, not those of my critic. It is interesting but, although I have had many supporters, the outspoken and very negative tone of the critics of my post, has really made me wonder if I belong. Of course I agree that there is no way that service can make up for poor food and that there is no substitute for great food, but even when the food is superb, poor treatment can seriously detract from the overall dining experience, at least in my opinion.
The rather stern criticism which I received followed my recommendation of a book written by NYC's preeminent restauranteur Danny Meyer ("Setting the Table"). Is my posting, a copy of which follows, so off the wall that I do not belong on this site? Some apparently think so!
"As I review the various postings regarding restaurants, it seems to me that service issues represent an extremely significant portion of restaurant-goers complaints. I have always thought that excellent and caring service, can make up for many problems which the restaurant kitchen may have.
I have always been extremely fond of Danny Meyer's restaurants in New York. Indeed, Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe are almost always considered to be among the top five most popular restaurants in New York. Although they both serve great food, it is the service that makes these (and other Danny Meyer restaurants) special. I have just finished reading "Setting the Table" written by this amazing restauranteur. This is really a terrific book, not only for those of us who are interested in restaurants, but indeed for anyone working in a service industry. Danny's bottom line is that when hiring staff, he always places people skills way ahead of technical skills. The former can never be taught, whereas the latter can! This is one outstanding book!"