Monday, July 21, 2008

Best service in Charlotte?

My parents were in town this weekend, so it put a bit of a damper on my party life. Their idea of partying is a nice meal and home by 9 p.m. I could live with that for one weekend. (Love you, Mom and Dad!)

I had a few notable experiences with the service we encountered, some excellent, some bad.

First, the bad. My parents stayed at the Westin uptown. Their room was nice, they had a beautiful view of the skyline and the hotel lobby smells like bouquets of spring flowers. But when we got a drink at the lobby bar before dinner Friday, I couldn't help but notice the stained couches, the crumbs of assorted nuts on the tables and chairs, and the fact that the bartender didn't know how to make a proper white wine spritzer for Mama Aarthun -- instead, he just guessed.

Note to Westin: You're about to have a lot more competition uptown -- a Ritz-Carlton is opening, the aloft at the EpiCentre is under construction, and the Blake Hotel is undergoing a major revamping. Get your act together if you want to stay in the game.

Now the good. We had dinner at Bonterra in Dilworth on Friday. It might be in my top five restaurants in Charlotte now, and that's thanks to -- in large part -- the excellent service we had from our server James. He was attentive without hovering, knowledgeable without being snooty and, most important, he laughed at my dad's jokes. The food (fried lobster tail, rack of lamb, duck breast and salmon) and wine were delicious, and it was a lovely, leisurely meal.

We had another great experience at a completely different kind of restaurant on Saturday -- Vinnie's on South Boulevard. Waitress Pamela served up our shrimp cocktail and Beach Bum blonde ale with a smile and made us feel as though we had been regulars at the bar for years.

It all got me thinking about how hard good service can be to find sometimes in Charlotte.

I've found Blue Restaurant to be consistent. Copper is another favorite of mine. Luce is also excellent. But I have a hard time adding beyond that.

What do you guys think about service in Charlotte? What are some of your favorite restaurants?

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

My casual favorite is Macs, however, the service is hit or miss.

Vinnies is also hit or miss but my one problem with them is sometimes finding additional purchases on my tab that no one I was with received.

I just ate at Luce for the first time and the food was great and the service was good also.

Anonymous said...

Mickey and Mooch up in Huntersville always has great service- never been disappointed, the servers are always pleasant and fun and the food is always consistent.

Anonymous said...

I had outstanding service at M5 last week from Vincent, an attentive server with a fun, French accent.

Thomas Street Tavern is notorious for their miserable service. A shame, really, because they have good food.

Anonymous said...

Mac's and Thomas Street both have horrible service, but I think they like it that way because neither has ever made an effort to change that. Ed's Tavern also has notoriously bad service. At least with TS and Ed's you can expect it because they're primarily bars.

Global and Ratcliffe have excellent service. Actually most of the 'nicer' restaurants uptown have pretty good service.

Clayj said...

Eric, one of the bartenders at Rooster's, is one of the best servers around. Not only is he a nice guy, but he also remembers my regular order every time I dine there, so I don't even have to order anymore; I just sit down and he knows what my order will be. The service at Rooster's is great.

Blake Cahill said...

I completely agree with the above comments concerning the decidedly subpar service at Thomas Street & Macs.

At Thomas Street, service and keeping customers happy is clearly not the main focus. The incredibly slow bartenders and all-too-casual servers seem to be more concerned with talking to each other and the other 5 people at the bar who seem to be there every single night of the week.

The reason they don't change it, I guess is that they think it's become some Soup Nazi-esque part of their charm as though gruff personnel or long wait times at the bar gives a place character. It doesn't. I just makes me want to go there less.

Anonymous said...

I've always been beyond impressed with the serive I get at the Wendy's on Eastway. They get my order right almost all of the time, and when they don't it's usually a minor offense like they added lettuce when I didn't want it. Now, the morons manning the grill at Wendy's way out Providence can't do anything right. Often times when I order a Jr. Bacon Cheesburger with mustard and ketchup, I get either everything but mustard and ketchup, or just a piece of meat with mustard and ketchup and a bun. No bacon or cheese! I mean, if that's what I wanted, wouldn't I order a hamburger?!?!?

Anonymous said...

I always have incredible service at Fiamma's, Ilios Noche, Las Ramblas and Mickey and Mooch (Arboretum) these restaurants are consistent and I always get great food and service!

Anonymous said...

I second Ilios Noche and have always had wonderful service at the Red Rocks at Birkdale.

Anonymous said...

Big Ben's on Providence and Village Tavern on Barclay Downs have my vote for worst service in Charlotte. Zada Janes isn't too far behind. It's a shame, because all of the above have decent food, and great restaurant spaces. The only place off the top of my head that is has consistently good service is Cajun Queen on 7th, and Creation on The Plaza.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Street service is unforgivably bad and check your tab because they have no problem tacking an extra beer on.

Alexander Michael's has great service, they have great everything. It's one of the best places in the city to take a visitor.

Anonymous said...

The hostes at Nolen is a jerk. I don't know if it was the Restaurant Week crowd bringing her down, or what, but she needed a serious attitude adjustment. I will not go back to that restaurant ever again as a result.

Tracy said...

I have to say that Steamer's Restaurant & Pub has the absolute best service in Charlotte, especially for that type of establishment. You are always attended to...the wait staff and bartenders remember your name and drink. They make sure to accomodate as best they can in every way. I've been going there for 20 years and as time goes on, the service just gets better. Not to mention the rating is always 100 or higher.

Kirk said...

Fiamma tends to have the best service around where you don't feel like you are paying for it. Just nice people.

Jeffrey and the guys that moved to Del Frisco's from Sullivan's have always been a class act and extremly helpful. Granted, you expect that at a Del Frisco's type establishment, but its surprising how infrequently you get it.

And on the cheaper end, gotta give props to the gang at Moe's on East. My wife loves those guys.

Anonymous said...

I guess Creation's service was so good that they decided to go out of business.

Anonymous said...

You were right on target with the Westin comments. Since they opened 5 years ago all of the good employees are gone! Now they hire any one even without experience.

Erin said...

Lulu's on Central in Plaza Midwood has exceptional food AND service. I have never been disappointed.

Vinnie said...

My wife and I, along with some friends, frequent Dilworth Grille. We always seem to have great service. They don't always know the menu, but they seem to go the extra mile. At least they always look and act like they are having fun where they work

Tomas said...

My vote for best service is --- well there are quite a few I like. Hard to choose.

Zada Janes has some of the worst service, but its no suprise because they're owned by at least one owner of Thomas St. (so I've heard). They don't seem to hire servers, just young ineffective hipsters who have no idea what they're doing, bless their tattooed hearts. Thankfully the food stinks too so there isn't much of a reason to go. Did I mention how slow it is?

Anonymous said...

YES! Thomas Street Tavern WILL overcharge you.

I went to the cheesecake factory yesterday for lunch and after not seeing a waiter for 15 min i finally had to flag one down for them to send someone to our table! Horrible!

Dick Stockton said...

I've drank at every bar in Uptown, P-Mid, Elizabeth, Chanitlly, etc, and to a lesser extent Dilworth at least three times in the last year, most over 10. I've also eaten at dozens and dozens of restaurants in similar areas and that around Park Road shopping center. Yes, I'm an alcoholic. And yes, the worst service, hands down, in all of Charlotte, is CORNER PUB @ 7th and Graham St. The owner is a weasel who literally tries to overcharge me EVERY time. It's become a game between us.

Dick Stockton said...

And I agree the service at Mac's is worse than putrescent.

Anonymous said...

Del Friscos wasnt bad ; I have heard great things aout Ruth Chris and Mortons ; In my state of Columbus, Ohio we have the Japanese Steak house that is standing room only; The food is to die for. I used to love Mickey and Mooch in Huntersville but chefs keep rotating; This sure isnt Washington D.C,. when it comes to food let me tell you.

tomas said...

www.gobacktoohio.com

If you mean we're not Washington D.C. as in we're not mediocre food for exhorbitant prices in dangerous neighborhoods, you're correct. At least our mediocre food is priced within mediocrity.

AND before you say it, of course we don't have the "ethnic" variety. But do we need it? If we do, it will come with time. There is a reason we don't have many Tongan restaurants here. You can't confuse the laws of demand with lack of cultural diversity or whatever superlative you desire.

Anonymous said...

Jackelope Jack's = WORST SERVICE IN CHARLOTTE

Every time, without fail... unless you sit at the bar.

Anonymous said...

When is Creation going out of business?

Eric said...

Toscana, Lulu, and Il Posto. Best food and service in the city!!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you on Bonterra. I have been served by a number of different people, and the service is consistently excellent. The only place I think is comparable would be Capital Grill. It is very formal but still very welcoming.

Anonymous said...

For Bars- Connollys has the best service/bartenders around.

For resturants- Sullivans Steak House not only has the best food in the business but the best srvice to go along with it.

Ed's Tavern service has the worst in town hands down and there food is ok. As soon as the newness wears off there will be another bar in that location...again!

Chris said...

Brixx Uptown always has great service, both at the bar and at the tables.

Anonymous said...

Zebra - SouthPark. Some of the best and most interesting food in town. The staff is excellent. Service is first class. Try the tasting menu.

sarah said...

Can a girl find both hot waiters and good service in the same spot?

Anonymous said...

Check out lulu in midwood. Zen Fusion in Dilworth. Beyond that, I fully agree, Luce is fantastic and familial. Coming from Chicago, and having been surrounded by the hospitality since I can remember, Charlotte is very poor on their approach, sense of urgency and consistency (above all) with regards to many programs down here.