Give thanks where it’s due

SpicytamarindlobsterRestaurant meals often bring surprises with them. Unfortunately, it’s usually a bad surprise that blemishes your mealtime; however, every once in a while you get a fantastically wonderful surprise when you dine out. We had that experience recently at a little restaurant in our neighbourhood called Sweet Basil.

To be honest, we went there by default since it was a Monday and our first choice Asian restaurant, Mi Ne Sushi, was closed. We’ve been to Sweet Basil dozens of times and while it’s usually good, it has never been phenomenal until our last visit when we ordered the special Spicy Tamarind Atlantic Lobster pictured above.

It was absolutely fantastic and, get this, only $32 for the same amount of lobster that would be sold for $50 (or more) at any Toronto steakhouse.

When’s the last time you had a wonderful restaurant food experience? Did you send your compliments back to the cooks in the back? If not, why not?

6 Responses to Give thanks where it’s due

  1. What a wonderful experience. I love when this kind of thing happens.

    I’m sad to say I haven’t been blown away at a restaurant in ages. When I do have one of these “wow” meals, I tell the server how much I enjoyed it. But saying “My compliments to the chef” sounds like pretentious dialogue from a bad movie. How do you send your praise to the kitchen? I’d love to know.

    • danamccauley says:

      When I still worked in a restaurant kitchen we never thought it was snobby for people to send us their compliments. We loved it!

      I usually just tell the server to please make sure the kitchen staff know how much I enjoyed my meal. I usually try to mention something specific that I appreciated, too so that they know people notice the little touches.

      When Sharon Stone ate at Pangaea she took it a step further and sent a tray of lemondrops (a yummy shooter) back to the kitchen to toast the cooks. But, I don’t have her budget so a verbal is all they get!

  2. Diva says:

    I’m happy to say I’ve been on a real roll with restaurants lately and have had so many really good meals/surprises. I always send my compliments back to the kitchen – though I never actually say “my compliments to the chef” either. It sounds too generic. I generally ask the server to please tell the kitchen how much I enjoyed a particular dish.

    Most recently I was blown away by some extraordinary fish tacos I had in a local Mexican place. The tacos were a special that evening and after offering my praise, I asked the server to mention to the chef that I’d love to see them on the regular menu. I haven’t been back yet, but I’m hoping they did just that!

    Love the Sharon Stone lemondrop story, Dana. What a nice touch!

  3. Sarah says:

    The one that still stands out far and away for me was a couple years ago at the Black Dog Pub in Scarborough – we went for Mother’s Day, and I was very anxious about eating out because I have so many allergies it’s almost impossible to find a “safe” option that’s suitable for everyone in my family. I do, of course, take control of the situation as far ahead as I can, and I e-mailed the restaurant about viable menu modifications, figuring that at the very least an undressed salad could do me.

    Not only did the chef that was cooking the day of the event personally call me to reassure me of the safety in the kitchen, he also worked with me to create a whole meal just for me so that I wouldn’t be eating a bowl of plain lettuce! It was plated just as beautifully, and he gave me the “Mothers Discount” as well since the components of the plate were unsauced and fairly inexpensive. The waitstaff, even though the restaurant was packed with families celebrating, knew exacly who I was and what I needed, and handled everything seamlessly and without any “special treatment”, which I appreciated – it was my Mom’s day and not mine, after all!

    I was saddened to learn that the owners of the Pub had since sold it, but apparently the staff is for the most part identical. I wasn’t able to thank Chef in person, but I did write a thank you letter the next day.

  4. I’ve never thought to compliment the chef but if I love a meal I blog about it and tell everyone I know!

    If my lunch on Friday is compliment worthy I’ll tweet the chef and tell his wife what a lucky woman she is, not that she doesn’t already know. I’m looking forward to this a lot but trying to keep in mind that Summerlicious might change things a little.

    (And to readers who wonder what the heck I’m talking abuot, I’m eating at Dana’s husband’s restaurant on Friday.)

  5. danamccauley says:

    Sarah, that’s so great that you wrote a thank you note for the chef giving you special attention. I bet you made his day!

    Andrea, have fun! I hope you enjoy your meal. BTW, in case anyone wondered, that’s Martin’s hand in the picture above. : )

    Diva, next time I come to NYC, I want to get the name of that Mexican place from you!

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