I was seated at a upscale Italian restaurant. They had a fairly extensive wine list which looked like fun. Within a few minutes the server, whom from this point forward I will call SPEEDY, stops buy and says the sommelier will be over to talk wine, gives us specials and asks about water. As SPEEDY leaves the sommelier comes by, we talk wine, and I order a bottle of Bellavista. This took maybe 4 or 5 minutes as we discussed several options. With in seconds of the sommelier leaving SPEEDY is back asking for an order. I let him know we have not even opened the menus so give us some time to get our wine. The sommelier was very efficient and the bubbly arrived quickly and was service efficiently. As the sommelier leaves, I turn to toast my wife and the waiter is back. SPEEDY barges in looking for an order or to at least get some appetizers started. He offer no suggestions an was rather demanding for order. A little annoyed I pick a couple of apps quickly figuring it would slow him down and remove him for a while. I barely finished a quarter of a glass of bubbly when the apps are dropped by the food runner. It was under 10 minutes. I thought it was a mistake; it must have been someone else’s food. Within seconds of the food being dropped, SPEEDY appears again and asks for an order. He is very intrusive and not helpful, and doesn’t have a clue that I am very annoyed with him. We hadn’t been at the table 15 minutes and we had a bottle of wine and two apps down. I make a polite but poignant remark that at this pace we will be done with dinner in less than 30 minutes. It did not resonate with SPEEDY, who interrupted several more times for an order before my pleasantness wore off and finally just said, “SLOW DOWN AND STOP INTERRUPTING! We are not in a hurry. Please fill our water glasses and I will find you when we are ready to order.” Although this finally slowed him down it did not make things better. His knowledge of the food menu was weak which I could let pass, until he began to make up information about a dishes and ingredients he obviously knew nothing about.
With such poor education done on wine service, I have seen many bizarre ways of opening a bottle of wine. This latest opening was priceless. I wish I had a camera! Here I am at dinner with three female sales representatives at a fairly casual restaurant. The food is always good but the service is average at best. I order a bottle of wine and male server returns to the head of the four top with the wine. The fronts of his thighs are pressed against the edge of the table and his back is arched slight back away from the table. He has the base of the bottle resting on his belt buckle of his low ridding saggy pants with the top of the bottle erected at 45 degree angle out toward the center of the table. (Yes, erected is the correct term to use here) His left hand firmly grips the neck of the bottle while he uses his right hand with knife to slowly pick an peel the capsule off which is dropping to the table. This male server is completely oblivious to the females sniggering and sexual innuendos being bandied about at the table. He was a young server, nervous and really concentrating on the bottle. With the bottle still erected at a 45 degree angle he begins to insert the cork screw into the cork. He twists it in, gyrates his hips slightly, and with a grunt yanks the cork out. This gives way to a loud pop and wine spurting out of the bottle on to the table. Red faced and embarrassed from his accident, the ladies all want to make him feel better. They compliment him on his performance and tell him that tends to happen with young and inexperienced males, but with practice he could be a pro… although I am not entirely sure what profession they were referring.
On my last trip to Las Vegas, my wife V and I got a last minute impulse to go to Picasso at the Bellagio. With no reservations and the time approaching 7pm, we accepted the fact that we would probably just sit at the bar. We approach the hostess who immediately asked if we had reservations. I sheepishly say, “No, but was hoping they could squeeze us in and that we would be happy to dine at the bar.” She goes through the normal routine of looking over tables and resos and comes back to escort us to a table on the interior of the restaurant. It is obvious why this table was available but V and I didn’t care we were just happy to get in and I quickly ordered a couple glasses of champagne. Desi, the sommelier, stops by to welcome us to restaurant. With his opening dialog he discovered it was our 9th anniversary, we had never dinned there before, and we would love to have after dinner drinks on the patio and watch the water show. Desi quickly sizes up the situation and comes back a few minutes later and asks if we would like to spend the entire evening dinning on the patio. The next thing I know we are toasting champagne while 100 foot skyscraping towers of water explode just a few hundred feet a way. As if this was not enough, Desi and Jose, the waiter, came back to let us know that the Chef Serrano would be happy to prepare a special dinner to commemorate our anniversary. Faced with another tough decision we quickly hand our menus over to let Chef Serrano, Desi, and Jose orchestrate the entire meal. Jose was superb. He quickly anticipated our every need and was invisible. Many times silver, plates and glassware was exchanged without notice. His conversation was light, to the point and welcoming. He took pride in his ability to service and tend to our needs. Desi was as equally superb. He quickly sized up the style of wine I like to drink and went to work pulling some incredible and, in a few instances, very adventurous choices to go with each course. As I listened to Desi address the tables around us, his passion about the wines he chose was infectious. It did not matter weather the wine he presented was somewhat ordinary or eclectic; he represented the wine well and made people feel good about what they were going to drink. He is a Masters Candidate and with the skills I saw that night he will soon be a Master Sommelier himself. Both Desi and Jose epitomized great service. They constantly put the spotlight on the guest, the food and the wine, never on themselves. They took great pride and derived great satisfaction out of satisfying the needs of others. Over all the entire Picasso team adapted and created a dinning experience that won’t soon be forgotten. I almost forgot, the finishing touch… read more →