It was suppose to be a pre-birthday dinner for my mom at our local Chinese restaurant, Golden House Seafood. A little get together for a nice low key night with family and friends. Even though Golden House is a small restaurant of about 8-10 tables, they serve dishes that are considered on the quality high end side (ie you’re not going to find Chop Suey and Fortune Cookies here). As much as we like the owners and the food, this uncharacteristically bad night turned out to be almost a Shakespearean disaster in service. We’re regulars at this restaurant so if I’m saying it was bad…it was truly bad.
We ordered 6 dishes to share and it took almost 2 hours to serve 5 of the 6; it took so long that we just cancelled the last dish. For any restaurant to take 2 hours, especially a Chinese restaurant, to turn out 5 platters is ridiculous. Every time we asked for anything, we would have to repeat ourselves and to different waitresses. How many times did we ask? Let me count the ways – to cancel the last dish took 2 waitresses and 3 requests and to ask for the bill from the same waitresses took 4 tries. I had to actually walk up to the counter with my wallet in hand and pay at the cash register.
I did feel bad for them that they only had 2 chefs in the back instead of the usual 3. But the waitresses spinned around the room inefficiently and frenetically….and let me repeat that this was a restaurant of 8-10 tables ONLY. This made me think, no wait…. reminisce, of the ‘Super Waiter’ who worked at this location.
This particular spot at the corner of 49th and Fraser has had a few turnovers of Chinese restaurants. I don’t remember what it was called previous to Golden House but it served dim sum and similar quality cuisine. But I will always remember this one waiter that took care of EVERYTHING all by himself and he did it well. He was so efficient it felt like there was a waiter per table: he greeted, served tea, took orders, remembered your order, filled the teapots, cleaned the tables, set the tables, got you that extra chopstick/spoon/napkin/hot sauce, brought the food, served the food, handed you the bill, got you your change and had a smile while doing it all. I have a few friends who’ve gone to the restaurant and can vouch for this mysterious super server.
Because of him, my standard for excellent efficient service is pretty high. If one humble hard-working smart waiter can manage 1 small restaurant all by himself, I’m expecting above par service if a place has a size of a small army as its wait staff (I’m looking at you Guu Gastown). I don’t know where he’s gone to but a full ‘kowtow’ to his hospitality amazingness.
It is truly mind-boggling to have experienced one of the best and one of the worst services at the same location but different restaurant. Well at the end of the unfortunate dinner, the owner did give us a discount off of our meal; that little compensation didn’t ease our frustration nor hunger…instead it made us decide to not go back for awhile and made me wonder where Mr. Superwaiter has gone off to.