Rosa was my waitress last Thursday when I visited M restaurant in Threadneedle st London. She grew up in Bilbao a stones throw from San Sebastián in northern Spain. If you have ever had the opportunity to stay there you will know that you will always get great food, wine and hospitality, It is part of their DNA. It’s therefore no surprise that Rosa optimises what excellent service is all about.
M restaurant in Threadneedle Street, serves some if the best steaks and wine in the city. High ceilings, big and bustling it was was packed with office Christmas party lunches, deals being made over a bottle or two of very good wine and anyone who loves steak. Being the silly season, it has been packed every day and night for the last month, with even more demanding customers than usual. I am sure the team are shattered, anyone could forgive them if all they wanted to do is get through the shift and go home. Yet despite this the service we received was some of the best I have experienced for a long time…. why?
From the moment we walked in we were made to feel as though we were the only guests. We had a drink at the bar first and within minutes of arriving the bar manager appeared saying please don’t feel you have to sit at the bar, sit anywhere and make yourselves comfortable.
Good old fashioned hospitality but not stuffy.
The barman said he would make me any cocktail even if it was not on the list just tell him my favourite…. this contrasted sharply with the last two occasions I have tried to order a cocktail recently once in the Athenaeum a few weeks ago and once locally. It seems there is a scarcity of chocolate martinis, I keep being told I cannot order one as it’s not on the menu but have an espresso martini instead. Just for the record, espresso Martinis are not a suitable substitute! I really don’t want to be pacing the floor at 3am having had caffeine overload!
Once seated Rosa appeared, smiling, knowledgable and attentive but not pushy. Like all her teammates, whether it be the busboy from Sardinia or the supervisor from Milan nothing was too much trouble.
The service was so relaxed yet on point that my husband asked if I knew the owner and were we being VIP’d. I don’t know him, though hope to meet him one day and the service was simply how they do it.
When it had calmed down a bit I got chatting to Rosa, a degree graduate in tourism she could have her pick of managerial positions but has chosen to be a waitress. She explained that being a manager would mean she would have less interaction with the guests and people are what the job is all about. She loves meeting new customers and ensuring they have the best time. That might sound trite but it is her passion, I could tell by the way she interacted with every table around us.
On the next table when they wanted to split two steaks between four, the steaks are huge btw, she made sure they were cut and served as though they were four mini steaks. When we left half of ours as were so full she insisted on us having a doggy bag explaining, with the steak being rib eye the marbling will keep it moist and it will make a great steak sandwich later. She was right my husband had it the next day for lunch! On the table behind us she talked through the extensive wine list, making recommendations and chatting with the guests who eventually settled on a few hundred pound bottle of wine. Though at no point did she hard sell, when we ordered our modest £55 bottle she praised our choice and said it was one of her favourites.
If any of you have ever worked in a restaurant in the city, it’s tough, some of the guests are not always the most pleasant, especially some of the ‘city boys’ with a pocket full of cash and the arrogance to match. It was unsurprising therefore when I told Rosa how impressed I was she got a little emotional and explained it had been a really long hard week and so was probably not at her best. She never showed it, all we saw was a cheerful committed team member who was on it.
To be honest the impression I got was that the whole culture of the restaurant was one of teamwork and guest focus. When I thanked the chef at the pass for the excellent meal he turned to his team and gave them a round of applause as I walked away, that’s rare!
They say in order to deliver service excellence you should give the person in front of you their five minutes of fame, Rosa you gave me and all the tables surrounding us our 2 hours of fame, so it is only fitting that I give you yours.
Thank you for making my mjinspire Christmas lunch amazing, I cannot wait to come back.