Fine Dining

Having lived in big metropolitan cities for most of my adult life, I have had the opportunities to experience many different types of cuisines at all price points. While I wouldn’t consider myself a foodie (only because my chef friends might disagree otherwise), I do appreciate a well-curated dining experience. Food brings people together in every culture. It is true that you don’t need fancy food to have a wonderful time with your friends or family. For most people though, if financially-abled, would usually splurge for special occasions — I’m no exception.

Last week, I took my husband to a Californian restaurant to celebrate our 12th year dating anniversary. We’ve been in Palo Alto for a few months now and there are certainly no shortage of fine dinings in the area due to all the VCs around (I guess). The restaurant we went last week was however, one of the best fine dining experiences I’ve had in awhile. In fact, our wonderful experience didn’t start with the food, it started prior to us even stepping into the restaurant!

It is an extremely common practice for fine dining restaurants to hold your booking with a card on file and only allow cancellation within 24 or 48 hours prior to your reservation. In fact, some might ask for a hefty deposit, and some won’t even allow you to change or cancel upon booking. All these rules reasonable if you consider the complexity of staffing, prepping, and all things that go into running a successful business.

Before we dined at the restaurant, I actually had to cancel our original reservation due to a medical emergency. My cancellation was done literally 1 hour prior to our reservation but the host did not only cancel the reservation for me but also waived all charges. Additionally, the host asked me not to worry about rescheduling but just focusing on taking care of whatever it is and reassured me that the restaurant will be there whenever I’m ready to book again! I’ve had to cancel or reschedule many bookings in the past and usually the answer I get would be they’d only waive the charge if they manage to sell my table to someone else. Sot this is rare and refreshing! For that reason, I booked the restaurant again the following week. I had to come see how things are done in this place.

Upon stepping our foot in the door, all the staff from greeting to seating, were extremely charismatic. Everyone seemed genuine and their attention to detail was impeccable. At check-in, we were immediately greeted with congratulation to our anniversary. The moment we sat down, two complimentary sparking wines were served right away. Throughout the course, we were given the attention by the staff whenever we needed. They were there but also not there if you know what I mean. We had enough privacy but still got what we needed whenever we needed. The food was delicious but the vibe was the most memorable.

A day or two after our wonderful dining experience, I received a generic survey asking for my feedback. I clicked on the rating and just left a small comment, considering I don’t think anyone actually reads them. A day after my review was submitted, the assistant general manager wrote to me and thanked me for choosing them to celebrate our special day. He even shared with me his personal booking link, so that he’d know when I’m back again and take extra care for returned customers.

You might think that all fine dining equals exceptional service. It is not entirely true. This Californian restaurant is not a cheap eat but it only really cost a fraction of what other much finer places I’ve been to. There are a handful of much finer places with much poorer quality of service. I don’t know what their secret sauce is but I do know that “people will not remember what you said/did, but people will remember how you made them feel” — and I felt great! My takeaway here is that… all touchpoints matter. They shape your experiences, from start to finish, and beyond the actual experience you’ve signed up for!

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