Taking a break from the relentless recital of bad customer service, I thought I’d highlight some spots where I’ve had positive experiences.
Although there’s a serious problem with customer service in too many Irish restaurants, I’ve no doubt that I was very unfortunate to have five bad service experiences, across six locations, in eight days. The stress of it made me question whether I want to eat out ever again, so I’m hoping the list below – and your suggestions – restore my faith.
In compiling this list, it became clear that good service heavily outweighs the bad. Indeed, we’ve only written about a handful of bad customer service experiences since we started this blog over two and a half years ago.
I struggled to whittle down my choices for best customer service in Ireland. Eventually, I decided only to include places with stand-out service, or where they’d gone out of their way to be particularly friendly or helpful, but I’ve added a few honourable mentions. Please note that this list is about customer service rather than food, although feedback is welcome on either aspect.
Tomorrow, I’ll write about how some hideously poor customer service was resolved.
Where have you had very good customer service?
Ireland’s best customer service
This list is in no particular order.
- Gourmet Burger Kitchen: I’ve been here many times, because as well as the food being delicious, it’s always friendly, pleasant and helpful. They went out of their way to help my sister when she needed to change her baby. When Dylan, aged 15 months at the time, made a mess, the waitress refused to let us clean it up with the very kind words: “It’s a restaurant, he’s very welcome here, and it’s no problem at all for us to clean it up.” We left a 25 per cent tip.
- TGI Friday’s: Not to everyone’s taste, and I’ve only ever eaten here at other people’s insistence. Nonetheless, it’s a fairly decent family-friendly venue with consistent food. The overpriced food pays for all the crazy crap on the walls, but you can’t fault the service. In an American branch, when I was 13 years old, our food was delayed for 40 minutes; the manager consistently apologised (despite the fact my parents never complained) and the entire meal, for a family of six, was complimentary.
- Gotham Cafe, South Anne Street and Stillorgan, south Dublin: Reliable service, (almost always) enjoyable food at good prices, and management that clearly know what they’re at. When Jean wrote a middling to poor review of Gotham a few years back, we were very impressed with the management’s response, apologising and offering to bring her back for a meal at their expense.
- Yo! Thai, Mount Merrion, Dublin 18: Possibly the strangest service in Ireland, but arguably the best. Attentive, fun, and genuinely warm. Wine and water always topped up, no need to ask, and yet you never get the sense of lurking waiters. At a stag party dinner, the maitre’d asked the names of about 12 men, remembered them all, and treated us as honoured guests. If it’s your birthday, the entire staff – often including the kitchen staff – will come and sing “Happy birthday” to you. Twenty minutes later, the festive atmosphere showed no signs of abating; by now, they had guitars and were singing Abba’s “Dancing Queen”. A regular occurrence here, where service is an integral part of the dining experience, and it works – although a small number of people may hate it. Brilliant.
- Most fancy restaurants: The Strawberry Tree, One Pico, Peploes, Shanahan’s, Thornton’s, Chapter One, The Saddle Room.. Unsurprisingly, expensive restaurants have excellent service standards, or they couldn’t possibly justify their prices. Still, politeness costs nothing, and cheaper spots should take a leaf from their book.
Sober Lane, Cork: Some of the best pub grub I’ve ever had in Ireland. Generous portions of freshly cooked, delicious pizzas, wings, home-made crisps, and chips. Great value, good deals, happy and enthusiastic staff, and a manager who always checks that everything is up to scratch. A pleasure.
- The Hop House: One of Jean’s favourite spots for Cheapeats in Dublin, serving Korean and Japanese food with great value beer in a very pleasant atmosphere. Accommodating staff generously allowed Jean’s group to order off the lunchtime menu, normally available until 5pm, at 6pm.
- Hilan, Capel Street, Dublin 1: I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve eaten here. Always busy, and always full of Koreans, which is always a good sign. A buzzy, lively interior matched by flawless service.
Lennox Cafe Bistro, Portobello: Relaxed and genuinely friendly service. It’s the kind of place where the staff speak to you like you’re a person, and you respond in kind. This is the type of interaction that’s sadly lacking in customer-waiter relationships; too often these encounters are either aloof, condescending, or overbearing.
- Cafe Formenti, Carlow: A great little neighbourhood restaurant that depends on repeat custom. Happy patrons, a welcoming vibe, and really lovely staff.
- Green’s, The Leopardstown Inn: I wouldn’t be that bothered with the food, but I’ve eaten here at many family occasions over the years, and it’s the type of neighbourhood restaurant that employs local people who know their customers and always ensure a very pleasant dining experience.
- KonKan (Harold’s Cross) and Indian Curry Club (South William Street): By and large, the service in Indian restaurants is reliably excellent. KonKan is very accommodating, and the Indian Curry Club clearly value and welcome your custom.
Any branch of Milano, Fallon and Byrne (Exchequer St., Dublin), Cafe Mimo (House of Fraser at Dundrum Shopping Centre), Pablo Picante’s (Baggot St., Dublin), Bistro Spice (Monkstown, Dublin), Tribeca (Ranelagh), Cafe Paradiso (Lancaster Quay, Cork), Campo di Fiore (Bray, Co. Wicklow), Dillinger’s (Ranelagh)
And the worst:
Quinns Tearooms, Laois
Nancy Murphys, Enniskerry