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Bloggers recommend: Ireland’s best customer service

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Hilan, Capel Street

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.
  • Sobre Lane, Cork

    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

    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.

Cafe Mimo, Dundrum: Great customer service and excellent food

Honourable mentions:

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

14 Comments

  1. The Gourmet Tart Co. in Galway has great customer service. No wonder it’s #1 on Galway restaurants in the tripadvisor website.

  2. Good list and I agree with the Hop House one. Unrelated to the service topic, but I think Lennox Cafe is far too expensive for what it is. Especially when Green 19 around the corner is doing nicer food for much cheaper.

  3. I’d second the service in the Hop House. The staff are genuinely lovely, the sushi is just unreal (though quite expensive) and the attached bar is great fun with super cheap beer. They’ve introduced loyalty cards recently too so you’ll often get some free food with your beer.

  4. Emiliano’s on High Street in Waterford: the service is first class. Love going there, it really is the best place to eat in Waterford.

  5. Wall & Keogh in Portobello – such a lovely, lovely place. The staff are so helpful with the huge choice of teas. There is never any sense of being rushed. I love it! A brilliant place to spend a free hour.

  6. I’d nominate Il Fornaio in Raheny and IFSC. I go quite often to the Raheny branch but I’ve had equally good service in the IFSC. There is always a warm welcome, and they are great with children which is quite rare these days.
    Another winner is Kinara in Clontarf (and the food is amazing too)

  7. Was just in l’gueuleton for the first time the other night. aside from the food being delicious the staff were attentive and friendly. they had no problem allowing me to wait for my friend who was late and even offered me a daily paper and a magazine to read while i was. I will def be going back there.

  8. Delighted to see such a comprehensive list of positive customer service experiences. I completely second Dillinger’s, they are really lovely in there and it keeps me going back on an all too frequent basis, it’s a shame The Butcher Grill, their new venture, doesn’t cut the mustard in my opinion.

    Other places where I’ve had great customer service experiences include Blazing Salads, The Rustic Stone, The Millstone, Keshk Cafe, The Sussex and The Hole in The Wall. Can’t wait to try The Hop House and Hilan, also based on this(and your previous review), we’ll be heading to One Pico in a couple of weeks for a special night out, excited!

  9. Chakra by Jaipur in Greystones have fantastic customer service. They are so accommodating to everyone’s need and likes, especially to food allergies. They’re very attentive and all so very nice… and plus the food is AMAZING!

  10. I had a lovely experience downstairs in Fallon and Byrne the other early evening. Not a big night out but a group of us coming and going at different times. Couple of us had a cheese plate/bottle of wine. Separate bill no problem. Just pleasant and easy and we left with a couple of take-away bottles and a warm feeling.

  11. I agree with Hilan. I ate there recently & the waitress made sure to explain that the dish I ordered (beggars chicken) was spicy & comprised chicken on the bone-both of which i was delighted about-though I can see how they’ve probably gotten negative feedback from Irish palates about it. It was utterly delicious. I was dining on my own & found all the staff pleasant & they checked up every so often without being annoying. They were also unfazed by a girl dining alone which is good. My only gripe was that my glass of wine was a wee bit small and the waitress was slightly surprised when I ordered a second glass-so I felt like an alcho. They could be a bit more generous with it considering its a fiver a pop. Ill definitely be back though.

  12. I also give my vote to the quirky Wall and Keogh in Portobello. I was this Tea house/Cafe in Portobello last night, I got the Sushi and Tea Deal with my girlfriend and then we had wine(they do BYOB).. We found the Service exceptional!, they are friendly and helpfull but not over the top. The place is amazing and so comfy, we stayed for two hours and never felt rushed!. We then went across to Bernard Shaw pub.. very handy location :-)

  13. sober lane has a great atmostsphere and the food is great

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