When I started out, working at my grandparent’s restaurant at the age of twelve, I knew it was all about service. Speed, I quickly learned, also played an important part, as did efficiency, multi-tasking, product knowledge and stamina, but even more important was courtesy, compassion and a passion for your job. It is a combination of these (and other) components that provide great service.
So, I am always rather amazed that in a city such as Seattle, with as many good food eateries as there are, that there are so few servers actually providing good service (let alone great service). Having visited some great haunts in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, there is a different “professional” server that you don’t see often here, especially in a neighborhood establishment. Trust me, we had some bad experiences in those towns too (mostly at “the fancy” places; it is often the “real spots” that always shine through). Here, there are definitely some good servers, great ones even, and by no means am I saying that they are mostly poor at providing good service in Seattle, not true, but it is true that this city lacks the really professional service that leaves you feeling that you have been taken care of thoroughly, without judgement, and in a courteous, helpful and efficient manner, without a pause.
Tonight, as a follow up post to Ginger and Buddy’s spa day, I wanted to quickly show pictures of them sporting their de-clacked, coiffed and dapper selves. I will of course show you the pictures rather than state the obvious (you can see they are “looking good”).
As for the copy, I decided to write about service instead. Service is a field most of us are in (somehow, someway) yet the level of service we receive these days seems to have gone downhill (at least to me). I feel it is improving yet again, but old fashioned, old school service seems a way of the past as people try to do things cheaper, faster and with less effort.
Perhaps, that is why seeing the genuine thing makes me stop, pause and feel ferociously loyal. Victoria, for those who haven’t read this has been a part of our lives (Bufffy, Ginger, Buddy, Tom and I) for over 20 years. We drive over an hour (one way) out of our way, to bring our beloved dogs to her for grooming. We do this because we couldn’t imagine taking them somewhere else, to anyone else; service (and all this entails, no pun intended)!
Wednesday night, on the way home from “Looking Good“, we stopped at Bastille for a bite to eat.
This has become one of Tom and my favorite spots to eat when in “the hood”. The food has always been great (with the exception of our pork belly last August, but Wednesday night proved this as an anomaly). The service has always been pleasant and on-point; that night though, the service was exceptional (which is something that I don’t say lightly; I am a picky one, it’s true). We arrived just under the wire for Happy Hour and ordered our usual, two French 75’s followed quickly, very quickly, by two more, mussels + frites, the Bastille burger, new and improved pork belly accompanied by a carafe (yep, old school) of red wine (which BTW is always worthy of the meal and I am still a picky one, so take note).
Our server (Rachel), was without pause, hesitation or mis-timing on any of her moves, a true gem at every turn. Without getting too lengthy on the details, I would just like to say, thanks Rachel for doing your job well and with heart.
Also, a big shout out to you Victoria, from Loooking Good in Ballard, for all that you do, not just for Ginger and Buddy, but for all the little critters that you take into your shop and care for with courtesy and compassion… we know you are passionate about what you do, and for that we are thankful.
Clams & Mussels with Spanish influence (I know, not French)
As the months become warmer, the shellfish becomes more fragile. Dinner at Bastille, reminded us how delicious a bowl of mussels, filled with a delectable broth for sopping, can be as an easy weekday seafood fix (enhanced notably by the perfect frites). So, flavors completely different and a bit heartier than those from Bastille (plus the mix in of clams), I give you this dish that I threw together one night during the, not-so-distant winter (honey mussels were still in season). I will be making it again soon (with a different variety of mussel) before summer comes full on and our waters become warm.
3/4 lbs each, clams & mussels, rinsed (mussels de-bearded)
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4″ slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano chili, slightly charred, seed and stem removed, chopped
1/2 Anaheim chili, chopped
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tomatillo, diced
1 tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes, diced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 cup Prosecco
2 TB sour cream
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Garnish: warm tortillas, cilantro
In a large sauté pan, put the cut bacon into the pan and turn to medium heat. When cooked through and beginning to crisp, add the garlic and both chilies. After a minute or so, add the paprika, cumin, tomatillo and tomato. Toss the pan a bit then add in the clams and mussels.
Squeeze in the lime juice then pour in the prosecco. The pan will want to recuperate from these additions to regain it’s heat; once simmering, cover the pan and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the shells begin to open. The clams will cook more quickly than the mussels so as they open, remove them to a bowl with tongs. Remove the mussels as they open too.
Turn up the heat on the remaining sauce and add the green onions and sour cream. After a minute or two, the sauce will thicken slightly. Add the shellfish back into the sauce to heat through, then divide the mixture amongst individual bowls. Serve with warm tortillas and garnish with cilantro.