Thank heaven for waitstaff

My ladyfriend and I enjoyed a near-perfect dinner at Tribella Grill in Batavia last night, an evening that went well in no small part thanks to the attention of a man who will live on in my heart as the best waiter I’ve ever had (apologies to my brother the waiter, but dude, take some lessons from this guy). When we entered the Tribella–a lovely, though not particularly cozy restaurant piping in constant Sinatra–the first thing that hit me was the strong smell of perfectly cooked garlic.

I’m a garlic nut, people, and when that smell hit my nose I was already hunting the menu for garlic bread. And, tragically, seeing none. There was some promising bruschetta and a garlic/spinach/shrimp dip, but all I really wanted was simple, perfect garlic bread.

Our waiter, after patiently recommending each garlic dish in turn and watching me reject them (saying pleadingly each time, “don’t you have any garlic bread?”) finally apologized and went to get our drinks. He returned without my vodka tonic in hand, something would have ticked me off if he hadn’t instead been carrying the dish you see above.

“I got you some minced garlic,” he said, putting it down between us. “Some customers take that and some vinegar, mix it with the oil–why don’t you give it a shot.”

I did as recommended, adding in a little salt and pepper, and took a bite. Then proceeded to wolf down most of the breadbasket, effectively getting a perfect appetizer completely free. Once I’d finished–and downed about half my drink–he returned, placing a glass quarter-filled with golden beer.

“What’s this?”

“The summer ale you asked about.” I’d already forgotten, but I’d briefly expressed curiosity about a drink on the menu. He’d made sure to offer a taste as soon as my drink looked low. He also reminded the bartender there’d been complaints about the tonic (it was a little flat, but I was too happy to care), checked on us with a perfect balance of concern and pacing (didn’t seem too anxious, didn’t seem detached) , and never looked to be fishing for a tip. The man simply wanted to serve us as best as possible.

After finishing off a delicious lemon sorbet (served in a martini glass atop fresh strawberries), the lady and I retired, but not before leaving our friend one hell of a tip (okay, okay, 25%–that’s a lot for me!). So thanks, waiter guy; I can’t remember if your name was David or Andrew, but you made my night.

Incidentally, the food itself was amazing, too, although the ladyfriend’s vegetarian ravioli was better than my beef and rigatoni (and that’s just not fair).

Have any outstanding waiter stories? Leave ‘em in the comments!

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