John, Redux

We returned to one of our favorite restaurants in Naples (or anywhere else), Cafe Lurcat. I’ve taken groups of people here, and my wife and I decided on a private dinner. We asked for John, the best server I’ve ever known. I’ve written about him here before.

John takes an interest in every person with whom he works, while handling a variety of tables. He’s never rushed, but somehow coordinates more activity than I care to think about. His advice on food is spot-on, and he turns any meal into an experience. He’s constantly helpful, never cloying, and creates an atmosphere of dining and not merely “eating.”

Just one example: The main street outside was closed for an event, so John ordered a taxi for us to meet at the rear door of the restaurant. He walked us downstairs, through the back, couldn’t find the cab, called the cab company twice on his cell, and retrieved the cab from the wrong back door! I was telling him to return to his tables, but he made sure were were on our way, and I bet nothing missed a beat upstairs.

The food at Lurcat is to die for. I had fried rice with shrimp and sausage and an egg on top, and my wife a BLT salad, followed by, of all things, a delectable meatloaf for her, and sea bass in miso for me. I never order sea bass any more because it’s become “comfort food,” but here it’s an experience. The general manager happened by and bought us coffee and dessert because:

When we appeared at the restaurant, no less than three people at reception couldn’t find the reservation made by the concierge at the Ritz-Cartlon. “I remember your name I think,” said one unhelpful woman, “but it’s not here now.” Said another, “Well, we can accommodate you (as though this were my fault), what table would you like?”

“I’d like your best table,” I said without hesitating, given her offer.

“Oh, they’re all gone,” she said, batting her mascara.

“Give me any table in John’s section,” I suggested.

Normally, you turn away from hostesses so clueless that they don’t realize they’re in the customer business, not the “covers” or “tables” or “turns” business. But I knew John would save the evening, and he did.

Lurcat’s food is outstanding, and do ask for John. But I suggest you make three different reservations, to get by the fog at the front door. Restaurant hostesses and hotel doormen are the first impressions of such establishments. They are key hires and need to be monitored closely.

PS: Coincidence—The church we attended for vigil mass before dinner was Saint John the Evangelist!

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.


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