Service – Lessons from Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

I was lucky enough to have lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud a few weeks back. €48 a pop for a three course lunch with the usual teas and coffees and Petits Fours included too. Speaking of which:

Patrick Guilbaud Petits fours

The food was stunning, as it would be from a two star Michelin restaurant. What really marks it out for me is the service. The service in restaurants that know they’re special is non-intrusive, warm and not at all pretentious. I’ve been to restaurants where the staff think they and their workplace are special and have a snotty attitude towards everyone. Normally this gives them validation to have sloppy service, serving up variations of chicken currys. They’re the “it” place for a blip in time and love the attention of the fickle public. Guilbaud’s, Chapter One, Thornton’s, Cliffhouse Hotel and other Michelin-like restaurants almost seem timeless inside their doors. They’ll keep doing what they do to an amazing standard no matter the weather or economic climate outside their doors.

All the staff in Guilbaud’s appear to be French and it seems obvious they are drilled as if they were in the military. With their black tux like uniforms you sometimes see the room flowing with black and white as they go about their work. Dishes are served with panache, on silver trays, covered with silver covers that are removed at the exact same time for everyone. Nice flair. No clapping allowed! Well, we didn’t. In between courses someone with a silver crumber in the shape of a razor fish comes along to wipe the crumbs off the table. If you leave the table, someone is over to reposition your chair and refold your napkin. Tempting to do a Homer Simpson “lights go on, lights go off” type situation with getting up every few minutes.

I think any business that works in the service industry (and I think anyone that works with the public is such a company) would learn a lot about providing good customer care from dining at this restaurant. Everything seems to flow easily but you know tradition, training and thought have gone into everything. Every detail has been considered and whether you think this makes everything artificial or not, it still makes you appreciative. I was reminded of the Steve Jobs biography and how obsessive he was about everything. Not that I have read it but every second paragraph from it appears to have been quoted online already.

So yes, food, here’s a surprise starter and the main course of veal. Surprise starter, starter, main course, desert, petitis fours and espresso came to €48 which for the food alone was worth it but the service we received will stay with me and inspire me to try and be that good with my own business. From communications, to product, to presentation of the product to (the hardest bit) making all of this seamless. Thanks Guildbaud’s.

Guilbaud Surprise starter

Guilbaud Veal

On that, the Restaurant Patrick Guildbaud has a book celebrating the first 30 years and it retails at €50. Profits will go to The Irish Hospice Foundation. Available at Avoca stores, Brown Thomas, Dubray Books, Fallon & Byrne, House of Frasier, The Irish Hospice Foundation and the restaurant itself at 21 Upper Merrion Street. The book is quite beautiful.

7 Responses to “Service – Lessons from Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud”

  1. Thanks Damien, we now all have a decent excuse to go enjoy lunch here and classify it as a training expense 😉

    It’s too true though, in any business I know, it’s the service that really matters. Too often the frontline staff don’t appreciate that, which is usually a management issue, but it makes ALL the difference.

    Now I need to eat something, ravenous looking at all that foodporn!

  2. Sarah says:

    I need to go here. Supposed to be doing chapter one for birthday though… Perhaps graduation dinner should be based here!

  3. Beautiful. We had a similar experience at Bentleys a couple of birthdays ago. In fact, a pair of old lushes beside us began to complain loudly to each other about how well the staff were treating us. As “blow ins” they felt we did not deserve it while they were “regulars”.
    The staff responded by lavishing even more attention on us, the couple who had saved all year to come there for the first time, in that professional, attentive but unobtrusive manner of the career waiter.

    I commend our Michelin starred chefs and their 5 star staff too. Xx

  4. markofu says:

    I’d a very similar experience at Guilbaud’s a couple of years ago. As you said, the food was amazing, as you’d expect, but the service was incredible and I’ve never experienced the military-like attention-to-detail elsewhere.

    The lunch deal is tremendous value!

    Nice summary Damien.

  5. manuel says:

    A lot of words to say waiters are awesome…heh

  6. Des Traynor says:

    Nice post Damien,

    I was there once for a €340 dinner for two, and it was worth every penny. It brought back memories of Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography at the time. Gordon describes how he realised there’s no compromise when you’re aiming for Michelin stars.

    He once let someone off for a mistake, saying it could happen to anyone. That same person later on sat 2 Michelin judges at a table that had a slightly stained tablecloth, costing him stars. He learned his lesson and has been unmerciful to the day. I wrote about that ages ago in a post called The Thickness of Napkins, also using Apple as an example.

  7. Andrew says:

    C’mere, I think it’s time you got yourself a fanciful camera for your food pornography. Your iPhone makes everything look like the photos over the counter of Supermacs.