Contrary to our initial perceptions, Canada (well at least the Vancouver-Banff-Jasper stretch) generally offered a decent dining experience. While the variety and pedigree of their cuisine can't quite match that of Singapore, I do enjoy the experience of dining out in Canada.
First, almost every place offered a vegetarian, vegan, or healthier dining option. This was great for a semi-veggie like me trying to eat more healthily, ethically and sustainably. Many of the restaurants or cafes were also quite flexible and willing to make changes to their menu to suit your taste.
Enjoying a veggie sandwich and a vegan burger at a pub-diner in Jasper
The next thing which impressed me was the professionalism and efficiency of the waiters and waitresses serving us. Many of the outlets - even small family-run establishments - have wait staff who could read one's body language fairly well. One doesn't have to really ask them to refill one's glass of water, or endure being harassed to eat one's meal quickly so that they can clear the dishes.
It's also pretty cool that after you pay the bill, you can leave whatever you feel is right (tips included) in the bill folder, and none of the wait staff will so much as glance at the bill folder while bidding you a fond farewell. I like the idea of F&B operators trusting their patrons and adopting an honour system here.
Hawker-like 'pasar malam' food stalls are attractive with innovative food offerings (Summer Night Market @ Richmond)
What's also nice is the generally laid back and hospitable service with a smile that we received almost everywhere - even street side stalls like the one above. This occurs even when there is a long queue or if the outlet is busy with customers. If a waiter is busy, the message you get from his body language is more like "hang on for a bit, I'll be with you shortly" rather than "can't you see that I'm busy right now?"
One particular episode that I recall happened at Banff's popular Wild Flour Cafe. Despite having to serve multiple guests, a waitress was kind enough to show us where some of the good walks suitable for my family and I were, including marking it out on a map for us. When we returned the next morning for breakfast - its organic, home-made sandwiches were good too - she remembered and asked us how it went. Now that's service!
Wild Flour Artisan Bakery and Cafe provided many reasons to revisit
As I've said in the beginning, Canada isn't quite like Singapore in terms of being a foodie's paradise when it comes to variety. However, I must say that most of the Canadian outlets easily beat most of our F&B outlets here hands down in terms of service, hospitality, and flexibility. And that's something that makes all the difference in the dining experience.
Time to dig in!
Labels: beverage, British Columbia, Canada, customer experience, customer service, Dining, eating, food, service quality, Vancouver