It’s been a week since Prairie Lights Restaurant — Red River College’s fine-dining training facility — opened it’s doors for dinner service. During the first third of our run, from March 1st through March 16th, I have the pleasure of working in the front of the house, as a server.
It’s been a fascinating experience thus far, and afforded me an entirely new perspective on the restaurant industry.
I have long held servers in high esteem, and consider their efforts invaluable to any restaurant’s operation. Still, until now, I’d never “walked a mile in their shoes.” What have I learned? More than anything else, it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Indeed, inasmuch as it’s about the details in the kitchen, it’s about the details in the dining room; the small things, done right, that make the difference.The precise placement of flatware, tableware and glassware; the way in which the napkin is folded and set; the artful serving and subsequent removal (from the left, then the right) of food items; the unobtrusive manner in which beverages are served, refilled and, finally, removed (always from the right, and from the stem). Little things, executed effortlessly.
Am I an expert? Hardly! I do, however, appreciate the aim, and am making every effort to reach it.
Of course, being a fine dining restaurant, there are some not-so-small things that must be done well, too.
Whilst rarely seen on most restaurant’s menus nowadays, we offer both a flambéed entrée (Prosciutto, Peach and Thyme-Stuffed Pork Chop Flambéed with Calvados) and dessert item (Crêpe Suzette Flambé), as well as an assortment of specialty coffees (Monte Cristo, Blueberry Tea, to name a few) prepared and flamed table-side.
As such, I’ve also had the chance to play with fire. Literally. It’s been a hoot, though not for the faint of heart — or bushy eye-browed.
While it may be too late for you to witness my table-side flambé skills and sample some of what my culinary peers have been preparing from our first menu, you still have the chance to secure a table and sample Menu 2 or Menu 3 before we close our doors at the end of April. Simply visit Prairie Lights’ website to make a reservation… and have a lovely evening.