Best Restaurant Service - 2009
The Grill on the Alley
With its mahogany floors, dark leather banquettes, horseshoe bar, and brass green-shade lamps, the Grill on the Alley seems as though it's been here cooking chops and stirring martinis since the days of film noir. Executive chef Arnold Dion's menu of traditional American grill items likewise satisfies a yen for yesteryear. When it comes to cuisine and design, one can debate whether modern or classic sensibilities are preferable; when it comes to service, the greeting from an amiable and mature maitre d' beats a chipper host saying "Howdy, y'all" every time. After being escorted to their seats, guests at the Grill are greeted with menus, wine lists, water, rustic sourdough bread, and a dish of marinated peppers and onions — one after the other in rhythmically efficient manner. Specials are recited, specialties noted, and a manager stops by the table to check on things. Cocktails are blended by a professional mixologist, and a wine steward is on hand to aid in selecting from the extensive list of labels. All told, service is so elegantly old-fashioned that you might find yourself surprised that the Grill isn't in black-and-white.