Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 34 - Wine, Salad, Seafood Pasta and Dessert

Remember those free gift cards we received  for donating blood that I mentioned on day 1 for $40 at any Darden restaurants?  We attempted to use them Monday night, but called ahead to make sure we weren't heading for a long wait and ultimately a disaster when we planned a Valentine's dinner in Daytona during Race Week (Daytona 500)  Bad news.  Glad we called.  So we waited another day and made a pit stop on the way.

We had a coupon to the local chocolate factory that said if we purchased a heart of chocolate, we would get six chocolate covered strawberries for free.  We had called before leaving to make sure they had enough of the seasonal strawberries and that the Valentines day customers had not wiped out the 3600 they had made for the holiday.  The owner assured me he would have them but informed us he was out of the hearts so that meant it would be cheaper for me to buy a pound of homemade chocolates.  Well twist my arm! So we swung by Angel and Phelps Chocolate Store [a must stop for anyone visiting Daytona Beach], bought six of the dozen or so remaining strawberries and then headed to Olive Garden.  It had been years since I had been to the all-you-can-eat-soup-and-salad Italian Restaurant, not to mention the fact that you get dinner too!

Chicken Gnocci
With all the hassles that usually occur on my trips to restaurants, I was shocked to have the most pleasant waiter I have had in years!  His name was Richard, but we could call him Frenchie.  He provided a complimentary taste of white wine that was out of this world.

We have a tradition of asking our servers what is their favorite item on the menu.  Sometimes we go with their recommendation and sometimes we don't.  We told him what we were in the mood for and he recommended the Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli and Shrimp with Potato Cream Soup for my boyfriend and Capellini di Mare (Shrimp, clams and mussels sautéed in white wine, garlic and a zesty marinara sauce. Served over capellini and topped with fresh basil.) with Chicken Gnocci Soup for me.  An appetizer of Caprese Flatbread and all you can eat garlic bread sticks rounded off the meal.  It was out of this world.

Capellini di Mare
After the soup, he returned to an empty bowl and said, "I see you thought it was terrible."  I said going along with the joke, "Yes it was."  Frenchie asked, "Do you want a second bowl of this terrible soup?"  This was so refreshing to see somebody enjoying his job or at least making us feel like he enjoyed what he did.  He continued to create an evening of laughter and entertainment throughout the entire meal.  This was so rare in my numerous outings at restaurants, I asked the Manager upon leaving what was the best way to make sure that Frenchie was rewarded  for his above-and-beyond service.  She gave me a card with the corporate website suggested sending an e-mail to the corporate office.  By sending an  e-mail to the corporate office, the executives would see it and pass it down the chain until it got back to her, the manager.

To finish the evening, upon leaving the restaurant, a shabby male teenager entered the restaurant wearing a t-shirt and jeans. He took one look at us, did an about face, and went back to the entrance door to open it for us to walk through.  WOW, now that young man was taught some very good manners!  I don't know why he did it and I pray to God that it wasn't because we looked old but just because we looked olderThere is a difference.

So often I'm quick to fire off e-mails of insufficient or inferior service, it seemed like the right thing to do. It also was a good feeling to be able to do something that may bring this young man some financial reward.  He deserves it, for not only doing his job but for creating RAVING FANS in the process.  It refreshed and renewed my faith in young adults.  Although there wasn't room for the chocolate covered strawberries we bought from the chocolate factory in our stomachs after this superb dinner, we didn't need  to eat them. The courtesy of two young men this evening was our dessert without calories!

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”~Henry Ford quotes

Footnote:  The lady actually put 8 strawberries  in the box! More dessert!

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