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The 2015 Service Excellence Award winner: The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek blew the judges away with professional, attentive and engaging service, earning them their second continuous Service Excellence Award at the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.

Perlemoen, waterblommetjie and sour figs by executive chef Margo Janse.

Perlemoen, waterblommetjie and sour figs by executive chef Margo Janse.

It’s not hard to come up with a list of benchmarks for stellar restaurant service: a warm welcome, personal attention, an accommodating attitude and in-depth knowledge of food and wine, to name a few. The judges were looking for all these qualities when deciding on the recipient of this year’s Service Excellence Award.

But they were also looking for something more, something special. An extra bit of sparkle. And find it they did, for the second year in a row, at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek (no. 3 in our Top 10 – see all the winners here).

This year, the judges were delighted to encounter diners at The Tasting Room bursting into spontaneous laughter during the evening. The reason? It’s all down to the warmth, the conviviality and the culinary storytelling performed here. Not only are staff members attentive and extremely well informed about the menu; they go out of their way to regale patrons with interesting, humorous stories about the history and thinking behind the dishes. And seeing as executive chef Margot Janse is known for her love of unique SA flavours and ingredients, there’s a lot to tell.

It’s clear there’s a focus on employing the right people. “Personalities are extremely important to us,” explains manager Morné Wessels. “We refer to our team as storytellers, not waiters. And we want to treat our guests as if this were our house, our living room. Diners shouldn’t feel intimidated when eating out.”

Pictured, from left to right: Theo Kofi, Morné Wessels, Busi Nkonyana, Charlynne Ravell-Sampson, Ebeneze Hoffman, Vivian Baleni, Thando Rwexu, Eleanor Kerwin, Harry Rawana, Joost Gijsbers, Valene Leon, Pauline Bloemberg. Not pictured: Abre Morris and Bradley Isaacs.

Pictured, from left to right: Theo Kofi, Morné Wessels, Busi Nkonyana, Charlynne Ravell-Sampson, Ebeneze Hoffman, Vivian Baleni, Thando Rwexu, Eleanor Kerwin, Harry Rawana, Joost Gijsbers, Valene Leon, Pauline Bloemberg. Not pictured: Abre Morris and Bradley Isaacs.

There’s no doubt that they’ve succeeded in this ambition.

Says judge Jackie Cameron: “What a breath of fresh air. All the guests were laughing and chatting, having a fabulous time. There’s no pompousness, just great food and remarkable service.” Chief judge Abigail Donnelly agrees wholeheartedly: “The Tasting Room epitomises the best in service: it’s personal, local, professional and knowledgeable, with a touch of realness. All in all, simply outstanding!”

On stage at the awards ceremony executive chef Margot Janse quipped that she felt like a proud mother.  “Eleanor and Morne have done such an exceptional job and I am so proud,” she said afterwards. Culinary manager Eleanor Kerwan mimicked her sentiments. “I am so, so proud of my team,” she said. “This is incredibly special to receive recognition for all our hard work.” Restaurant manager Morne Wessels was also keen to acknowledge the team: “It is amazing working with such great mentors and leaders like Margot and Eleanor. I could not do any of this without my team,” he said.

Read the full list of 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards winners here: .http://www.eatout.co.za/article/winners-2015-eat-mercedes-benz-restaurant-awards-2/.

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