Mr. Al is a truly exceptional restaurateur, a gentleman who always ensures, and demands, that the people who come into his restaurant are not treated as customers, but as guests. Mr. Al taught me so very much about the restaurant business, and I owe him a debt of gratitude. He showed me the importance of warmth and honesty, but more than anything he instilled in me the value of humility. But not for the graciousness of our guests, we would all be out of a job. Al taught me to see the small things ("restaurant eyes") but to never lose sight of the big things: make every guest feel special (because each is), never compromise core principles, never forget that this business is about service and kindness. He embodies the motto of "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen," and has far before the Ritz ever claimed it as theirs. Dallas' dining community would not be what it is without Al, not just because of his restaurant, but because of his consistent excellence. Every great waiter I know in this town can tell me something s/he learned from Al, and every great restaurant in Dallas has had to become better to keep up with him. A true gentleman and consummate host for sure, but more so, a man to whose quality of character we should all aspire. Thanks Al! I'll expo for you any day!
Best Wait Staff - 2010
The real test of a restaurant's wait staff isn't how it handles a noisy group of birthday partiers or a pompous wine connoisseur: It's Restaurant Week. Discount-driven diners and massive guest counts make Restaurant Week a nightmare for even the most disciplined restaurants, and wait staffs usually make sure customers know it. Not so at the always-elegant Al Biernat's, the storied steakhouse where servers this year performed with professionalism most eateries can't match on an average night. Our server was knowledgeable and unobtrusive, and bothered with the littlest touches, such as discreetly rattling the rocks in an emptied martini rather than barking "You done with that?" As it happens, we were done with that drink. We're not quite finished getting spoiled at Al Biernat's.