Servers. Waiters. So ubiquitous that it seems silly to “define” what a server is, but here we go.
A server is a lot of things, a factotum with an incredible memory, an entertainer, a clairvoyant, an efficiency expert, a marathon walker, a dextrous tray carrier.
But more than anything, a server is a diplomat. She arrives at your table with menus and wine lists- the restaurant’s first offer. Your party tells her what sort of experience you are looking for at this table tonight. She creates a plan to make that happen seamlessly and negotiates with the chef or bartender on your behalf (if necessary). She bears rudeness with grace, and navigates wayward toddlers as she picks the smoothest paths between kitchen, bar, service station, and your table.
Servers are responsible for extensive knowledge of the menu components so they can advise which dishes will accommodate dietary restrictions or allergies. They must know how long dishes take to cook and arrange the orders into courses that make logistical sense. Servers must know how to perform basic wine service and how to carry trays of beverages. They must be able to lift everything from porcelain and glass vessels as delicate as flower petals to magnums of wine. They must anticipate your needs before you do.
Polishing is one of the most common sidework tasks in a restaurant. Every glass and piece of silverware must be buffed free of water spots before it goes into the dining room. Polishing can be a tricky business, but it is worth doing and home, and worth doing well.
First and foremost, it is easiest to get a good polish on silver and glassware if you buff them when they are freshly washed, mostly dry, and STILL WARM from the washing water.
Secondly, the best cloth for polishing is one that will not leave lint on the glasses. Micro fiber is good here, but I prefer an old fashioned cotton or linen flour sack. Your polishing cloth should also be large enough that you can cover both of your hands and the item you are polishing can move freely within it. If your cloth is puny, that is ok, just grab a second one. The important thing is that your pesky fingertips are covered, and that the polishee can move freely between your clothed hands.
Now, we begin.
Swath your hands with the polishing cloth (or cloths), and hold the item in your non-dominant hand– i.e. if you are right handed, hold the item in your left hand. Create a “lobster claw” around the item to be polished by placing it between your thumb and four fingers. Buff in firm circular strokes until spots are removed.
If some spots are stubborn, you can soften them by holding the spotted bit over a glass of steaming hot water and allowing the steam to cloud the glass or silver for a moment. Polish that section quickly; the spots should lift easily.
When polishing the bowl of stemmed glasses, be careful to hold the glass near the base of the bowl, NOT the foot of the stem. That is a surefire way to break the stem off a glass.
If you get in the habit of polishing your glasses and silver as soon they are washed, you’ll always have a sparkling glass for your sparkling wine 😉
A server greets your table, advises of any specials, and menu items that are not available this evening. They will typically take a drink order first, then try to take the order for first and second courses at the same time, to keep your service smooth and prevent unnecessary intrusions into your conversation. The server should be able to answer questions you have about the menu.