birthday weekend dining experiences

Price does not always equate to a better experience. When should I receive better service?  When swimsuit clad with hair in ponytail and no makeup standing in line for a cup of coffee or when in a party of three beautiful women in a swanky steak house? Should it matter at all how much I plan to spend?

I realize this is the second series recently introduced in my blog, but there were too many great episodes throughout the birthday bash weekend for just one post. As a quick recap, I recently met up with two friends, Sherree Worrell and Denise Barlow for a birthday, spa-day, eat well and relax weekend at the Peppermill in Reno.

Because the Peppermill has fantastic dining choices as well as anything else we might need, there was really no reason to ever leave the hotel. We selected a different restaurant every night and still had loads to choose from that are yet to be discovered (something for next time).

time to eat

Living in Reno, I have become extremely spoiled by the quality of service found here. In order to stay competitive, hotel restaurants are beautifully decorated, well staffed and for the most part offer high value for the money spent. This does not mean the food is cheap, but you certainly get more than what you pay for in terms of ambiance and other amenities.

We began our celebration Friday at Oceano Seafood restaurant. Dinner was perfect. Service was perfect and so was the company as my dear friend and fellow mermaid Cate Vail joined us for Friday’s festivities.

From the moment we sat down, the waitstaff was attentive without being overbearing. Small details were not overlooked (i.e. water refilled on a regular basis, and plates cleared as soon as they were empty). Overall, this initial contact with Peppermill restaurants set us up for a remarkable weekend.

another great restaurant experience

The next evening, we encountered similar treatment at Chi, where we enjoyed modern Chinese cuisine. Our waitress suggested delicious entrees and surprised us (nice touch by the way) with three different ice cream flavors to share for dessert.

amazing yet simple dessert

Side note: Just so you know, our first two nights we did not make reservations for dinner. We were eating late enough that seating was not a problem and we did not know where we wanted to dine until we landed in front of the restaurant.

We figured that if one restaurant was unable to seat us, other options were available. By our second night, we had experienced the superior service of the spa and were ready to continue our pampering on a different level.

last but not least, time to dress for dinner

For our last night at the hotel before parting ways Monday morning, we decided to kick it up a notch and dress up for dinner. This was to be the piece de resistance and we expected to hold back nothing in the name of pampering and birthdays.

The Bimini Steakhouse was calling our names, so we set reservations. After relaxing all day by the pool, we were all in need of primping for the special occasion. We wore our finest dresses, heels, makeup, the works. Our hair was perfectly coiffed (you get the picture; we looked hot)

We sauntered into the steakhouse and were promptly seated (all good signs). Menus were handed out and Denise was secretly texting under the table, which is another story altogether.

what happened next…

It turns out that Denise wasn’t just being tech dependent by texting at the table. We all had our phones out regularly throughout the weekend so it didn’t seem completely out of place, but Denise did have a sense of urgency that was impossible to miss.

In a few minutes, the Maitre’d showed up tableside with a beautiful bottle of wine compliments of Dave Reynolds, who heard about our birthday bash getaway and wanted to delight and surprise us. Denise had been in cahoots with Dave all weekend waiting for the right moment to present us with this amazing gift.

We were almost in tears as the wine was poured into our glasses. Now all of our phones were out so that we could send pictures and tweet our thanks to our benefactor. Such a lovely unexpected surprise made our weekend complete.

what didn’t happen next…

with a full glass of wine for the three of us, we were ready to order, except there was no waiter to be found. Five minutes turned to 10 then 15 as we sipped on Cabernet and tapped our toes. We didn’t even have water yet.

Observing our surroundings, we noticed other parties receiving what looked like stellar service. What did they have that we lacked? All three of us had showered before leaving the room. We arrived with reservations, dressed beautifully, and had a spectacular bottle of wine delivered to our table.

Maybe this was a one-time oversight? The night was too wonderful to let some rude waitstaff ruin it for us. Eventually we ordered our food, got water to drink and ate our meal. When Sherree dropped her napkin, she asked the waiter for another, which he promptly forgot to bring.

We concurred the service was underwhelming at best, while it was the most expensive meal we encountered. Fortunately, dinner itself was incredible. However, it did not make up for the lack of hospitality shown by the staff. We had better service when we ordered Cobb salads poolside during the day than dinner that night.

it’s the people who make the party

I still attest that this was a weekend that should and probably will become legendary (if only for the three of us). Outside of the poor service received at the steakhouse, we were well-treated by the Peppermill and would readily return for another similar weekend.

It was the comradeship that made the party remarkable. Cate showing up with a cake and decorations on Friday helped set the tone. We lounged at the bar, spa and pool all while sharing stories and deepening our friendship.

Yep! Legends will be told for years to come about our escapades.

3 thoughts on “birthday weekend dining experiences

  1. eof737 says:

    Overall, it sounds like the party of three had a great time and I loved those ice cream bowls above. Did you ask the waiter why he was not fully available? 🙂


  2. miriamgomberg says:

    Nope. We didn’t feel that we should have to ask why we were receiving poor service at a fine dining establishment. However, Sherree did take home the customer experience survey and I’m sure she filled it out.


  3. eof737 says:

    Actually Miriam, I always ask to speak to the manager when I get poor service in a fine establishment. Sometimes, the waiter is dealing with some difficult, personal situation and they will gladly switch the person off and give you one that is more attentive; especially for a special occasion like a birthday. Businesses appreciate it because they want you to be happy and to come back. if I’m paying big bucks for a meal, I will and do speak up. Another point is that because I have experience waiting tables, I understand that we all have off days and that waiters make very little wages. Since I don’t believe in withholding a tip for bad service, I believe in correcting the problem asap so the tip is never in question. 🙂 just my two cents.


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