A WOW experience - a rare thing indeed...
A WOW experience – a rare thing indeed… This weekend I had the rare treat of escaping my ‘mummy’ duties to visit my best friend in Yorkshire. I took the direct train to Leeds (4 hours of bliss reading books, listening to music and doing absolutely nothing…). My WOW experience didn’t happen on the train (there’s a surprise) but that evening, we visited Akbars – a curry house near Bradford. We arrived by car and across the road from the restaurant was a car park – the team at Akbars manage the car park and a very smiley and polite chap is guiding the masses into available spots. And where spots were not available – they were taking keys – and advising that they would park the car for you leave your keys with the reception manager!
The front of Akbars is totally glass fronted – two floors, and it must seat about 200 (probably more) people at any one time. At 7.30 the restaurant looked full – and there was a queue of people outside. We made our way in – advised of our booking and were led to the bar by the open kitchen – where one could view what looked like masses of chefs busily creating and communicating with waiters. The vibe within the restaurant was really quite something – ‘relaxed electric’, which, I know, doesn’t make sense.
We were shown to our table by the restaurant manager (as is everyone) and he introduced us to our waiter for the evening, Jimmy. There were 12 of us in our party – not a small number. And at no time was any one of us waiting for anything. Jimmy was uber attentive. Appetisers were before our fingers before we had a chance to look down from our menus. Starters order were taken – drinks re-ordered. And this is how it went all evening.
As someone who is hugely interested in customer service – and rarely sees it managed to such perfection as was before my very eyes at Akbars – I sat back a while to observe.
The waiters – and there were many of them – were relaxed and pleasant at all times. Attentive, friendly (to just the right degree), and professional, they were well rehearsed and I got the feeling they had been working at Akbars for a number of years.
When mains were brought to the table – the chef that cooked your food (and there are many of them) came to your table to check all is okay. He explained some of the flavours and spices in some of the more ‘adventurous’ dishes – and seemed genuinely concerned that the people he had cooked for were happy with his creations. This took about 2 minutes of his time – if that!
The throughput during the evening was incredible. We remained for about 4 hours – and there was a constant buzz of people coming in, leaving – and each time the waiters dealt with the customers with the same attentive enthusiasm. I didn’t see any eyeball rolling or impatient behaviour – from customers or waiters. And yet these guys didn’t stop. The pace was unbelievable.
The food was excellent, the service was truly phenomenal - and those within my party advised me that Akbars was this busy every night of the week. ‘It’s always like this’ – doesn’t matter what time you come or what day – weekday or weekend – it’s always this busy’.
As for price – well the restaurant is well designed and laid out with a contemporary look, I would have expected it to be quite ‘high end’ from a price perspective, but it wasn’t – it was really reasonable. And as you can expect, we all tipped very well (20% - I don’t believe I’ve ever tipped that well before) – and it still felt like great value.
And it is any wonder? What a place, and what great management. They’ve got the service combination just perfect. They have a happy team who are well trained and do their job brilliantly – they have attention to detail and do things a little bit differently (the chef and the car parking). And the food (the product) stands up on its own – delicious and amazing value for money.
It was a WOW in my book. And I’m not easy to please…
http://www.akbars.co.uk/rest_brad_gallery.asp - their website states ‘probably the best Indian Restaurant in the North of England’. I’d say probably the best in the UK!