Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Vine: good Greek food--and great hospitality

This is sort of a post for Fort Worth friends because it's about a local restaurant, but my experience there tonight says a lot about the importance of gracious hospitality in a restaurant. Two friends and I had our annual Christmas dinner at The Vine, a relatively new, small Greek restaurant on West Seventh, just west of Montgomery Ward Plaza on the north side of the street. I'd seen it reviewed favorably, but I'd heard it described as a hole in the wall. It's not really, but neither is it one of the sleek modern places that have so taken over the So7 area. Don't get me wrong--I like Patrizio's, Terra, and others, but this was a mom-and-pop operation in a small but bright, clean space. Pop was very visible; didn't see Mom.
Our first faux pas--we walked in unbashadely carrying our own bottles of wine because we heard it was BYOB . Wrong--they have wine on the menu! I apologized to the owner when he seated us and he said no problem, graciously brought wine glasses and opened our wine. I assured him next time, we'd drink his wine.
We studied the menu--all kinds of things I love: spanikopita, dolmades (in tomato sauce--new to me), keftedes (meatballs), saganaki (notice I got stuck on the appetizers). Several varieties of kebobs, pastitso , moussaka, Greek salad. More than I could possibly contemplate.
We ordered--my friends both ordering chicken kebobs which seemed to me to waste the experience of good Greek food. I ordered two appetizers--spanikopita and dolmades--and it was way more than I could eat. The owner took our order and was graciousness personnified.
We chatted, had a lot to catch up on, though it finally dawned on me that it was taking a long time for our food to arrive. Between chatting, we watched the presentation of saganaki (flaming cheese) which my friends had never seen. I've had it several times and seeing it made me wish we'd ordered it. After what seemed forever, the owner, a tall,dignified man, appeared at our table to apologize. He himself forgot to turn in the order. He would comp the dolmades if we could wait five more minutes. We assured him we could and that comping that one appetizer wasn't necessary--it was part of my meal. When he came back, after we'd finished, to present the checks, he said he was giving us a 20% discount because of his mistake.
As we left he ushered us out, still apologizing with grace and dignity. We assured him we'd be back.
Carol, who had once chatted with him, said he's a retired engineer, worked at Lockheed and complained about the lack of really good Greek food in Fort Worth. So when he retired it was time to put up or shut up. I think and hope that he'll succeeed, and I sure intend to go back, not just because the food was good but because he was so nice to us. And no, I won't take my own wine next time-how gauche!

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