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The Convivial Table at Slow Club

02/28/10 | by slowfoodsf | Slow Food SF Convivial Table, Slow Food SF Dinner Club

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It’s difficult to even imagine topping the slow feast offered up at Slow Club on Thursday evening February 25th, but I honestly felt our hosts did just that with their genuine conviviality. Together, Owner Erin Rooney and Chef Matthew Paul provided Convivial Table with an experience that will be remembered and re-savored by all our diners for a long time to come. It was truly that special.

I won’t even attempt to describe the food beyond saying that it was abundant, inspired, varied, and delicious. There was soup, appetizers, antipasto platters, two separate salads preceding a choice of entrees and desserts. Without saying as much (he didn’t need to) the message emanating from Chef Matt was clear: “I love what I do, and I’m eager to share as much of it as I can with you.”

Before the meal even began, both Erin and Matt circled the table and personally introduced themselves to every guest. Each conveyed a commitment to making the evening special for us. As the different platters of food arrived, Matt was there to explain each element to our attentive group of diners. He discussed his sources, reasons for pairing specific ingredients, and complete explanations of individual preparations. “I roast the sunchokes in a hot oven for about fifteen minutes to bring out their natural sugars and begin caramelization,” he explained, to an appreciative guest, “and then switch them to a lower over for another fifteen to twenty five minutes. But less firm vegetables only get the high heat. They’re in and out quickly or they’ll turn mushy.”

These sort of exchanges went on throughout the evening. But it wasn’t just Matt’s depth of knowledge that was so impressive, it was his easy smile and willingness to share anything he could to accommodate. Before the night was through, he was promising “I’m here five nights a week, often six. Come back again. Say hello. Ask more questions. I’ll do my best.” That same sense of hospitality was echoed by Erin.

I read a poll recently that asked diners why they return to a particular restaurant. Cuisine, price, quality, ambiance, and location were all mentioned, but by far the number one answer was personal attention: “they make me feel welcome,” “they know me,” or “they treat me like family.”

I was acutely aware the following day that I’m already looking forward to a return visit to Slow Club. The food is delicious and reasonably priced. The room is stylish and inviting, plus, we really must appreciate any hip San Francisco restaurant where it’s easy to park nearby. I love that they are committed to fighting the good fight; sourcing locally and sustainably whenever possible. And I appreciate their continual support of Slow FOod San Francisco, so there are ample reasons to go back. But it occured to me that the number one reason I’m looking forward to returning is, guess what, they made me feel welcome. There is much to be said for superior customer service.

I heartily recommend a visit to Slow Club. You might even mention that Slow Food sent you. They’ll feed you well and treat you right. (But no, we’re not related.)

http://www.slowclub.com/ for more.

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