Solid restaurant service is often accomplished by simply accommodating a diner's request, and the best in the business know how to over-deliver on all expectations. But few achieve stunning service, which my wife and I experienced at Raya inside the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Ready And Willing Service
We were not guests of the hotel, nor were they expecting us. It was a spontaneous visit while on a coastal drive, with expectations only of "something good at a Ritz." But it was three in the afternoon, the restaurants were closed, and it would be almost two hours before one of the bars opened. We saw a busy server inside Raya, and asked if there were anywhere on the property we could get wine and a snack. He was easy-going and engaging, appearing to empathize with our plight. He invited us into the empty restaurant, where he showed us the fantastic views of the beach and ocean below, before asking us to take a seat at a table. He said he would see what he could arrange for us.
Above And Beyond Service
When he returned with waters, he asked if we had any specific wines or snacks in mind. We were open to anything considering the circumstances, but he pressed us on wine. I mentioned that I had been on a French Syrah trend. He departed again, returning shortly with a platter of cheeses, nuts, and olives, simple and satisfying. He explained that Raya did not have any French wines by the glass, but that he had something in the works. Soon, he was back again, this time with three glasses of French reds, including a Syrah, from the neighboring wine bar.
We were shocked at the lengths to which this lone waiter went to give us an unforgettable experience. He looked after us for over an hour, while tending to his planned duties. If this is how the Raya staff treats drop-ins, the treatment when they are actually open for business must be special indeed!
Raya, Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel - One Ritz-Carlton Dr., Dana Point, CA 92629