Best Servers of KRLD Restaurant Week Number One: Amber Zuniga and John Mand of Charlie Palmer, Come On Down!

Co-winners Amber Zuniga and John Mand of Charlie Palmer at the Joule.

Last week we asked KRLD Restaurant Week participants to pay attention to servers who went above and beyond the call of duty to make the experience memorable. You did! And you emailed reports and photos of great servers in Dallas.

The winner of week goes to Charlie Palmer at the Joule. Okay, I know Charlie isn’t a server, but two servers from the restaurant, Amber Zuniga and John Mand, received stellar reviews so I am proclaiming them the winners.

Below you will find other servers who captured your attention during the first KRLD Restaurant Week. Thanks to all who took the time to nominate your server. And thanks to the many servers who work hard to represent the Dallas restaurant business. We appreciate you both. Go. Eat. Nominate. ([email protected]).

Charlie Palmer at the Joule

Reader: Amber Zuniga at Charlie Palmer did an amazing job last night.
We had a group of 6 people and she did not once make a mistake the whole evening.  Every order was perfect, drinks were always full, she de-crumbed after every course and we never felt rushed. She also did an awesome job of up-selling us on a few special selections of the evening in addition to answering all questions we had.
By the end of the night we became that somewhat rowdy table, since the remainder of the restaurant was nearly empty, and even then, I never felt like we were a bother to her or anyone else.
Amber was pleasant, professional and intelligent.  An all around great server.

Reader: I think it would be wonderful if SideDish could recognize the server my party had this evening at Charlie Palmer at The Joule.  His name is John M.  Sorry I didn’t catch his last name or get a photo of him before I could read about this quest.  But I can honestly say that the attitude, service, and friendly demeanor of John M. was as much a reason why our dining experience was top notch as was the food itself.  From soup to nuts, that was the best Restaurant Week dinner we’ve had in the past 3-4 years of participation. The Chef may be used to getting rewards and accolades, but this good man that took care of us this evening, deserves top honors for the front side of the house this week and the 25% tip we left for him just doesn’t seem like enough!  Please select John M. from Charlie Palmer at The Joule and help me show my appreciation as well.


Bailey’s Prime Plus Park Lane

Reader: For Best Server of KRLD Restaurant Week, I’d like to nominate Sara Berden (server) and Brian Huynh (sommelier) of Bailey’s Prime Plus at Park Lane for excellent service on Wednesday night. Sara was personable, accommodating, and prompt – which is not easy when your party of 8 is in a separate room from the rest of the dining area. Brian is knowledgeable and was very gracious when we notified him that our two bottles of the same wine tasted completely different. We ordered the last two bottles of that vintage and he recommend a replacement wine that was better than the first bottle we drank. (We actually went over to Whole Foods after dinner and bought a few bottles of it to drink at home.) This was a first experience at Bailey’s for all of us and we agreed that each of us would return due to the excellent service of these two individuals.
As a side note, the bartender was wonderful too. Well made drinks, though my martini was not dirty enough and she kindly chilled my olive juice before presenting it so as to not warm up my martini.

Reader: I went to Dish on Tuesday evening for Restaurant Week.  It was my first time to the venue.  We were a party of 6 and were lucky enough to have Ira Steck be out waiter.  I have participated in Restaurant week for many years in Dallas and have had a mixture of experiences.  Most of my party had not been part of it before and did not understand how lucky we were!!
Ira was great at explaining the whole concept behind the week as well as explaining what was being offered, how we could upgrade if we wanted and add a wine tasting.  Even though he upsold, he was subtle in it!!
He made great recommendations on all of it and we had a great experience!!  In other words, we had happen what was supposed to happen (of course besides helping north texas food bank!LOL)!
I look forward to getting back to Dish again, I had wanted to try it and just never made it and I hope to be lucky enough to have Ira again too!!
Good food and good service!!  Please make sure you recognize him!!!!!

Ellerbe Fine Foods in Fort Worth

Reader: Justin at Ellerbe Fine Foods in Fort Worth. Always does what’s necessary to make the meal memorable including offering pairing advice, portion advice, etc. Great waiter!!!


Reader: There are servers who make you feel like you have to eat quickly, so they can turn the table. Candice Proctor (left) n-e-v-e-r rushed us. When the manager came by to check on our table, we told him how impressed we were with Candice and he told us that she’s the best and had been at Hibiscus for four year.

Let me also interject that the support staff at Hibiscus (probably like many others) deserves a huge pat on the back especially during RW. The busboys never let dirty plates sit on our tables; water glasses were quickly refilled; and napkins were quickly folded and put on the backs of chairs if one of us had to leave the table. Even the blonde who greeted us at the door whisked us through as if we were royalty on our way to a coronation.

While others have raved about the Hibiscus crab dip and tenderloin (which I had and totally agree with their assessment), they also gave Candice five stars. Please consider her as the best. She deserves credit for working hard and never letting on.


Reader: My husband and I went to Nobu last night. I was excited to go, but had heard mixed reviews about the service during RW. We ended up having a wonderful experience (sans me spilling miso soup all over our table and my dress … which was promptly and discreetly cleaned up by our server). Our server, Luis (left), was awesome. When he greeted us he asked if we had ever been to Nobu before. We told him we hadn’t and he proceeded to make several recommendations that were their specialties or customer favorites. I asked him what he would recommend for vegetarian options and he gave went through the menu with me and gave me several different options. I ended up straying from the RW menu and ordered a cup of miso soup, the vegetable roll and the tofu sizzling dome … which was served with shitake mushrooms and asparagus. Luis informed me that the miso soup was normally prepared with fish broth and asked if I would like him to switch it to vegetable broth. Bonus points. Then, he also asked me if I’d like the tofu dome switched prepared with olive oil instead of butter. More bonus points. Love Luis. My whole meal was excellent. My husband ordered of the RW menu and had the broiled Alaskan black cod, which he raved about. Although, he pretty much likes anything :). All in all, we had a great experience, from the food to the service to the atmosphere. I’ll definitely go back to Nobu. Thanks, Luis!

Pyramid Room

Reader: Here goes — His name was Gustavo (left) at the Pyramid Room. He was excellent. I told him to pick an entree for me and it was a nice duck and no fat. (Our dining partner claims that his boar was so good, he wanted to return Wednesday night for seconds.) Everyone else on the staff went beyond the call of duty to provide us with breads, refills and removal of plates without interrupting our conversation. The service was stellar thanks to Gustavo et al, which always is frosting on the cake for the food.