Restaurant service: do women do it better?

A new book dishes the dirt on the tricks of the restaurant trade, but a new breed of female maitres d’ could change all that.

As a food writer, this is probably heresy. But (deep breath) when it comes to restaurants – the service matters more than the food. Think about it. Even if the food is great, but the waiter is offhand and slipshod, you’re likely to have a miserable meal. But when the service is fabulous, the kind that makes you feel like a film star, then you’ll have a brilliant time and probably return again – even if the food was so-so.

But if you believe newly published Restaurant Babylon, the latest industry-excoriating schlocker from Imogen Edwards-Jones, author of Hotel Babylon and Air Babylon, the staff aren’t entirely on your side. The waiters at the fictional Le Restaurant spin out the guests’ waiting times to suit the kitchen and aren’t above fiddling the bill if they think you’ve had so much to drink that you won’t notice. Don’t even ask what the chef does with the steak that’s ordered well done.