Discover the various types of restaurant service and understand the necessary skills and techniques needed to provide different dining experiences.
As a hotel staff member, it is important to understand the different types of restaurant services that exist. These services can range from a highly personalized French service to a quick and efficient American service. Each service has its unique characteristics, which are tailored to meet specific guest needs.
English Service (also known as host service)
In this service, the host plays an active role in the serving process. The waiter brings the food on platters to the table and shows it to the host for approval.
The host can choose to portion the food into guest plates or allow the waiter to serve the guests. For replenishing food, the waiter may either take the dishes around for guests to help themselves or serve them directly.
In this highly personalized service, food is brought from the kitchen in dishes and salvers and placed directly on the table. The plates are kept near the dish, and the guests can help themselves.
A highly elaborate type of service. It involves the use of sterling silverware to set the table for hors d’oeuvres, soup, main courses, and sweet dishes. The food is portioned into silver platters at the kitchen and placed at the sideboard with burners or hot plates to keep the food warm.
Plates are placed before the guests, and the waiter picks the platter from the hot plate and presents the dish to the host for approval. The waiter then serves each guest using a service spoon and fork.
A unique service where the dish is partially prepared in the kitchen and completed at the table by the waiter. In some cases, a complete meal is cooked at the tableside in the restaurant. The waiter uses a mobile trolley with a gas cylinder and burners called a gueridon trolley to prepare the dish in front of the guests.
The waiter has to possess considerable dexterity and skill to fillet, carve, flambé, and prepare the food with showmanship. The guests are entertained with the preparation process, making it an enjoyable dining experience.
An elaborate silver service that is similar to French service. However, in Russian service, the waiter portions and carves the food at the gueridon trolley in full view of the guests (the main difference between Russian service and Gueridon service is the level of interaction between the guests and the servers, and the way the food is prepared and presented to the guests).
The presentation and display of the food are given considerable importance, with whole joints, poultry, game, and fish elaborately dressed and garnished before being presented to the guests. Russian Service is a unique and exciting experience for guests who want to indulge in a luxurious dining experience.
A quick and efficient service where the food is served into the guest’s plate in the kitchen and brought to the table. The portions are predetermined by the kitchen, and the accompaniments served with the dish balance the entire presentation in terms of nutrition and color. This type of service is commonly used in a coffee shop where quick service is required.
A quick-service option that exists in industrial canteens, colleges, hospitals, or hotel cafeterias. The menu is fixed and displayed on large boards to facilitate quick service. The guests may have to buy coupons in advance and present them to the counter waiter who then serves the desired item.
Sometimes, food is displayed behind the counter, and guests indicate their choice to the counter attendant. The food is served pre-plated, and the cutlery is handed directly to the guest. Guests can then sit at tables and chairs provided by the establishment. Sometimes high tables are provided where guests can stand and eat.
Counter Service or Snack-bar Service
A quick-service option where tall stools are placed along a counter so that guests can eat at the counter itself. In better establishments, the covers are laid out on the counter itself. Food is either displayed behind the counter for guests to choose from or is listed on a menu card or common blackboard.
Grill Room Service
involves various meats grilled in front of the guest. The meats may be displayed behind a glass partition or well-decorated counter so that the guest can select their exact cut of meat. The food comes pre-plated.
Food is displayed on tables, and the guests can take their plates from a stack at the end of each table or request the waiter behind the buffet table to serve them. This service is ideal for guests who want to enjoy a wide variety of dishes quickly and without formalities.
Sit-down Buffet Service
Tables are laid out with crockery and cutlery, just like in a restaurant. The guests serve themselves at the buffet table and return to their tables to eat. The waiter may serve a few courses, such as appetizers and soup at the guest table. This service is ideal for guests who want to enjoy a wide variety of dishes in a relaxed and casual setting.
Another type of service that implies serving food and beverages in guest rooms of hotels. Small orders are served in trays, while major means are taken to the room on trolleys. The guest places their order with the room service order taker, and the waiter receives the order and transmits it to the kitchen.
In the meanwhile, he prepares the tray or trolley and then goes to the cashier to have a cheque prepared to take along with the food order for the guests’ signature or payment. The clearance of soiled dishes from the room is usually done after half an hour or an hour. However, the guest can telephone room service for clearance as and when they have finished with the meal.
For more information on restaurant service types in the hospitality industry, we recommend the following resources:
Websites for Restaurant Professionals:
National Restaurant Association: restaurant.org
Full Service Restaurant News: fsrmagazine.com
Quick-Service and Fast Casual Restaurant News: qsrmagazine.com
Restaurant Dive: restaurantdive.com