A fine meal is better when the server knows how to deliver it. Indeed, the front-of-house staff can leave a lasting impression that guarantees a return visit or thwarts the very thought. Richmond has a long way to go to match the professional service standards of other places, but among the bright spots, these folks are exemplary as they lead the charge:
Mya Anitai, a co-owner at Dinamo in Oregon Hill. Always attentive, she's one of the best guides you'll encounter to finding your way through a menu. She's knowledgeable, opinionated and willing to use her tastes to guide you, or to set them aside if your preferences differ. — M.F.
Danny Spry at Amour Wine Bistro in Carytown. I am always surprised at how he can seem so knowledgeable but so invisible. In the tiny space that is Amour, he navigates an inconspicuous service that's nothing short of admirable. — R.M.
Kali Strain at Amuse in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is personable, smilingly efficient and on a sunny mission to ensure guests have a good time. — K.N.
Ron Stradone at Camden's Dogtown Market in Manchester parlays a stint at the Inn at Little Washington into attention to every dining detail — and his quick wit doesn't hurt, either. — K.N.
LaJoy Smith at Mama J's in Jackson Ward lives up to her name with a smile, and can recite two-dozen varieties of cake without missing a beat. — D.B.
Chuck Engel at Chez Foushee sets the tone for the quietly elegant setting downtown and is always cordial and attentive to guests. — D.B.
Thomas Buchanan at Acacia, who is sophisticated yet restrained, and quite knowledgeable about every aspect of the food and drink menus. He is my absolute favorite server in Richmond. — D.B.