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Hillstone Restaurant Review

Hillstone: Manhattan Midtown
153 E. 53rd St, New York, NY
www.hillstone.com
212.888.3828

Upon entering the Hillstone Restaurant in Midtown East, my guest and I were received warmly and welcomed by friendly greeters who told us that it would be approximately 20 minutes until we were seated. I gave the host my name and sure enough, we were seated in the expected time that she had told us. While waiting, we listened to festive live jazz. As I surveyed the beautiful dining room, I took notice of the open kitchen, a particular point of interest where I witnessed employees in the kitchen pasting barbeque sauce on racks of eager ribs, making my mouth water. The openness of the kitchen physically allowed for customers to see their food being prepared, establishing a transparent dynamic between the clients and the restaurant. People knew exactly what they were being served and how it was being prepared. This ideal complemented my perception of Hillstone’s friendly service that fostered a feeling of family and community.

The décor was simple, yet elegant. The dim lighting offset by the maple-colored lampshades well complemented the wooden tables and booths. The use of booths, big and small, really promoted an intimate environment, where customers could not only be seated and lounge comfortably, but also have easily accessible face-to-face contact.

Upon being seated, our server, Aaliyah, introduced herself and clearly portrayed a great familiarity with the menu and knowledge of the food, having her own preferences and favorites. I was particularly pleased with the setup of the menu; its simplicity and variety worked well with the seasonal nature, being the fall menu. My guest and I started our dining experience with the Grilled Jumbo Artichoke (I saw these being prepared while waiting and had to try it!). Having questions about a few items on the menu, I inquired with Aaliyah who provided well-versed answers, sharing her insight and experience. After hearing her personal suggestions and the nightly specials, I chose the Wild Striped Bass with Crispy Rock Shrimp, while my guest selected the Stacked Barbeque Ribs (he couldn’t resist either).

Throughout the entire meal, our glasses were never empty. We were well attended to, and our server invited any request. She truly showed investment in our dining experience, answering our questions and accommodating our requests for condiments to be held on the side, extra plates and an inquiry about whether peanuts were in our dessert (my guest had an allergy). Aaliyah’s friendly and warm demeanor and extremely hospitable attitude made me curious about what her experience was like with Hillstone. When I asked her about it, she shared that she had just moved to New York, but had worked in restaurants before. She expressed a deep fondness for the working environment that Hillstone promoted, confessing that it was unlike anything she had ever been a part of—she truly felt like a part of a progressive and cohesive team. Because servers attended to no more than 3 tables at a time, she could give her undivided attention to the customers that she served and be involved in making their dining experience comfortable, something which was apparent to us, her guests, as well. Aaliyah also articulated a gratitude for the learning experience that she’s had at Hillstone to learn such quality values about service and dining.

My experience at Hillstone confirmed and exceeded the great expectations that I had, not only for the food, but also the quality of service and the entirety of my dining experience. I was truly impressed and fascinated by the professionalism of the restaurant, which was a great reflection of Hillstone’s internal values of teamwork and cooperation. Each employee that I observed seemed genuinely happy to serve and value the customers they catered to. As a guest, I certainly felt valued and accommodated for, from the moment I stepped in the restaurant. I really appreciated the way that Hillstone sought to enrich every aspect of my experience.

Hillstone embodies the values of dining that I find of the utmost importance. First, it places an emphasis on the experience, which is composed of delicious food, great service and a warm atmosphere. Secondly, the way that the restaurant values its employees just as much as its customers is truly indicative of its care for each and every individual’s experience. After having been involved in a variety of service organizations, primarily in social justice and community service, I have an understanding of what it means to work on behalf of another, to advocate for them and their needs and the effort it requires to hold this kind of responsibility. Meeting the needs of individuals, familiar and unfamiliar, is a difficult task that requires a great deal of support. Understanding this, Hillstone revolutionizes the way work in a restaurant is done by establishing an environment that sincerely encourages its employees to not only cooperate with one another, but also be invested in the customer collectively. I’m drawn to Hillstone for this reason, more than any other organization or company, because it integrates my affinity and desire to work in business and hospitality. This desire stems from my yearning to achieve goals; in the restaurant business, these goals reside in overcoming obstacles in order to continue to improve the quality of food and service. Moreover, I am a leader by nature who possesses a keen eye for what needs to be accomplished and enhanced, an active ear for feedback and compelling voice to unite and serve individuals. I am an individual who thrives by working on my feet and is dynamic in a team setting, and likes the challenge of thinking critically, which is exactly what Hillstone promotes. At Hillstone, I would like to contribute to and better its innovative vision for successful service and increase its novel efficiency in customer satisfaction. I truly believe that Hillstone is a great fit for me to learn, voice my thoughts and ideas, and make a great impact on the experiences of the many individuals who work for and dine with Hillstone.

 

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Waiting for the Return of Lost Houston’s Burger Glory in San Francisco
    February 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

    February 21, 2011
    the Lost Houston’s Burger Experience

    Houston’s once had the #1 burger in San Francisco. But not anymore. Some clown came along and decided they needed to change the bun to a stiff, cakey kaiser roll. This added a lot more bread to each bite. It also diminished the meat-to-bun ratio in favor of the bun. That’s fine if you came for the bun. But bad if you came for the beef.

    They also played with the beef. Maybe it was a cost-cutting measure. Afterall, they changed the burger right about the time the economy went south in late ‘08’. But somebody should have told them their customers held the quality of their beef to a higher standard than new management profits. The new beef doesn’t taste as good as the old beef and the burger is a mouthful of kaiser roll.

    I have not been back for a burger in more than 18 months.

    On another not, the artichoke dip also seems to have lost its allure. I do hope the new management hasn’t tampered with this mainstay. It was another of those one-of-a-kind dishes that made Houston’s unique.

    I continue to order other meals and appetizers on the menu. While the overall food experience has dropped off since the change from Houston’s to Hillstone, I grit my teeth and bear the lose. I still swim the warm ambiance and classy service that makes this S.F. dinning experience special. It’s true, I am a whore for top-notch service. I hope Hillstone will get their act together and restore the Houston’s menu of former glory (assuming they haven’t lost the recipe to their former burger).

    Waiting for the Return of Lost Houston’s Burger Glory in San Francisco

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