Because details matter
Just like the finer things in life
Gone is the time when diners were grateful just to receive a couple of lukewarm, suspiciously sweet bread rolls and a pat or two of sweaty margarine with their restaurant meal. These days, they're a different, substantially more demanding-and sophisticated-kettle of fish who expect bang for their buck when they dine out, and it's the restaurateur who's aware of the importance of attention to even the most miniscule of details who wins.
While we're on the topic of rolls and butter, nowadays restaurants are falling over themselves to offer homemade bread of superlative quality and gourmet branded butter, both salted and unsalted, most likely to sweeten diners' perceptions for the meal to follow. To wit: The Kitchen Table's (23, Jalan SS20/21, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, +603-7733 4000) excellent sourdough bread that's made with 200 year-old leaven mother dough that chef-owners Marcus and Mei Wan inherited from Finnish bakers during their sojourn abroad.
The Kitchen Table
But it's the relatively new Stoked (Jalan Kasah, Bukit Damansara, +603-2096 1645) which is setting the benchmark for others to follow where attention to detail is concerned. Every aspect of the dining experience has been meticulously attended to, from the cutlery (Laguiole, natch) and salt (Hawaiian Black Lava) to the sauces (the wasabi yuzu is compelling and punchy) and amuses-bouches (expect such intriguing creations as foie gras terrine with mango and balsamic sauce and cherry tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella), and it's the canny restaurateur who borrows a leaf from Stoke's book who will be rewarded in spades by satisfied customers.
Also no slouch in the service department, Fuego (Level 23A, Tower B, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC, +603-2162 0886) ranks highly amongst the restaurants that comprehensively pays homage to finessing their details. Ergo, unlike many restaurants which have developed a nasty habit of charging for water, Fuego doesn't merely offer diners complimentary water, they've even gone so far as to add fruit and herbs to their water to give it a lovely flavour. For that factor alone (even though the food is also serendipitously superb), I would happily return to the restaurant because it's a surefire indicator that the proprietors understand that service, truly good service, is paramount to an irreproachable dining experience.
That being said, ultimately it's still the food that counts, regardless how wonderful the attendant accoutrements are. So it's the restaurateur who has successfully juggled the demands of creating a complete dining experience with delicious food as the centrepiece of the gastronomic spectacle who will ultimately lead the pack, and thanks to restaurants like Stoked, which has thrown down the gauntlet with much aplomb, aspiring restaurateurs had better bring their A-game to the table, or they will risk being left a long distance behind.