Meet Britain’s best waiter
The London waiter was named the best in the UK after receiving rave reviews for his service.
Neil Heshmat, 71, has worked for 45 years at French restaurant Oslo Court where he became a star for Londoners.
The restaurant near Regent’s Park has been a regular haunt of famous people over the decades, including US President Lyndon Johnson, former Prime Minister David Cameron, director Michael Winner and regular diner Matt Lucas.
Comedian Lucas even chose the restaurant as a luxury item when he appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island records because of the waiter.
Lucas told the show that Mr. Heshmat was one of the main reasons for his choice, such as his “flamboyant” way of pulling out the dessert cart.
He joked, “Am I allowed to take a restaurant?” Oslo Court. It’s incredible. Best thing is the dessert server there. He is very flamboyant.
Mr. Heshmat, originally from Egypt, has now been awarded for his showmanship and knowledge of desserts. The title of UK’s Most Popular Waiter was based on the number of mentions he had over the years in restaurant reviews both online and in print.
He has been referenced favorably more than any other restaurant staff member in the UK. Of TripAdvisor’s 657 “excellent” reviews on Oslo Court, Mr. Heshmat is mentioned in 92.
Some 30 percent of Yelp reviews for Oslo Court also mention it positively by name or title. The data was analyzed by Superb, a customer experience management system used by restaurants.
Evening Standard restaurant critic Fay Maschler was among those who praised the waiter.
She wrote in 2018: “Neil, who takes care of the desserts displayed on a cart and who has worked in the restaurant since 1976, charms and coaxes and provokes us in a lemon meringue pie and a raspberry mille-feuille served with ice cream.
On his new status as the UK’s most popular waiter, Neil, whose favorite dessert is crème brûlée, has revealed the secret to his success.
He said, “I never grumble. I give love to people, but it also helps that I give people cake. I try to make it an experience – when my mother died, I would wear all of her jewelry when I was working. Its diamonds, emeralds and rubies, it wasn’t just about pushing the cart, it was also about putting on a show.
“I even served late President Lyndon Johnson and his wife Lady Bird. They loved coming here and we made them extremely comfortable. But I try to make everyone feel like this. I always look after clients as if they were my own family. However, he joked that every day at work hadn’t been a triumph.
He adds: “One day, thirty years ago, I was burning a pancake suzette in front of a table and I set fire to the dining room.
“We have such low ceilings here that it’s too risky to do it anymore because there are so many things that can catch fire, we stopped doing it after that day!” My boss Mr. Sanchez is such a wonderful man he didn’t scream or scream, we take care of each other like family.
Zaedo Musa, Founder and CEO of Superb, said: “Neil is an inspiration to the restaurant industry and to all who appreciate that an incredible dining experience is not just about food.