But yes, there's definitely a strong correlation to the level of service versus a system of tipping at restaurants. Perhaps it's the culture too. The tips do go directly to the servers instead of being rounded into the nonsense of a 10 - 12% service charge which might not translate into higher staff salaries or bonuses. Servers at restaurants that encourage direct tipping seem genuinely interested in treating you well and understand the nature of the food they serve and the restaurants' mission. We miss this sort of service in Singapore and that's probably the biggest reason why at home, we return to a select group of cafes and eateries where servers understand our preferences and treat us the way we prefer.
All our servers at Seattle restaurants so far could figure out the level of attention we need, and many even pre-empted our desires. For example, one described a dish and noticed my flicker of hesitation when she mentioned about the sauce slathered on top of the fish. She immediately offered to place the sauce at the side, to which I grinned widely and said, "You read my mind."
After rounding up the tip to the nearest dollar, we still have to write the total. On many occasions, I still have to whip out the phone to calculate the total figure to sign on the bill. Quite embarrassing. Heh. No wonder they say it can be easier to just sign for the items consumed and tip in cash. But I don't usually carry much cash, not even in Singapore. If I could just use the credit card all the way, that would be awesome.