Sunday, May 24, 2009

Paris and Restaurants

Reading a blog on a restaurant in Paris, I am reminded of our experience when we visited Paris in December, 2007. One morning we were starved. We woke up late and were hoping of finding some breakfast. Our knowledge of French is zero, despite my having learnt a bit of French when I was 17. Anyways, we walked into a restaurant and found a table overlooking the road so that we could watch life when having breakfast. Having settled down, we waited for the menu card hoping to have something hot and tasty. The waiter came over, placed a menu card and wanted to know what we'd like to have. We asked if we could have bread and omlette. He told us that they were starting lunch. Going through the menu card, we found most dishes were non-vegetarian. I do have chicken and fish, but my husband is a vegetarian (yes, he does have eggs). We asked him if they had a vegetarian dish. The waiter showed us a salad and said that it was the only vegetarian dish and walked off muttering something in French. We were wondering what that was about. But as you know, things such as love, anger, .... get conveyed easily. It requires no language. We were stupified that a waiter had the audacity to do that. Feeling that it was below our dignity to continue at the restaurant, we walked off hungry, and me thankful that I didn't remember my French. For if I had, and been able to understand what the waiter said, and it was nasty, I would have given back, in the harshest of terms. As they say, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.....

That experience as well as a similar one in a Chinese restaurant in Paris, left a bad taste. Also, we realized vegetarian food is hard to come by in Paris, except for the greens. So, we happily stuck to our Italian menu of pizzas and pastas for the rest of the stay. Our interest to taste Parisian food died with that experience. Maybe some other day, some other time.

5 comments:

Leonardo said...

I had a bad experience when I tried to have dinner a bit too late in Paris (10:30 or 11PM). The waiters were definitely wanting to close the place as soon as possible, and treating us bad in the process. The food was amazing though. French food is great, French waiters are not.

Sapna said...

Well, we aren't alone in this kind of experience, is it ? What is it then ? Is it the French waiters ?

We actually found the French people very nice, except this one incident. There was the French doctor and his wife, who explained the metro system and gave us directions. Then, there were the two people who worked for the metro system. They had closed their offices around 1:30 a.m. the day we landed in Paris. They opened their offices, found a directory and explained the location of our hotel. After that, when we still got lost, the two women, who we will remain ever thankful, dropped us at 2:30 a.m. in our hotel. And all this happened during our four day stay at Paris.

So, why is there such an experience with waiters ?

Leonardo said...

Yep, with me it was also just one bad experience. And I've been there three times. Maybe they only dislike when you break some of the implicit rules of "etiquette" (e.g. go to dinner too late, ask for breakfast at lunch time, ask for vegetarian food in a place that doesn't serve it, ...). Maybe that is the problem, because I've also found French people in general quite nice. Somehow their rude approach kind of worked, since I don't plan to ever again go to a restaurant there after 10PM ;)

Cheers!

Minter said...

The tragedy with the French service is that the tip is included in the bill... The good news is that not everyone is horrible as you say, but in a country whose future is wrapped up in the strength of its tourism, you would think that they would make more effort. The more disdainful service is generally concentrated in Paris. That said, to the extent that the monuments and sights in Paris remain well maintained, it will be hard to pass up visiting. It is just that tourists will perhaps not always want to spend as much. You can try a service like Qype.com to check good restaurants ahead of time!

Sapna said...

Oh no, I didn't say everyone is horrible. Actually, we met some of the best people in Paris, people who helped us out at the worst of times. So, actually, when we think of Paris, our memories first go back to the two young women,the doctor and his wife and the metro people. The restaurant experience was bad, but it is nothing in front of the good ones we had.

So, please do not mistake me. I think I wrote about the good experiences we had earlier, if I am right as "How much time will it take ?"