Le Reminet : What a sorry state of affairs..............
Just back from a wonderful week-end in Paris (see separate posting). The only disappointment of the whole week-end was Le Reminet.
I must admit that some alarm bells started ringing when we walked into the restaurant and saw that were only (all due respect) Americans in the place. A restaurant in Paris without French people is a bad sign, and it appears to me that the owners of Le Reminet have now decided to move into the "cash cow" phase of operations and milk the excellent reputation of the place for all that it is worth. The food is still very, very good (with some small exceptions), but to my mind the service can be called terrible. It started with the ordering, where our group of eight felt that it was being rushed as if there was a second serving coming after us. It continued with a waitress that seemed to have come straight out of grammar school (probably big savings being made here), that did not know the least thing about serving wine, and actually managed to bring a wrong (and lesser) bottle of wine when we ordered a refill and poured it into our glasses with the existing wine. We complained about this, told her that we did not want to see the second bottle on the bill, and assumed that she would bring us a new bottle. When no such thing happened (in fact, nobody of the staff was to be seen anymore in the cellar), some of my thirsty brethren actually drank the wine (an interesting if slightly disappointing mix of a Chablis Premier Cru and a standard Chablis). When the time came to ask for the bill, I explained to the co-owner that I did not expect to see the second bottle on the bill. After a long wait she and her husband came to announce that they had (graciously) decided to take off the bottle, but scolded us having drank the wine. As I do not appreciate being scolded at restaurants (something about being a paying customer), an argument ensured about what had happened. We finally left without leaving a tip. This could have been handled in many different ways, many of which would have had us leave the restaurant as fairly happy customers laughing at a strange accident, probably leaving behind a tip that would have more than covered the cost of the wine, but this was not one of them. My theory is that this is what happens when a restaurant becomes too used to having only tourists, who are happy to have scored a table at a popular restaurant, and who are probably not in a mood to get into a negative mood over bad service.
My advice would be to keep the cook, fire the front-end personnel and replace them with staff of the professional caliber you usually get in French restaurants
While I commisserate with you for going to Paris and being subject to eating with Americans, something I am loathe to do as well, and while the service seems to have been severely lacking, I'm sorry but I think you are wrong and you should have paid for the second bottle of wine if your party drank it. The proprietor was justified in making a statement to you regarding your not keeping your end of the bargain when you said you did not want that particular bottle of wine and yet went ahead and drank it anyway. You were being scolded because you were in effect at that point NOT a paying customer for the bottle of wine that was consumed. I'm sure anyone who sat down and ate and refused to pay would be scolded as well. The moment you drank the wine after saying you did not want it and did not order it was the moment you gave up the high ground in the matter.
I understand your argument, but the alternative would have been that they brought us (at their cost) a new Chablis Premiere Cru to replace the one that was destroyed by being mixed with the standard Chablis (some of the glasses were 1/2 full). Somehow, I do not see them having done this......
Even the French people in a place so centrally located are probably tourists, and IME, as likely as any Americans to not know what good food is.
I like the part about being scolded by the help. They sure do love to scold customers in France.
Since moving to England, I'm often reminded that people may look like Americans but may, in all fairness, be Canadians. Do you mind eating in a restaurant filled with Canadians? People make a lot of assumptions. I'm not a tourist in London but I'll always be thought of as one. Maybe those Americans eating in restaurants live in Paris. Some actually do that.