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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

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  1. Thank you for the post. There is no excuse for the rude service from the owners.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      An unprofessional owner is inexcusable. It is not your duty to repair the mistakes of others. I will be in Paris next month and will not dine at Le Reminet. Sorry, but thank you.
      What restaurant(s) did you love?

      1. re: alf1052

        Alf1052, this thread is quite out of date. You might seek more recent information.

    2. 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.

      1. Bill

        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......

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. Let me add that the problem was not the American (or maybe Canadian) tourists (some of my best friends...........), rather this was my hypotheses on why the service was what it was. They were probably more bothered by us (a noisy group of Norwegians) than we were by them.

              1. Wow...having just started reading (and very much appreciating) this forum, I now feel like I made a great 'find' in 1999 when I first set foot in Le Reminet (and again in 2000 and 2001).

                I returned Sunday for the last meal of our trip to Paris (my wife's first time to the city), and have to somewhat agree with recent reports. The food is still great, although I wasn't blown away as I have been in the past. The service is still decent (particularly if you speak ANY french at all), albeit slower and less personal than I recalled. They've changed the table configuration to allow for more seating, and the place, whether bad or good, is filled with english-speakers. Obviously, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that (I am one, after all), but I always felt we'd found a neat little parisien neighborhood secret before.

                In any case, it's still very much worth a visit, particularly, IMO, for first-time visitors to Paris looking for a nice meal in the 5th. The food is simple and excellent, and the sliver of a space just seems so 'Paris' to me. The 50 Euro menu is 2 starters and 2 mains (chosen from the main a la carte menu, including the specials board) a cheese and dessert (no choices with those 2), and is great. Allows you to sample a lot of different dishes at a very fair price. The daily (or weekly) wine selections are usually fair values and always good. THe main wine list is well chosen, too.

                Short version is, I would and will go back, but will definitely start looking around for the 'next' Le Reminet on future visits. Still, first-timers...don't be too discouraged by the less-than-stellar reviews it's picking up lately (there are several on this board). As Viking states, The food is still great, the service can be a bit slow, but it's still a good representation of a nice neighborhood restaurant.

                1. It always amazes me that people think because a place is full of "tourists" , that it can't be good or "local". Especially during the work week, I wonder how many Parisians eat out ? I know after a busy day all I want to do is go home. Often too English speakers will be placed together because not all of the staff speaks English well enough to take orders.

                  As far as I know there is only one waitress and we found her to be charming and helpful. She certainly showed us the labels on our wine before opening and pouring. Several times during 3 or 4 dinners on our last trip, the white haired man came down to check on everyone and see that all was well.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jcnd

                    When did the change in ownership take place at Le Reminet?

                    1. re: Laidback

                      Sometime in November , I think

                  2. I just returned from a week in Paris and Le Reminet was one of the stand-out meals: the entire experience including food + service + ambiance + value. My husband and I love to "discover" places that are frequented by locals, and while there were a number of Americans there, there were French and others too, and the presence of Americans did not detract from the experience. I speak quite a bit of French, and always use it, even when proprietors and waiters speak English, but I did not detect that we were treated better than English-speaking patrons nearby. The food was truly great, the service attentive, unhurried, and friendly. The white-haired owner is a lovely gentleman, and the young woman viking10 refers to was probably a bit inexperienced but sweet and charming. Our one small complaint is that when they did not have the bottle of wine we ordered, they brought another that was 4 euros more, a small matter indeed, but they should have probably charged the price of the one we ordered.

                    Viking10 sounds like an inexperienced traveler and restaurant-goer. If there is a problem with something, such as the wine, and you do not want it, you cannot expect to drink it all and not be charged! In addition, it does not sound as if you are aware that Paris restaurants are all "service compris," that is the service charge or tip is included. I wonder if you have been double tipping! Many patrons, including French locals leave nothing additional, although it is gracious to leave a token by rounding up if you enjoyed the meal.

                    Yes, Le Reminet is on the tourist map, but don't let that keep you from enjoying a lovely restaurant experience, which is incredibly reasonable for such a prime location.

                    1. My wife and I ate at Le Reminet in June '05, we thought it was a very mixed experience. Exellent food, mediocre and rushed service. Very noisy restaurant, and unusually cramped seating. Our table was near the front door, and everytime someone opened the door, it hit the back of my chair....and the tables were jammed so tightly there was no room to move our table/my chair to avoid getting bumped every single time.

                      That said, it is a cardinal rule that if your server makes a serious error such as delivering the wrong bottle of wine, don't drink it unless you intend to pay for it. There isn't any ambiguity here among experienced diners on that question. If you do drink it, and then demand it be free, frankly, I think you deserve a scolding from the restaurant.

                      1. I called to inquire about reservations at Le Reminet back in May when I was in Paris for 2 weeks. The man on the other end abruptly cut me off, explaining he had nothing that evening, and before I could continue he hung up on me. He certainly made my decision easy in terms of dining options.

                        And I speak perfect French...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                          We ate at le reminet for lunch in may. the food was fine, but the staff made the lunch less pleasant than it could have been. we were waited on by a young man. as we ordered, i asked if the chicken breast (on the menu with a fancy sauce and parsnips) could be prepared simply with simple vegetables for the children. i speak perfect french, and we were the only ones in the resto at the time, so i was shocked when he condescendingly retorted 'this is a gastronomique restaurant and that isn't done in france. i was stunned, but with hungry children decided to stay and make do. i explained that we have had such simple requests gladly performed by chefs all over france, in restaurants that even had lots of michelin stars and forks, as our children have been dining with us since they were babies..... he didn't offer to ask the chef, and insisted that it wasn't possible, so i ordered, and we got on with our meal. our starters (gazpacho, oysters, ) were fine, but nothing special. our mains came, and low and behold the childrens plates were void of the strong flavored parsnips that i had commented on, and had carrots instead. the mains were good to excellent, with the most disappointing being the prix-fixe, which i have forgotten.... i had an interesting shredded lamb wrapped in stomach lining whose name also escapes me. we ordered a 96 gigondas, after i questionned the waiter if it was still drinking well and would not be weak. he assured me that it was still superb. it wasn't, and was instead what i thought it would be; a little bit past time and too 'port-ish'. we didn't say anything about that because he was still being condescending. all in all, the meal was fine. not great at all, and we wouldn't go back due to the attitude of the staff. we have had lovely childrens plates offered to us elsewhere, and i was shocked that the waiter thought his resto was above pleasing paying clients.

                        2. We've eaten at Le Reminet only once. The welcome was warm, menu choices and resulting plates quite good, service without fault. We left before dessert or coffee because of the noise level. The room was full of large parties of ebbulient and well wined English speakers. It was impossible to converse across the table. The chef came out to see why we had asked for our check so early in the dinner. When we explained that the noise level was painful, he smiled and asked us to please return and to request a table in the cellar which was quieter. For what it's worth...

                          1. We were disappointed on a recent visit to Le Reminet in Paris to discover the founding chef and his lovely, welcoming wife had sold our favorite Paris restaurant -- the greatest food/value in the 5th 5 years ago. If you miss the great food and friendly service that made Le Reminet what it once was, you MUST visit Le Saotico in the 2nd: A lovely restaurant by the team that made Le Reminet great.!! We were delighted to find Chef Hugues Gournay and his delightful wife Anne Surcouf serving our favorite Normandy-inspired dishes like those that Hugues created at Le Reminet. Make a point to visit this lovely gem of a restaurant on your next trip to Paris. You will be delighted!!

                            Le Saotico, 96 rue Richelieu, 2nd, Tel. 01-42-96-03-20. Metro: Bourse or Richelieu-Drouot. Monday-Friday 8am-8pm. Average a la carte 35 Euros. http://www.saotico.com

                            1. We ate a late lunch at le reminet on Bastille Day. We really enjoyed the food, and the service was fine. They staff was very accomodating - evensweet to an American couple with two small children. That location is certain to attract American tourists. If avoiding Americans at meals is a goal, it probably is best to hop on the Metro and go to outer area restaurants. We ate wonderfully in and around the 14th on our last trip, and the original La Regalade is on my must-visit for future trips.

                              I agree with those who consider drinking the bottleof wine and not paying for it was a bad idea.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dcbbq

                                Completely agree, including "drinking the bottleof wine and not paying for it was a bad idea".

                                " i asked if the chicken breast (on the menu with a fancy sauce and parsnips) could be prepared simply with simple vegetables for the children. i speak perfect french, and we were the only ones in the resto at the time, so i was shocked when he condescendingly retorted 'this is a gastronomique restaurant and that isn't done in france." "
                                Condescension is an attitude, which those of us who were not present cannot comment on. In terms of content, I do not see anything wrong with what the waiter was quoted as saying. One can try to impose one's cooking style in a big hotel restaurant, and even there the chef may or may not agree. It's his call, not the diner's. I cannot imagine burdening a small bistro with one's own recipe demand.

                              2. Just went there today for Sunday lunch. It is listed as a moderately priced restaurant in Michelin's rough guide. When I arrived the prices were anything but moderate. I sar down anyway and noticed a tasting menu for 55 euros. The dishes looked on the menu looked great so I figured it was worth the splurge. When i inquired about the tasting menu, the first waiter who waited on me said that I could include items from the specials. I ordered a glass of sancerre which was quite nice. After several minutes, another waiter comes to take my order only to inform me that it was too late to order the tasting menu. I guess he figured I would end ordering a multi course meal anyway and they could milk me for more dough. I was upset and politely let it be known. Not even an apology from the waiter. I proceeded to order a single plate (the scallops, which were prepared quite nicely) and from that point on my words with the waiters were curt and exclusively in French. I did not order to desert or coffee and will never return. Great food, shady business model.