La Grande Cascade - absurdist humor at it finest
"Les Folies de la Grande Cascade"
As I'm gearing up for a trip to France this weekend, I've recalled a bizarre experience we had last summer that I thought I'd share.
For my birthday my fiancé asked the concierge at our hotel (Hotel Raphael) for a restaurant recommendation. He said La Grande Cascade, which has one Michelin star, would be an excellent choice. He said it was nearby and because they had a "special relationship" with the management he could reserve a good table for us even with little advanced notice. His hopes were high. But our evening there was more like an experiment in absurdist humor!
The staff was terribly trained, dropping plates on the table, forgetting silverware with each course...we questioned whether it could have been an intern experience for teenagers from a hospitality lycée. Food arrived lukewarm to cold, was prepared haphazardly, and could not compare to any of the other Michelin-starred restaurants we've dined at. The management scurried around the room melodramatically (and ineffectively: it was impossible to get their attention when it was urgently needed). They were like flamboyant caricatures of French restaurant staff.
Fortunately by halfway through the meal our attitude toward this spectacle unfolding around us had switched from frustration to amusement. Then the climax was set before us: it was the proverbial fly in the lady's soup! When I saw the offending being, wings submerged and legs flailing, I almost dissolved into laughter given the bizarre course of events.
It took a few minutes to get someone's attention and then for the whole "team" to be rounded up to inspect the situation. But rather than whisking it away with profuse apologies, they rolled their eyes at us. I could almost hear their thought bubbles..."Thees touristes stupeed, they do non appreciate les insects français. They are un delicacy, non?" :)
But I can assure you this was not a case of a cultural misunderstanding...we both speak French and have lived (and dined out extensively) in France and Francophone countries. This restaurant has a great historical reputation, and we were baffled as to what went on that night. We've renamed the restaurant "Les Folies de la Grande Cascade" when we recount the story to friends!