St Tropez, Fairfield...what happened!!
I went to dinner at St Tropez a week or so ago. I have been there quite a few times over the years and have always been pleased by both the food and the service. That was not the case this last visit. My wife and I met 2 other couples for dinner on a Saturday night at 8:00pm. Now I realize that Saturday is the busiest day for most restaurants...and that brings me to my first concern. We all met in the "O" bar next to the restaurant for a drink and to wait for our table. We did have to wait a little while for our table (the place was packed) and this was not a problem for us. What I did notice was that the head chef/owner was standing outside the bar talking to another guy. Maybe it's just me, but 8:00pm Saturday with a packed house and other people waited to be seated I would think the chef should be in the kitchen!!!! Even if all the kitchen stations are manned and operating correctly the head chef on a busy night should be checking plates as they go out (don’t forget every plate has his signature on it)!!
OK, so now we sit down at our table. We order a bottle of wine and start looking over the menu. It seems that the Duck breast was the choice of the night. Three of six people and Duck, two had fish and I had the short ribs. At the time of order I did mention to our waitress that I have an extreme allergy to dairy. I also said that I would eat anything as long as it did not have dairy in it. She assured me that nothing I ordered in either my first or second course had any dairy in it.
Well the first course went pretty well.....everyone seemed to enjoy everything (including Bob who suddenly realized that this was a French restaurant....you see he has a slight grudge that they didn't back us in Iraq fiasco!!!!).
We ordered a second bottle of wine before our entrees arrived. A few minutes later the entree's came to the table. This was a disappointment. The Duck was chewy and bland, one of the fish entrees was missing some ingredients and my short ribs resembled the barbeque sandwich at Burger King!!! No bone....perfectly formed little rectangular pieces of meat with no bone (meat is not symmetrical....especially when there is a bone involved)!!!!
I looked around the table and noticed that every single plate looked exactly the same except for the protein. The plate had green beans, you can call them haricot vert if you like - but they are still green beans. And the starch was MASHED POTATOES. Yes, even my plate. The guy with the dairy allergy had creamy, buttery mashed potatoes on his plate. Now I had to ask the waitress if there was dairy in it....just to see what she said. Without flinching she said yes, cream and butter. I ate the meat I could and some of the green beans, making sure not to anything that touched those creamy buttery potatoes.
Needless to say we all expected better....and if we would have left after the app's we would have still pleasant memories of St Tropez. But the entrees looked to me to be massed produced wedding style. Now the green beans were cooked correctly....nobody was impressed with the potatoes ( I wouldn't know). No apology was offered for the dairy guy.
Now I understand that duck can be tough sometimes....and sometimes the cook forgets and ingredient or two when he is busy....and no one reads the note regarding the food allergy.
Maybe we expected to much on a busy Saturday night with the chef out side socializing.
Too bad I really used to like this restaurant....before this I was also planning on trying the new one they opened in New Cannan. I think I will wait on that.
Now I can forgive the French for political differences....but I find it harder to forgive them for uninspired food.....The French have always been known for love, romance, food.....maybe the opening of MacDonald’s in Paris has had an effect!!!! Please prove me wrong.
Did you have problems with the green beans? One of my bitter moments in my short waitressing career, happened when a family ordered a kid's steak meal for their little girl. They specified that she was allergic to dairy. I said no problem. I wrote NO BUTTER (just like that: in capital letters) on the order form for the kitchen. Brought the meal to the table, noting that the customary butter pat was not on the steak. When I check on them a minute or so later, they ask if there is butter on the vegetables. I went back to the kitchen and asked them. They gave me the look that said, "Kid, what rock did you just crawl out from under?" They were drenched in it, because that's the way most restaurants cook them. That's why people apparently eat their veggies in restaurants. I was so mortified because I thought it had been all taken care of.
re: thinks too much
Our family has been a long time fan of St Tropez and I am very surprised by the negative review above. We have never - repeat - NEVER - had anything less than wonderful food and service. I think that a couple of remarks are in order here:
1 - Etienne - the chef/co-owner does make a habit of walking into the dining room (or in this case, in the vicinity of O). I don't think that is any reason for alarm or concern, as many prominent chefs will "work" the room, even at the busiest of times. Remember, even in the most hectic of times, most of the work in the kitchen is done by sous chefs and others. For the chef, it has become more a function of overseeing the cooking than actual hands-on work. I have seen the kitchen staff at St Tropez in action and they are all extremely proficient and talented.
2 - I have had short rib entrees at several "high end" restaurants and, without exception, they have been served boneless. I have had the dish at St Tropez and enjoyed it immensely. While my wife calls it "boy food" (she has a preference for fish and lighter dishes), I thought it was delicious. It might be noted that at what is pretty much recognized as one of the finest restaurants in the state - Ibiza in New Haven - one of their signature dishes is shortribs (boneless!).
I do agree that if special dietary requests are ignored (as in the dairy in the mashed potatoes), there can be no excuses.
We were actually thinking of dining at St Tropez this evening, and if we do, I'll report back!
My wife, son and I had dinner at St. Tropez last night and I am happy to report that, in my opinion, all is well. While they were decidedly not busy (and Etienne, the chef/co-owner was nowhere in sight), each of us had wonderful meals. In fact, one of my perennial favorites, the fish soup, was never better. My softshell crabs - a special - were absolutely delicious, and both my wife's duck and son's short ribs (as discussed above) were up to our expectations.
Again, while I do not understand John V's negative experience, I think it should just be chalked up to a bad night at an otherwise wonderful restaurant.
I am glad that you experience was up to the standards that St Tropez has been in the past. I agree that I may have just hit a bad night. As a rule I shy away from Saturday's as that is the toughest night to get the best service. If the service and the attention to dietary issues were addressed I would have been able to deal with the rest. In due time I would like to try St Tropez again......but there are many other places I will try first. Thanks for the update.....JohnV