My wife and I are treating ourselves to Taillevent for lunch in a few weeks. The questions I have may seem a bit amateur, but I have to admit that this will be our first "haute cuisine" experience.
1- I know that tips are included, but are supplemental tips required? Encouraged? If so, how much, and to who?
2- Would one bottle of wine be enough for a lunch there for two diners? Or should we go with several glasses to match the courses?
Thanks for any replies!
See my post below w/ my lunch review:
It is from the viewpoint of a fairly amateurish first "haute cuisine" experience.
I left 20 euros of extra tip cash (not on the card).
my wife and i had 2 glasses each (champagne and then wine). If i recall correctly the wine was 18 euros a glass.
I lunched at Taillevent two weeks ago, first visit. The lady and I chose the 70 Euro menu, and began with a glass of white wine. There were wines by the glass on the menu, sky's the limit, I recall one listed at 56 Euros per glass, but I asked for something modest, just to get us started. They poured a Vouvray 2003, I forget details, but the temperature was perfect, nice, 13 Euros per glass. The perfect beginning, as we didn't want a cocktail or champagne.
The lady ordered an appetizer of marinated raw salmon and a main of wild hare, a special that day. I chose an appetizer of scrambled egg with lobster and lobster mousse, and the sea scallops. I was expecting a small omelet with chunks of lobster, but it was more like a souffle, very tasty.
The sommelier appeared, and recommended a French red wine in the Pinot Noir family that would compliment our food nicely, he thought. I said ok. He did not mention price, and I didn't ask, trusting him. The wine was very nice, I hope to find some in Chicago and buy a case to have on hand, Taillevent charged 44 Euros.
The bill for lunch, wine, and coffee was 230 Euros. I left an additional 20 Euros, a bit more than necessary. I had done some reading about Taillevent, and noted that the owner, Jean-Claude Vrinat, had been quoted as saying, privately, that some American parties seated at Taillevent can be noisy, rude, and not suitably attired, and we did not want to be included in that group.
I believe that the total bill in US dollars was $384, including the extra tip and a gratuity for the woman who checked our coats. Expensive, but a large part of that is the dollar's poor performance against the Euro in recent years.
Taillevent service was everything it is said to be. The only thing that surprised me was, the sommelier appeared and asked if we would like the red wine poured before the food started to arrive, and also before we had quite finished our glass of white wine. He was a bit early. We told him to wait, and he was glad to.
Also, seated at 12:30 p.m., we were ready for the bill at 2:45, but it did not arrive. Finally, I turned around and nodded at the watchful young man who took over at meal's end, refilling water glasses and bringing coffee. The check immediately arrived. I did not understand that Taillevent does not present l'addition until the customer requests it.
Interestingly, I chatted with one of the captains in the foyer while the lady freshened up in the powder room. He asked where I was from, where I was staying, the usual small talk, and when I mentioned Chicago, he had questions about Charlie Trotter. They keep a close eye on the competion, it seems.
Large cities have too many grand cafes for one ever to visit, especially Paris, but Taillevent was a wonderful experience. One might argue that Savoy, Senderens, Passard, Ducasse, and others do better, I had a wonderful dinner at Michel Rostang a few years ago, but by and large, to a Midwestern hick, all of these places are spectacular, a wonderful experience to celebrate and enjoy. Anyone who has the time and opportunity to try them all, should do so and enjoy.
You're probably right on both counts. I had not considered the possibility that the wine might've needed to breathe for a bit. Also, I was unaware that the check must be requested. In Chicago, the check is often presented promptly, especially if the restaurant is trying to turn the table, and we get used to that, disappointing as it is.
Any misunderstanding is surely on my part, and not a blunder by Mr. Vrinat's staff. I had to smile, because twice, during the lunch, distracted by conversation, my napkin fell off my lap. Each time, a young man appeared immediately with a new one. The reputation for service is well-deserved.
My observations were only that, not complaints, Taillevent was wonderful. Thank you kindly for clarifying.
No additional tip is required and if you pay by credit card, there isn't a place to add one like you find on U.S. credit card slips. You can certainly leave a little extra if you want to do so. 10 or 20 Euros is sufficient.
For a special meal, you might want an aperitif, and then a bottle of wine. A single bottle would certainly be enough for two of you. If you prefer to have wines to match your courses, you can choose that option. I had lunch at Taillevent in February and the sommelier suggested a wonderful wine - not expensive - which my companion and I greatly enjoyed. Here's my recap. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/371059
Enjoy y our lunch!