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Comme Ca? Pourquoi?

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After seeing the feature blurb in LA Magazine this month about Comme Ca, and knowing the stellar reputations, cooking and baking of David and Michelle Myers from Sona and Boule, my girlfriend and I eagerly ventured there for "brunch" this past Saturday. Although some of the favorable notices they may have gotten for dinner might indeed be well deserved, I can say with authority that brunch there was a total disaster -- to such an extent that I would not return for a second try.

We arrived around 1PM to find that what we thought would be lunch was instead "brunch" (which is served only on Saturdays and Sundays). That would not be a problem for us at many restaurants, but here brunch means there is not a salad or piece of fish to be had on the menu. Every dish involved eggs, red meat or cheese, except for their version of french toast. Apparently, that menu is all that is available until 2:30.

Adventurous types that we are, we chose to get with the program and order anyway, notwithstanding we would have preferred other items that are normally available on their lunch menu during the week. We ordered the omelette with fine herbes and the Angus beef hamburger, which I asked be cooked medium well. The waiter asked my girlfriend "Would you like french fries or potatoes with the omelette?" and she picked the french fries. He then asked if she "would like toast or our special English muffin" and she picked the muffin.

Thirty-five minutes later, we had not seen any food at all. What we did notice, to our horror, from our vantage point right next to the cheese counter (which, in all fairness, looked like it included some impressive cheeses) was that there was no "dedicated" person behind the cheese counter preparing cheese plates. Instead, we saw our waiter, without washing his hands after handling his order paid, his pen, plates, glasses (and who knows what else) handling the cheeses with his bare hands! At one point, he needed to put some jam on one plate with particular order, and he pushed the jam off a spoon onto the plate with his fingers.

After almost 40 minutes, our patience was exhausted and we finally asked the waiter where our food was. He replied "Brunch isn't really our strong suit here." The manager came over when he saw us looking around and asked if there was a problem. We said that not being served almost 40 minutes after ordering was definitely a problem. Within another five minutes, my burger arrived not as a I ordered it, but blood rare, along with its fries, as well as my girlfriend's fries and English muffin . . .but no eggs. The waiter came by a few minutes later to report "I'm sorry, but they burned your omelette." The omelette eventually arrived, and we both agreed that even the omelettes at Le Pain Quotidien are much better and much more fairly priced.

When the check arrived, I was a bit surprised to learn that, unlike virtually every other restaurant in the civilized world that asks if you'd like fries or potatoes or toast or an English muffin with your omelette, because those sides come with the eggs, here all of those items are extra! At that point, we had no energy left to complain, so I just paid the check and left . . . never to return. It's very sad, because they just might be a good place for dinner, but their brunch service was so disorganized, and their health standards in the handling of their cheeses (at least on this occasion) so shocking, that it doesn't encourage one to try any other meals there. Perhaps they have a dedicated cheese person for the dinner service, and perhaps the kitchen is more efficient and organized then. We have no intention of finding out.

PLEASE NOTE: The place was packed with people who at least seemed to be enjoying themselves, so our viewpoint might be in the minority.

europhile40

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  1. Wow. Thanks for the report. I was thinking of going there for brunch, but now I will stay away.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrsjoujou

      i went for brunch this saturday at 1pm as well...

      two friends got the croque madame, the bread looked a little thick for my taste and i didnt see any oozy bechamel which i like... but i wasnt offered much of a taste so i cant really comment.

      i got the hamburger, which did indeed taste like the hambuger my mom used to make for me, but with better bread... a large beefy thick puck of a patty...sort of like the pug burger patty... this is not my favorite style... too much beef and gets old eating it... a half a burger would have been enough for me. i am more a fan of the thin patty style at fathers office, but am waiting for the culver city location to open so i dont have to eat with a bunch of douchebags...

      as i was ordering i was informed that the breakfast dishes were a la carte. we were not charged for our bread. i thought the service was fine, and i liked that they accepted reservations for brunch...

    2. Wow! Sounds awful! Thanks for sharing.

      1. Sorry you had such a bad experience there. And that whole everybody handling the cheeses thing is pretty gross, esp the jam from the spoon incident. YUCK.

        But what I don't get is: 1. Did you not look on their website or otherwise check to see about brunch vs. lunch service? 2. When you were perusing the menu, did you not notice that sides were charged separately??

        I've been there for dinner, it was fine, I'm not dying to go back. But they do serve some really great drinks. Love that bar.

        5 Replies
        1. re: slacker

          When a server asks if you'd like potatoes or fries, without clearly specifying that it's a side order, the implication is that the item is included. Compare: "do you want soup or salad?" with "would you like to add a cup of soup or a side salad to your order?"

          It's not too much to expect a server to be competent at his/her job.

          1. re: Jack Flash

            Gotta agree. Asking for the unquoted specials price falls on the diner. Asking whether potatoes or toast are included with the egg dish would make us sound like cheap idiots. If that's their policy, they should make it clear. Or better yet, change it.

            1. re: Jack Flash

              I agree that it's very annoying when the server does that. But as all the sides are charged separately, I'm guessing they are so-listed w/ $ on the menu, and how could you not notice that.

              1. re: slacker

                In fact, if you look at the version of the brunch menu that's posted online, it says no such thing. The list of side orders includes potatoes, as well as bacon, sausage & ham; but then again, you can also find all of those items listed as sides on every coffee shop menu in town. So when a waiter offers you a choice of potato, it's perfectly appropriate to assume they're included, just as they are at hundreds of other places.

                http://www.commecarestaurant.com/uplo...

                The menu should expressly indicate that egg dishes are à la carte, and since it doesn't, it behooves a server to advise the customer so you don't wind up with threads like this on chowhound. Of course, this is a relatively minor point when compared to the whole fingers-in-the-cheese issue. I don't think anyone's suggesting that the menu should include a warning that your cheese selections will be manhandled.

                1. re: Jack Flash

                  I wasn't going to spend the time or energy, but since you posted it... I'm not seeing fries or toast/english muffin listed as sides, so they of course should have listed everything separately that gets charged separately. But they do have a litigation-avoidance warning about undercooked foods. Priorities I guess.

          2. That's not a pleasant experience.

            I went a few weeks ago dinner and thought everything was quite good. First off, I love the bar that offers raw seafood items and the staff really knows how to make classic cocktails i.e. sazerac with real absinthe.

            Almost all of the dishes we ordered we tasty and not overly salted as many have complained about. The duck confit I ordered was just okl kind of dry and was served luke warm. The steak tartar, steak frites and seafood were excellent.

            On my way out, I was watching the guy behind the cheese bar and he offered me a taste of an appetizer he was preparing (I think it was the cheese soup). Nice touch...

            2 Replies
            1. re: vinosnob

              Apparently OP's experience is pretty darn common:
              http://www.tiffanyastone.com/blog1/food/

              myself? wanted to to kill the wait staff after dinner here. a fellow hounder had a great time @ comme ca for brunch, but it seems what he experienced was the exception, not the rule...

              1. re: TonyC

                Lunch yesterday with no complaints.