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Jul 24, 2010 06:36 AM

have u run into this in high end restaurants? (la grenouille in this instance)

Went to La Grenouille last night. Food was fantastic. Went with the lobster ravioli - decadently rich butter sauce - wonderful chunks of lobster - partner had the mushroom risotto - he loved it. We both got the dover sole with mustard sauce - as delicious as everyone says - and we finished with two souffles - I had the pistachio (divine) my partner the chocolate (he loved it - I preferred mine - which makes for a more enjoyable dinner anyway <g>).

My issue - I eat smaller meals throughout the day and I knew it was a lot of food for me (in one sitting) so I only ate about 1/2 my dove sole - When I asked if I could take the remainder home - knowing I had a souffle coming - the table captain - gave a smile and shook his head "no".

Is it the rule at high end restaurants that taking ones uneaten food home is prohibitive? Would a small discreet container disrupt the floral arrangements (which were gorgeous an added a wonderful fragrance to the entire dining experience). I wish I had respectfully pushed the issue - it's Sat. morning and I would love to be looking forward to some sole for lunch. Instead it ended up in some trash can.

La Grenouille
3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

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  1. I have never heard of this.

    1. I think the waiter was just being snotty.
      Of course, there is likely something I don't know about the situation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tripeler

        Well, there turned out to be something I didn't know.
        Still, the waiter should have offered some kind of explanation, using some tact.

      2. I would not ask for a doggie bag in a high end place. I think it's not very appropriate. Not to be a snob, though, but that's how I feel.

        16 Replies
        1. re: grouchomarx

          Curious groucho, why do you think it is inappropriate?

          1. re: debbiel

            I guess I feel that way for the same reasons that restaurants of a certain caliber have dress requirements - it's one of those things that can add to or subtract from the ambience of a very nice place. It would be weird to see people eating at say, Daniel, and carrying out leftovers, wouldn't it? But after reading the resolutio of the story, it makes me think, am I being too uptight?? Maybe!

              1. re: grouchomarx

                Okay. Interesting in that the dress thing can really detract for me, but I don't think the doggie bag would. I think I see it as an issue of not wasting food, and that makes me feel good about people.

                1. re: grouchomarx

                  maybe you could sneak around to the service entrance and they could quietly slip it to you in the dark of night.

                  seriously though, a high class restaurant should be able to find a way to elegantly prepare doggy bags. this seems more like a place that is trying to create an intentional snooty reputation 'our food is too good to allow it to be used as leftovers" bah.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Back in the dark ages, "fancy" places would put the leftovers in a foil pack that they would then shape like a swan :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      hey, i remember those dark ages!

                      last time i ate at the venerable institution in d.c. -- the prime rib -- they did the foil swan for leftovers.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        They do that at the local Commander's Palace as well.

                      2. re: c oliver

                        Actually had that happen recently, in a diner of all places.

                    2. re: grouchomarx

                      My daughter and I had dinner at Babbo in NYC a couple of months ago, and she asked to take home her unfinished pasta dish. The server cleared the table and came back with a small card that looked like a coat check ticket. When we left the restaurant we stopped at the coat check area and picked up her wrapped up leftovers.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        What a great solution. Very classy, too.

                        1. re: grouchomarx

                          I wish I was wealthy enough to throw $100s of dollars worth of food down the garbage shoot.

                          1. re: chazfitzm1

                            It has nothing to do with wealth. Waste is the word.

                      2. re: grouchomarx

                        I had a birthday dinner at Jean-Georges and the waiter noticed that I had not finished my meal and he offered to wrap it up for me.
                        I was hugely impressed that they do not bring the bag to the table, they actually hold it for you and someone hands you the bag litterally just as you are exiting the restaurant!

                        Now that is class!

                      3. Totally unacceptable in my book. I would have complained to the manager.

                        1. I just called La Grenouille - thanks to my fellow chowhounders confirming this was a bit unorthodox. Thank Buddha I did. I talked with a manager and feel 100% better about it. It was explained to me that the restaurant lost an arbitration where a diner took home some fish and then got sick - it was deemed since their license was not a caterer they were liable. And given yesterday was so hot there were uncomfortable with diners taking home fish. I really do feel so much better for asking. It was a very pleasant conversation and more importantly - I really like La Grenouille and now look forward to going back.

                          La Grenouille
                          3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                          20 Replies
                          1. re: calconscious

                            Good job, this makes perfect sense now that it was fully explained.

                            1. re: bookhound

                              It does, but shouldnt the waiter have attempted some explanation?

                              Though perhaps hearing someone got food poisening from them might not be the best thing to hear after having just eaten there....
                              but still there must be something tactful to say in that instance...

                            2. re: calconscious

                              Are all restaurants in New York that do takeout in addition to dine-in required to have a catering licence? That seems a little unusual, I think they should have got a better lawyer.

                              That said, if you weren't in a position put it in the fridge right away I agree it was probably safer not to take it home.

                              1. re: calconscious

                                so, if you had asked to take home the mushroom risotto it would have been fine? Or not?

                                If they really can't allow any take out because they don't have a catering license, than it is completely irrelevant whether it was fish or not. In that regard, it is highly unlikely that the person complaining could present good evidence that it was the fish that made them sick, or even if it was, that it was the restaurant's fault: person could have left the fish in the trunk of their car. In other words, if their license won't allow take out, the type of food doesn't matter: either you can take something home, or you can't.

                                So, it still sounds a little unusual to me, but then arbitration sounds a little unusual too (as for the not-so-good lawyer, it is quite possible in an arbitration that there wasn't a lawyer). Sorry, but while I am no expert on food law in NY I am a little skeptical of the restaurant's answer. I also think it is not unusual for a restaurant to use liability as a reason when they are up against a wall and don't want to admit someone screwed up.

                                All that said, as I say, I am no expert. Moreover, it does sound like you ordered rather rich (but delicious!) dishes. Had it been me, I would have thanked the manager for the information, and tell him that based on that and the serving size, you will plan to share one entree next time. Would be interesting to see how the server reacted to that as a solution.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  Yeah, that explanation sounds totally contrived, if not bogus, to me.

                                  What about all those pizza joints? What if I order food to go?

                                  Not to get too technical or legal on this, but if a diner were to ask for a partially eaten meal to be packaged and eaten later on at home, I would assume the doctrine of assumption of the risk would apply -- e.g., in other words the diner assumes any risk from eating the leftovers. Just as well, the "average reasonable person" would be expected to know how to heat up leftover foods, and to discard spoiled ones. And finally, after taking the food out of the restaurant and home, the chain of causation would be broken.

                                  So, to summarize, there is (1) no duty by the restaurant in this instance; (2) and even if there were any duty, there is no proxiimate cause between the restaurant's preparation in the food and any potential food sickness; and finally even if there were such a duty and causation was somehow established, the affirmative defense of "assumption of the risk" would apply.

                                  Just random musings on a Saturday afternoon ... :-)

                                2. re: calconscious

                                  the server could easily have explained this at the time.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      IF that's the true story, you're spot-on, alkapal.
                                      I've thought about this the past few days, and really think it may be a snow job- sounds good but smells bad, like seafood gone bad. :-)

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        I'm 100% convinced that it's a bs made-up story.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            OK, who will be the first to visit La G. ask for a doggie bag, call them out on their story, then report back? Inquiring minds want to know.....

                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                              patticakes, we used to have a "team" to take care of problems like this, and it involved beach chick, yaya dave, c oliver, linda whit and myself.

                                              a certain item of sporting equipment was featured in our repertoire of negotiating techniques. ;-). <no, no, not THIS kind of bat: >. <..or MAYbe it is...... (since he's already there in new york) >.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                Wow, I hadn't thought of that thread in a long time. I DO believe that being "proactice" as they say has at the very least great therapeutic benefits.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  there were some great lines in that thread. i liked "mooch and hooch" as the perpetrators' names. i wonder how it has turned out longer-term for janet from richmond....

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Yeah, I think we need an update.

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      I reread basically all of it. I must say I'm a fan of the c oliver as Bruno slash and burn take no prisoners this conversation is over approach.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        If we could change our screen names like we can our avatars, I would definitely include Bruno.

                                                  2. re: alkapal

                                                    Oh, I had forgotten about the M & H thread! That was one my all-time faves, although I was a lurker & not a participant. Seeing Sam's posts, especially the poem, did bring me up a little short, however (in "bless-his-heart-we-do-miss-you" good way).

                                                    Beware of chowzers armed with Slap-chops!

                                        1. re: calconscious

                                          That makes sense, although it's another example of how Lawyer's are ruining the world.

                                          1. re: chazfitzm1

                                            lawyers do not make the laws. nor are they the ones doing the suing.

                                            i want lawyers to do my maw work like i want doctors to do my medical work.

                                            it's what theyre for