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

calconscious Jul 24, 2010 06:36 AM

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. g
    gutsofsteel RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 06:55 AM

    I have never heard of this.

    1. Tripeler RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 07:02 AM

      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
        Tripeler RE: Tripeler Jul 24, 2010 07:26 PM

        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. g
        grouchomarx RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 07:13 AM

        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
          debbiel RE: grouchomarx Jul 24, 2010 07:22 PM

          Curious groucho, why do you think it is inappropriate?

          1. re: debbiel
            grouchomarx RE: debbiel Jul 26, 2010 12:40 PM

            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
              c oliver RE: grouchomarx Jul 27, 2010 11:52 AM


              1. re: grouchomarx
                debbiel RE: grouchomarx Jul 27, 2010 03:20 PM

                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
                  KaimukiMan RE: grouchomarx Jul 27, 2010 03:50 PM

                  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
                    c oliver RE: KaimukiMan Jul 27, 2010 04:34 PM

                    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
                      alkapal RE: c oliver Jul 27, 2010 05:42 PM

                      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
                        beachmouse RE: alkapal Jul 30, 2010 11:23 AM

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

                      2. re: c oliver
                        Jasz RE: c oliver Jul 27, 2010 07:35 PM

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

                        1. re: Jasz
                          EWSflash RE: Jasz Jul 28, 2010 08:40 AM

                          I love it.

                    2. re: grouchomarx
                      CindyJ RE: grouchomarx Jul 28, 2010 07:43 PM

                      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
                        Tripeler RE: CindyJ Jul 28, 2010 07:56 PM

                        What a great solution. Very classy, too.

                        1. re: CindyJ
                          grouchomarx RE: CindyJ Jul 30, 2010 10:51 AM

                          That's brilliant!

                        2. re: grouchomarx
                          chazfitzm1 RE: grouchomarx Aug 15, 2010 09:18 PM

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

                          1. re: chazfitzm1
                            c oliver RE: chazfitzm1 Aug 21, 2010 07:18 AM

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

                      2. re: grouchomarx
                        NellyNel RE: grouchomarx Aug 23, 2010 12:23 PM

                        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. GroovinGourmet RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 07:21 AM

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

                        1. c
                          calconscious RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 07:35 AM

                          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
                            bookhound RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 07:48 AM

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

                            1. re: bookhound
                              NellyNel RE: bookhound Aug 23, 2010 12:27 PM

                              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
                              hsk RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 08:42 AM

                              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
                                susancinsf RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 10:46 AM

                                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
                                  ipsedixit RE: susancinsf Jul 24, 2010 03:05 PM

                                  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
                                  HDinCentralME RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 06:04 PM

                                  the server could easily have explained this at the time.

                                  1. re: calconscious
                                    alkapal RE: calconscious Jul 27, 2010 05:43 PM

                                    crummy lawyer. dumb arbitrator.

                                    1. re: alkapal
                                      EWSflash RE: alkapal Jul 28, 2010 08:45 AM

                                      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
                                        buttertart RE: EWSflash Jul 28, 2010 08:48 AM

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

                                        1. re: buttertart
                                          alkapal RE: buttertart Jul 28, 2010 12:27 PM

                                          yep == a spin job!

                                          1. re: alkapal
                                            PattiCakes RE: alkapal Jul 30, 2010 10:12 AM

                                            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
                                              alkapal RE: PattiCakes Aug 1, 2010 05:50 AM

                                              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. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/589079

                                              a certain item of sporting equipment was featured in our repertoire of negotiating techniques. ;-). <no, no, not THIS kind of bat: http://www.clevescene.com/images/blog... >. <..or MAYbe it is...... (since he's already there in new york) http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/ht_bat... >.

                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                c oliver RE: alkapal Aug 1, 2010 07:55 AM

                                                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
                                                  alkapal RE: c oliver Aug 2, 2010 01:58 AM

                                                  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
                                                    c oliver RE: alkapal Aug 2, 2010 07:33 AM

                                                    Yeah, I think we need an update.

                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                      buttertart RE: alkapal Aug 2, 2010 09:27 AM

                                                      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
                                                        c oliver RE: buttertart Aug 2, 2010 10:52 AM

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

                                                  2. re: alkapal
                                                    PattiCakes RE: alkapal Aug 2, 2010 09:16 AM

                                                    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!

                                        2. re: calconscious
                                          chazfitzm1 RE: calconscious Aug 15, 2010 09:19 PM

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

                                          1. re: chazfitzm1
                                            thew RE: chazfitzm1 Aug 16, 2010 08:24 AM

                                            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

                                        3. h
                                          Harters RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 09:28 AM

                                          I've never come across this - but then, in Europe, it's not our custom to ever take away uneaten food.

                                          18 Replies
                                          1. re: Harters
                                            KaimukiMan RE: Harters Jul 24, 2010 06:43 PM

                                            in europe you tend to have more reasonably sized servings

                                            1. re: Harters
                                              PeterL RE: Harters Jul 25, 2010 10:27 AM

                                              Europe is a big place. It's not a custom for all of Europe to take away leftover? That's news to me.

                                              1. re: PeterL
                                                Harters RE: PeterL Jul 25, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                I can, of course, only speak about those countries where I have a reasonable experience of restaurant dining and can be confident in saying that it is not the usual custom. These would be Belgium, Cyprus,France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland & United KIngdom.

                                                I'd be interested to know of other European countries where the usual custom is to follow the North American pattern of regularly taking away leftovers.

                                                1. re: Harters
                                                  PeterL RE: Harters Jul 25, 2010 01:45 PM

                                                  I have never had any trouble having left overs bagged to go in "Europe". That's not saying it's different from what you said. I have no idea whether it's a custom or not.

                                                  1. re: PeterL
                                                    Harters RE: PeterL Jul 25, 2010 02:42 PM

                                                    Ah. Thanks for the clarification. FWIW, whilst I've often seen leftovers being taken away in America, I've never seen it in the countries I mentioned which is why I assume that it is not the custom there. I don't make the assumption for the UK, which is where I live - it isnt the custom here and asking for food to be bagged would get you some very strange looks. Of course, politeness would mean that a place would probably do it if a foreigner, unused to our way, asked for it.

                                                    1. re: Harters
                                                      smartie RE: Harters Jul 25, 2010 07:28 PM

                                                      I agree with you Harters, it would be a very strange request to take home leftovers in the UK. I am not saying people don't do it but most restaurants would not even have the containers to wrap leftovers in. Whenever I used to ask to take the bone or leftover meat home for my dog it would be wrapped in some foil.
                                                      Brits and other Europeans do not ask for doggie bags. If you don't finish your food you just leave it. Of course portions are not as big as in the USA.

                                                      1. re: smartie
                                                        Lizard RE: smartie Jul 26, 2010 10:59 PM

                                                        It's definitely been a while since you've been here in the UK, then. I think portions seem massive-- and it seems to be a relatively widespread phenomenon (like me-- after eating said portions).

                                                        Also interesting is that I was recently at a restaurant where they offered to box up my left overs. I wasn't expecting that, but can't say I was bothered.

                                                        1. re: Lizard
                                                          Harters RE: Lizard Jul 27, 2010 05:11 AM

                                                          You seem to have a different UK experience than I do, Lizard.

                                                          1. re: Harters
                                                            Lizard RE: Harters Jul 27, 2010 08:08 AM

                                                            Or a different sense of portion size!

                                                            1. re: Lizard
                                                              Harters RE: Lizard Jul 27, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                              Ah yes, perhaps that. I don't think I've ever been defeated by a plate - even in America.

                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                buttertart RE: Harters Jul 27, 2010 08:25 AM

                                                                What I don't get is Americans saying portion size in France is small. I generally get far more than I can eat even thought I would very much like to.

                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                  grouchomarx RE: buttertart Jul 27, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                  Portions are not so small in France. I've had several meals I couldn't finish. And they put butter on everything (even sandwiches, which is very strange to me).

                                                                  1. re: grouchomarx
                                                                    buttertart RE: grouchomarx Jul 27, 2010 08:30 AM

                                                                    I never knew anyone who put mayonnaise on sandwiches until I came to the US (from Canada). Butter only. Not that that has anything to do with la Grenouille.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                      Harters RE: buttertart Jul 27, 2010 09:33 AM

                                                                      Mayo on sandwiches is certainly a recentish thing in the UK. Was always butter and still usually is. Although I often follow Spanish sandwich making practice and just drizzle the bread with olive oil.

                                                                    2. re: grouchomarx
                                                                      debbiel RE: grouchomarx Jul 27, 2010 03:21 PM

                                                                      Mmm...butter on sandwiches. My great grandfather taught me that one. Butter and bologna. Butter and jam. Butter and tomatoes. Butter and roast beef. Butter and egg salad.

                                                                    3. re: buttertart
                                                                      linguafood RE: buttertart Aug 2, 2010 03:04 AM

                                                                      Yep. That's the good ol' butterbrot for ya. My mom absolutely *hates* butter, so she will always ask whether there is butter on the sandwich.

                                                                      Seems like the general trend is moving towards remoulade-type sauces or mayo, tho. I prefer mayo over butter on a sammie, too.

                                                      2. re: Harters
                                                        NellyNel RE: Harters Aug 23, 2010 12:31 PM

                                                        I worked in a wonderful Thai place in England. The meals were served family style and the portions were huge.
                                                        No one ever asked for the remains - which was great for the staff because we ate like kings all night every night. (we ate off the platters, not individual plates!!!)

                                                        As a matter of fact - whenever Americans came is - some wait staff would inevitably say : "Betcha they ask for a doggy bag!!!" It was a running joke.
                                                        ..And sure enough they always DID!

                                                        1. re: NellyNel
                                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: NellyNel Aug 23, 2010 12:35 PM

                                                          It is the American way.

                                                  2. Karl S RE: calconscious Jul 24, 2010 01:08 PM

                                                    It would never occur to me to try to take home uneaten fish, regardless of venue, just because it can spoil so quickly, it's just not worth the bother.

                                                    17 Replies
                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                      greygarious RE: Karl S Jul 26, 2010 02:05 PM

                                                      Is cooked fish is any more perishable than another cooked meat? I have never thought so but would be interested in the opinion of someone with seafood restaurant expertise. I would have insisted on taking the leftovers home and assured the place that I would not be returning. Loudly, if necessary. What if I had just started my meal and received an emergency phone call from the babysitter or an invalid relative? Would they expect me to pay for the meal I was leaving behind? If so, they had better pack it up for me, and pronto.

                                                      Re the baggie post below - I do keep one in my purse, just like mom did. But I am more discreet about employing it than she was. There is an Asian buffet near me which sometimes has miniature curry puffs that I like a lot. Most diners there make a trip to the buffet for appetizers, then go back for mains and sides. I make only one trip so I don't feel I am cheating the place by putting extra puffs on my plate and slipping them into my bag after making sure I am not observed.

                                                      1. re: greygarious
                                                        EWSflash RE: greygarious Jul 28, 2010 08:47 AM

                                                        Not to make a big flap about it, but isn't that defined as stealing?

                                                        1. re: greygarious
                                                          chow_gal RE: greygarious Jul 30, 2010 01:43 PM

                                                          Tacky on both counts: carrying a bag and slipping leftovers in it at the table (!) and STEALING (yes!) curry puffs for later. Buffets are not to be carried off the premises no matter how you rationalize it.

                                                          1. re: chow_gal
                                                            buttertart RE: chow_gal Jul 30, 2010 01:50 PM

                                                            This is a tad harsh if the person doing it as noted has only one single plate from the buffet and others are scarfing up multiple plates, isn't it? It's not as if greygarious was going up five times and doing this on top of it. I don't consider it stealing. But I don't see the world as black and white either.

                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                              chow_gal RE: buttertart Jul 30, 2010 01:53 PM

                                                              I guess you're right. It wasn't the stealing as much as the overt tackiness the post described. Some things in life should remain a bit gracious, though I do acknowledge I am very fortunate to not be on a fixed income or strict budget as some are. (not saying grey is)

                                                              1. re: chow_gal
                                                                buttertart RE: chow_gal Jul 30, 2010 02:02 PM

                                                                Not tacky if done discreetly. I am sure graygarious operates at the same gracious level as his/her posts.

                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                  greygarious RE: buttertart Jul 30, 2010 02:36 PM

                                                                  Thanks, buttertart. As already mentioned, I am careful not to be overt about putting the puffs into the sandwich-sized baggie in my purse. The amount is less than many diners leave uneaten on their buffet plates. If this place had curry puffs on their regular menu I would order them. They don't offer them except, on occasion, at their buffet. And there's always a baggie in my purse. They come in handy for any unfinished drive-thru or other snacks on the fly, like the unused half of the individual cream cheese containers they give you at bagel shops. One person's tacky is another's frugal.

                                                                  1. re: greygarious
                                                                    Sisyphus RE: greygarious Aug 1, 2010 08:04 AM

                                                                    Have you ever inquired about the cost or availability of a to go order of the puffs?

                                                                    1. re: Sisyphus
                                                                      iluvtennis RE: Sisyphus Aug 26, 2010 04:32 PM

                                                                      +1 I think you should consider asking about that...you may think it's okay to take a little extra since you aren't eating as much as other people you see, but that's kind of how buffets work. Some people eat more than they probably paid, others less. If you don't have a huge appetite, that still doesn't mean it is okay to pay an all you can eat (on the premises, right?) price and then take a bag for a couple extra items to eat later. Yeah, it isn't a huge deal or a large amount of money we're talking about here, but i still don't think it is right.

                                                                2. re: chow_gal
                                                                  c oliver RE: chow_gal Jul 30, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                                  Okay, now this second post is annoying. Who said money or the lack thereof had anything to do with it? She likes the curry puffs, is barely there in terms of what she takes and takes a few with her. Better than lots of the people I see passing buffets (rarely eat at them).

                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                    chow_gal RE: c oliver Jul 30, 2010 04:21 PM

                                                                    Hey - it's tacky. My opinion. TACKY. Sometimes one just goes without.

                                                                3. re: buttertart
                                                                  Harters RE: buttertart Aug 1, 2010 06:02 AM

                                                                  I certainly wouldnt regard this as stealing - although possibly the place would be less than thrilled. Buffets in my part of the world tend to have signs saying food is for consumption *on" the premises. Have to say that, personally, I have no need of the signs to tell that's right.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                    haggisdragon RE: buttertart Aug 1, 2010 08:06 AM

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

                                                                    Sounds pretty black and white. ;)

                                                                    1. re: haggisdragon
                                                                      buttertart RE: haggisdragon Aug 1, 2010 10:08 AM

                                                                      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                                        haggisdragon RE: buttertart Aug 1, 2010 09:44 PM

                                                                        ...Adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

                                                                        1. re: haggisdragon
                                                                          buttertart RE: haggisdragon Aug 2, 2010 09:25 AM

                                                                          A useful out in situations like these. Thanks, RWE!

                                                              2. re: Karl S
                                                                alkapal RE: Karl S Jul 27, 2010 05:48 PM

                                                                i've taken home grilled salmon without a problem, then made a nice flaky fish salad the next day.

                                                                i'd probably say cooked fish is more perishable than, say, a piece of prime rib. i figure that it is more perishable before it is cooked, and therefore after it is cooked. that is assuming equal and relatively prompt refrigeration.

                                                              3. m
                                                                Mestralle RE: calconscious Jul 25, 2010 09:54 AM

                                                                I agree that the explanation sounds contrived. I've never heard of a restaurant disallowing doggie bags, and I bring food home on a very regular basis (except if I'm traveling with no means of refrigeration and/or heating). I hate to see food go to waste, and I just don't eat very much in a given sitting.

                                                                As an attorney myself, it doesn't strike me as terribly improbable to find an idiotic judge/arbitrator, nor does it seem impossible that there are weird license laws in various jurisdictions. However, as was mentioned before, I would think it's an all-or-nothing thing: Either you can take it home, or you can't, not that you an bring it home unless it's fish on a hot day.

                                                                Frankly, I'd be upset if half of a meal I ordered and paid for was wasted. Dover sole ain't cheap, and times are tough. At the very least, I would expect advance notice that all food must be consumed on the premises. Moreover, it seems as if a repeat of their claimed problem could be avoided with a roll of pre-printed "warning" label like they have at many grocery stores.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Mestralle
                                                                  ipsedixit RE: Mestralle Jul 25, 2010 10:37 AM

                                                                  "Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that our food, when removed from the premises, may be hazardous to your health."

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                    EWSflash RE: ipsedixit Jul 28, 2010 08:48 AM


                                                                2. buttertart RE: calconscious Jul 26, 2010 12:38 PM

                                                                  The same thing happened to us the one and only time we ate there (in the early '90s, on a cold night, and it was meat, 3/4 of my main course) so the arbitration trumped-up or not must date back a long way...
                                                                  I wrote to the restaurant (no one much had email at the time) to inquire why and they wrote back to say (snottily) that they didn't do it because of liability issues and that basically by asking for it I had shown myself not to be the sort of patron they were interested in serving.
                                                                  Will not go back, there are too many restaurants in the city with less attitude. Have never had a request to pack anything up refused elsewhere, not that I make a habit of this in high-end places.

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                    PattiCakes RE: buttertart Jul 26, 2010 01:31 PM

                                                                    Or you can be like me sainted mother who was not above putting leftovers in a plasic baggie secreted in her purse. God rest he soul.

                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes
                                                                      buttertart RE: PattiCakes Jul 26, 2010 01:35 PM

                                                                      Had I known the biggest part of a pricy veal chop was otherwise going in the trash I surely would have.

                                                                    2. re: buttertart
                                                                      alkapal RE: buttertart Jul 27, 2010 05:54 PM

                                                                      """they wrote back to say (snottily) that they didn't do it because of liability issues and that basically by asking for it I had shown myself not to be the sort of patron they were interested in serving. """

                                                                      aaah, the truth comes out -- they don't like the IDEA of a doggy bag! the truth wasn't the phony "story" about some "arbitration."

                                                                      frogs they are, indeed! <i take that back. it is an insult to frogs.>

                                                                      from their site:
                                                                      """The restaurant opened its doors on December 19th, 1962 on a quiet night in the midst of a snowstorm.
                                                                      From the first day there were flowers, just a few roses here and there, but few as they were, this was to be the birth of a tradition.
                                                                      La Grenouille serves classic French cuisine and spontaneous creations in a glowing setting that many consider home."""
                                                                      "...and NOT classic French cuisine and spontaneous creations that you may actually TAKE home after paying some serious money."

                                                                      1. re: alkapal
                                                                        buttertart RE: alkapal Jul 28, 2010 06:02 AM

                                                                        It, like many other restaurants in the city (and other cities of course), is a de facto canteen for the rich. I'm sure if the owners are reading this exchange they think: "and well rid of her, too".
                                                                        The phenomenon of the "canteen" was addressed by Sam Sifton, the much reviled but interesting present restaurant critic of the NYT, in a review of a restaurant where indifferent food commands premium prices and which is essentially a clubhouse for the well-heeled. Am not implying that the food at la G isn't good by any manner of means, but let's just say that the welcome to unknowns there is considerably frostier than it need be. (We walked into Taillevent in Paris around the same time and were welcomed warmly and without a trace of snobbishness, and cossetted throughout the meal.)
                                                                        At la G we withnessed waiters obviously favoring some tables over others, rushing to the table beside ours (previously occupied by some other "riffraff", two young Wall Street types) and grabbing the check wallet to make sure they had been tipped, etc etc. Mentioned this in the letter to the owner and was told back flat out such things NEVER happen in the restaurant. Oh yeah?
                                                                        PS those swans were le comble de l'élégance at the time, weren't they?

                                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                                          greygarious RE: buttertart Jul 28, 2010 07:18 AM

                                                                          I still see the swans on occasion. Most often it's a chinese take-out style white paper container or a plastic one. A high-end Chinese restaurant that is one of my favorites puts the paper containers into a small brown bag with a raffia handle. No reason why a shmantzy place couldn't have a glossy, logo-bedecked bag in this style. That would look no different from the gift bags that are often seen atop tables when they are occupied by diners who are there to celebrate birthdays or other special occasions.

                                                                          1. re: greygarious
                                                                            buttertart RE: greygarious Jul 28, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                                            Chanterelle (now defunct, was a very nice place) did, I still have one. Looks like a Bulgari jewelry bag. Hell, even Per Se has them. Jackets required or no, you bought the damn food, you should be able to take it with you in a decorous manner should you so desire.

                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                              buttertart RE: buttertart Jul 28, 2010 07:51 AM

                                                                              Plus the bags are advertising for the restaurant...maybe that's why, they'd attract the wrong element!

                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                Karl S RE: buttertart Jul 28, 2010 07:54 AM

                                                                                Some restaurants apparently have customers the way Cleveland Amory memorably recounted Boston Brahmin matrons replying "We have our hats.” in reply to a question asking where they got their hats. (in other words: "We don't *get* no stinkin' hats, because we already have them, from our mothers and grandmothers," et cet.)

                                                                                1. re: Karl S
                                                                                  buttertart RE: Karl S Jul 28, 2010 08:23 AM

                                                                                  Very very true.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                                                    c oliver RE: Karl S Jul 28, 2010 08:25 AM

                                                                                    As an acquaintance of mine once said "I feel sorry for so-and-so; she had to BUY her silver" because of course one should inherit it :)

                                                                                2. re: buttertart
                                                                                  BobB RE: buttertart Jul 28, 2010 09:37 AM

                                                                                  Reminds me of a now-defunct restaurant near Boston called Eat. Their doggie bags said Ate.

                                                                                3. re: greygarious
                                                                                  ggom1 RE: greygarious Jul 28, 2010 07:53 PM

                                                                                  I overstuffed myself at Eleven Madison Park and asked for my macarons to be packed up and they came in the prettiest box - if I had known their carryout boxes were so nice I would have asked for an extra one lol. Not sure what their packaging looks like for anything more substantial, but I've read lots of stories of people getting leftovers packed up from there.

                                                                                4. re: buttertart
                                                                                  im_nomad RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 07:30 AM

                                                                                  That bugs me. I wrote about a somewhat similar experience a couple of months ago, whereby people were not only favoring, but ignoring the hideous behavior of a table, who they appeared to know.

                                                                                  Maybe it's just me, but I think a restaurant should most definitely remember it's regular patrons, but should treat everyone that comes through their doors as a favored diner. You should never be treated as though they can't wait to get you out of there (unless, of course, you're being an idiot)

                                                                                  I wonder what they do if a particularly high-end client wanted a "to-go" meal ? (not leftovers)

                                                                                  1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                    kpaxonite RE: im_nomad Aug 16, 2010 07:39 AM

                                                                                    Ive had high end restaurants make me a meal for take out in the past. It was weird asking if they could do it but they seemed perfectly happy and , as you should I gave a full tip to the waitress.

                                                                            2. f
                                                                              Fahzz RE: calconscious Jul 26, 2010 04:44 PM

                                                                              My story on this subject: I was in a critically acclaimed restaurant, (you know, the kind where the chef doesn't trust the customers with salt and pepper shakers). Any way the foursome seated next to us, who had just dropped a few hundred on their meal, had to leave in a hurry due to a babysitting problem. The flustered Mom asked if they could get their pre-ordered desserts "to go".
                                                                              The response, and this is a direct quote: " We can't do that-Chef thinks that the desserts will SUFFER". I don't know if that means the pie would experience physical pain, or Chef's sterling reputation might somehow be damaged, but I giggle every time I think of it.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Fahzz
                                                                                buttertart RE: Fahzz Jul 26, 2010 04:46 PM

                                                                                Pretension knows no bounds.

                                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                                  aggiecat RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 09:01 AM

                                                                                  Yes, and we all know what the conversion rate on pretension is...

                                                                                  1. re: aggiecat
                                                                                    alkapal RE: aggiecat Aug 21, 2010 06:11 AM

                                                                                    what, is this a "netflix" ad? if so, the answer is "baba ghannouj."

                                                                                2. re: Fahzz
                                                                                  grouchomarx RE: Fahzz Jul 26, 2010 07:03 PM

                                                                                  that is a really funny story! how could anybody say that with a straight face??!!

                                                                                  1. re: Fahzz
                                                                                    babette feasts RE: Fahzz Jul 27, 2010 05:14 PM

                                                                                    It does sound silly, but in truth some things just don't travel well. You really don't want creme brulee scooped out of the ramekin and slopped into a to-go box, delicate mousses tend to melt at room temperature, etc. Things do suffer in presentation no matter how nicely you try to box it. On the other hand, they should have been able to send that party home with SOMETHING, even just a few petit fours.

                                                                                  2. a
                                                                                    appleannie RE: calconscious Jul 27, 2010 11:59 AM

                                                                                    Most restaurants in NYC participate in City Harvest, where leftover food is collected and delivered to homeless shelters and soup kitchens.... so maybe your Dover sole didn't end up in the trash - if that makes you feel any better!

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: appleannie
                                                                                      bookhound RE: appleannie Jul 27, 2010 12:04 PM

                                                                                      City Harvest does not take food that has been partially consumed by another person. They have very high standards to what they will and will not take and left-overs are a definite no-no.


                                                                                      1. re: bookhound
                                                                                        alkapal RE: bookhound Jul 27, 2010 05:57 PM

                                                                                        seriously ! -- "hey homeless guy, here's some leftover fish. ya want it?"

                                                                                    2. b
                                                                                      beevod RE: calconscious Jul 28, 2010 08:32 AM

                                                                                      Perhaps the waiter was feeling peckish.

                                                                                      1. Chemicalkinetics RE: calconscious Jul 28, 2010 07:16 PM

                                                                                        This is pretty stupid experience.

                                                                                        1. DuchessNukem RE: calconscious Aug 10, 2010 01:36 AM

                                                                                          Ahhhh, geez. I absolutely hate, HATE wasting food. Honestly, it's a ridiculous idea to trash edibles. I'm very skilled in RFHR (Restaurant Food Home Resuscitation).

                                                                                          I'm not impressed by the idea that anyone's cuisine is so incredible and ephemeral that it must be consumed within 13 minutes of production or else be discarded. The expectations for purchased food shouldn't be any different for high-end restaurants.

                                                                                          Oh, and, p.s. for babette -- sloppy broken creme brulee is actually still terrific shared from a plastic takeaway container in front of TV (best with Law and Order). :)

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem
                                                                                            alkapal RE: DuchessNukem Aug 10, 2010 05:27 AM

                                                                                            love the screen name. how is the duke?

                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                            chazfitzm1 RE: calconscious Aug 15, 2010 09:15 PM

                                                                                            That did happen to me once, at an inexpensive Indian place in NYC. The waiter, who had just finished cursing out another table, (about God knows what), said "we don't do that, and I replied, then I don't tip. It was probably only the second or third time I've stiiffed a waiter in my life. I would recommend sitting there until your hungry again, even if it takes until the next morning.

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: chazfitzm1
                                                                                              Chemicalkinetics RE: chazfitzm1 Aug 15, 2010 10:45 PM

                                                                                              Agree. It is important to make a point. If they won't let you take the food home, then you don't leave the table.

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                buttertart RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 06:25 AM

                                                                                                I have a strong feeling that you might be escorted out on the arm of the NYPD were you to try that at La G.

                                                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                                                  Maybe it will make it to local news maybe. On the other hand, what ground do they have to escort a customer our when the customer has not finished the food. Stay until the restaurant is closed. Since the customer is not allowed to take his food out, can he stay there to finish the food he ordered? Maybe it will take him two hours, maybe four hours.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                    bookhound RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 08:18 AM

                                                                                                    Who would you be punishing by sitting in a restaurant after you've finished dining watching the sauce on your food coagulate, the restaurant or yourself?

                                                                                                    1. re: bookhound
                                                                                                      kpaxonite RE: bookhound Aug 16, 2010 08:26 AM

                                                                                                      Depends how busy the restaurant is.

                                                                                                      1. re: bookhound
                                                                                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: bookhound Aug 16, 2010 08:28 AM

                                                                                                        If you are thinking about "punishment" then you are thinking in the wrong direction. You need to think long term and global. It is for the good for humanity. It is a movement. It is a statement. Why do students handcuff themselves to buildings? Why do people participate food eating contest? Would the student actually able to stop anything by handcuffing themselves? Almost always no. Do people need to eat until they throw up? Definitely no.

                                                                                                        Nevertheless, they are about expression of mind and soul.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                          bookhound RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 08:34 AM

                                                                                                          I go to restaurants to have a good time and enjoy the food. If they have policies I don't agree with I don't go to that restaurant. Staying at a restaurant until they closed because they won't wrap up my food is something a petulant child would do. It wouldn't futher "good for humanity" one iota.

                                                                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                    kpaxonite RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 06:51 AM

                                                                                                    I would get up and go to the corner store buy a plastic bag and put my food in it before I handcuffed myself to the table........

                                                                                                    PS the only time a restaurant should refuse a doggy bag is if its a buffet.

                                                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: kpaxonite Aug 16, 2010 07:41 AM

                                                                                                      Some people reallyy do that when I were in my graduate school. I should know. I went to UC Berkeley. :)

                                                                                                      On the other hand, if you have already put the food in a plastic bag, why not just run out the restaurant with it?

                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                        kpaxonite RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 07:42 AM

                                                                                                        The plastic bags or the handcuffs? lol

                                                                                                2. b
                                                                                                  bakersdelight RE: calconscious Aug 16, 2010 06:28 AM

                                                                                                  some restaurants are set up to provide for take-out and some aren't. it's pretty clear which way the establishment skews at the outset, so your request was out of line. sorry. the people in the kitchen are already knocking themselves out for far less money than you'd think.

                                                                                                  1. k
                                                                                                    kpaxonite RE: calconscious Aug 16, 2010 06:39 AM

                                                                                                    It depends how high end it is.

                                                                                                    I think its similar to asking for the cork of a half finished bottle of wine so you can take it home.

                                                                                                    If its super high end you they should make it possible but would probably be a bit taken aback.##

                                                                                                    22 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                      buttertart RE: kpaxonite Aug 16, 2010 06:45 AM

                                                                                                      It's legal to take the wine home in NY if it's corked and placed in a transparent plastic bag by the restaurant, I've heard.

                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                        kpaxonite RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                                                                        Its legal in quebec too (but maybe not to have in your car if you drive home....); I was just pointing out that although people do it, many would probably leave a couple glasses of wine behind because they feel awkward about asking to take it home.

                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 07:43 AM

                                                                                                          Are you sure about the "transparent plastic bag"? I would think it should be "opaque"

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                            buttertart RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 07:46 AM

                                                                                                            I think I read transparent - and it struck me as very odd too.

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                              kpaxonite RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 07:51 AM

                                                                                                              Random fact: since the liquor commission of quebec (the only place to buy wine and liquor) stopped giving out free bags last year, the gov passed a law allowing people to carry bottles anywhere without a bag.

                                                                                                              1. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                                buttertart RE: kpaxonite Aug 16, 2010 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                Wow, that's a change. I grew up with the LCBO and their stringent rules (brown paper bags etc).

                                                                                                              2. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                Then, this will be very strange.

                                                                                                                Let's say the restaurant requires you to take the wine out with a "transparent/see through" plastic bags, while the city law or state law requires you to use opaque and brown paper bags. What do you do? Change bags right at the restaurant exit? Like superman changes his costume?

                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                  buttertart RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 16, 2010 08:36 AM

                                                                                                                  Transparent it is, in NYS. I've seen one or two people on the street with them.

                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: buttertart Aug 16, 2010 08:47 AM

                                                                                                                    Thanks. I wonder why. I will read up on the reasons for transparent bag.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                      Harters RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 22, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                      Just by the by, can anyone explain the reasoning why, in north America, there is often this legal requirement to carry alcohol in a bag? It seems very strange to this Briton.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                        CindyJ RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                        I'm actually not aware of any such law. In practical terms, a bag makes toting wine (or anything else) a bit more convenient. But I've never heard that it's a law.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 08:31 AM


                                                                                                                          It is to help the paper bag industry. No, just kidding.

                                                                                                                          Well, in many parts in US, an opened alcohol bottle displayed in the public is illegal. Consequently, people would put their open alcoholic bottle in a brown bag and many even drink out of the brown bags. It isn't so much there is a law requiring you to carry an alcohol in a brown paper bag. It is that you cannot carry an opened alcohol bottles in open display and the brown bag is just one of the many many ways to get around it.



                                                                                                                          I don't know about the transparent bag law, but it is real and I cannot comment much about it.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                            linguafood RE: Harters Aug 23, 2010 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                            Because nobody would EVER know what it is you're carrying in that brown paper bag. Not >gasp< any alcohol! No way.

                                                                                                                            I continue to be torn between amusement and anger at the "open container laws" in the US. Every bloody street fest in Germany allows for people to sell and drink beer, caipirinhas, or whatever booze is in fashion that year in the street, and somehow, society hasn't imploded. Go figure.

                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                              thew RE: linguafood Aug 25, 2010 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                              it isnt to hide the alcohol. if it's in a bag you can say you are not consuming it, but transporting it.

                                                                                                                              1. re: thew
                                                                                                                                linguafood RE: thew Aug 25, 2010 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                well, either way, it's ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                  buttertart RE: linguafood Aug 25, 2010 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                  And you're I believe now in a state that has really crazy strict liquor laws, you must really be chuffed about it!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                    linguafood RE: buttertart Aug 25, 2010 01:55 PM

                                                                                                                                    i just do all my drinking at home '-D

                                                                                                                                  2. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                    thew RE: linguafood Aug 25, 2010 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                                    the bag isnt ridiculous. the open container laws are.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew
                                                                                                                                      alkapal RE: thew Aug 26, 2010 06:33 AM

                                                                                                                                      spoken like a true, urban manhattanite.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                        thew RE: alkapal Aug 26, 2010 07:15 AM

                                                                                                                                        or perhaps an american who believes that victimless crimes ought not be crimes

                                                                                                                                      2. re: thew
                                                                                                                                        linguafood RE: thew Aug 26, 2010 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                        dude. both of them are. i think we agree.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                          thew RE: linguafood Aug 26, 2010 11:40 AM


                                                                                                                2. pinstripeprincess RE: calconscious Aug 16, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                                                                                  i'm a bit surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet... unless i've missed it somewhere, but i've never been refused take-out/leftovers at any high end restaurant i've been to and the servers were very cordial about it. for reference, my experience with take-out/leftovers have been mostly in the US and Canada. the ones where i'm getting many tiny fiddly little courses i nearly never have anything left on the plate... there's already so little to taste that i can't help but finish it all. no matter, at the highest end of the high, i'm always gifted with something if not a small collection of things to take away for the next day. cookies, cakes, mignardises, etc in customized paper totes and boxes. i can't imagine walking away with a slightly larger tote and a slightly larger box for the leftovers would be offensive to them. if i'm having an a la carte meal at at one of these restaurants, they have no issue with me taking dessert to go to enjoy later. same beautiful bags produced.

                                                                                                                  at one mid/high-range restaurant, i was surprised to see that they actually kept the bag in question on a sideboard near the kitchen. as the night progressed and the leftovers increased, they just filled up the bag without my notice and it never touched my table until i was ready to get up and leave. the containers were actually quite large so it is obviously a request they expect and un-begrudgingly provide for.

                                                                                                                  your situation is a shame... i personally love leftovers straight out of the fridge late into the night. it gives me happy thoughts of the meal that just passed.

                                                                                                                  1. CindyJ RE: calconscious Aug 21, 2010 11:06 AM

                                                                                                                    My daughter recently had dinner at a pretty high-end place in NYC called Mr. Chow http://www.mrchow.com/main.html. There were a lot of leftovers from the many dishes ordered, which she and her dining companions asked to take home. Their plates were cleared and the wrapped leftover goodies were handed to them as they exited the restaurant.

                                                                                                                    1. buttertart RE: calconscious Aug 21, 2010 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                      Scene: the Modern.
                                                                                                                      Time: last night.
                                                                                                                      Players: us.
                                                                                                                      Situation: one of the players completely stuffed after all but the last course of a brilliant tasting menu.
                                                                                                                      Dialogue: "may I take this home?" "Certainly".
                                                                                                                      Action: coat check delivered to the table for pickup of same on departure.
                                                                                                                      Props: very attractive takeaway bags - one largish, with the food, one small, with a chocolate confection in a transparent étui.
                                                                                                                      Dénouement: two diners leaving happy, sated, in a haze of pleasure after a wonderful dinner.
                                                                                                                      Win/win for restaurant and diners.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                        Chemicalkinetics RE: buttertart Aug 21, 2010 05:11 PM

                                                                                                                        I think most of the posts here, including CindyJ's and yours are basically indirectly stating that La Grenouille came off as unreasonable -- no matter of its true intention. The restaurant should have explained its reasoning.

                                                                                                                      2. Bill Hunt RE: calconscious Aug 22, 2010 08:24 PM

                                                                                                                        I have never encountered this, but it is probably because I have never asked to have a "doggie bag." I want my restaurant food there, hot and fresh. If I want "take out," I order that, from such a restaurant.

                                                                                                                        Maybe that's just me.


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