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Which restaurants will take kindly to requests for doggy bag?

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I've read some posts that imply that it's OK to ask for a doggy bag at certain restaurants -- for example, Chez L'Ami Jean.

Are there other restaurants at that price range that would be OK with this?

I would like to try larger orders of meat (whole roast chicken or cote de boeuf from somewhere like La Rotisserie, etc.) without feeling like I should attempt to finish the whole thing in one sitting, or else let the food go to waste.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Doggie bag is not a custom in France. Even chez L'Ami Jean I have only seen it requested by a fellow hound who is such an habitué that he is practically a shareholder, and he requested it for a real dog. I would not say that doggie bag is otherwise a practised custom chez L'Ami Jean.

    However, doggie bag for unfinished bottle of wine is quite popular.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      At lunch at L'Ami Jean this Wednesday, I saw a woman ask the waiter to wrap the untouched bowl of potato puree that accompanies most of the main courses. The waiter agreed without hesitating - staff seem to be particularly helpful and friendly at L'Ami Jean.

      1. re: Fuffy

        I was there a couple of weeks ago and saw much the same thing. The girl had tried to fill the cardboard box the meringues are served in with the rice pudding - probably the reason the rice pudding is no longer served in a large communal bowl! Instead the waiter took it all back to the kitchen and gave her a nice carrier bag to take away.

        I wonder if CLJ have simply adapted to the fact their clientele is now mainly American so doggie bags are offered.

        1. re: PhilD

          They do have special carrier bags for taking uneaten stuff away. They've had them for some time. They do that not because their clientele is partly American (it is still mostly French) but because they have a policy of large portions.

          (Did you mean the pecan-almond nougatine to be served with the rice pudding? The meringues are served with coffee, they're unrelated to the rice pudding.)

          1. re: PhilD

            I was at Chez L'Ami Jean for two lunches when clientele was about two thirds French and one third foreign (not necessarily American). Of course at most places I go to lunch is all, or almost all, French, whereas, I believe, at the same places people from other countries pour in for dinner.

        2. re: Parigi

          "However, doggie bag for unfinished bottle of wine is quite popular."
          This may have slipped by while most posters were talking about food left-overs but since the Loi Evin (drunk driving) was passed, when dining alone I've been encouraged to order a full bottle which I much prefer over yesterday's old open wine and sent off with a corked bottle in a discrete sac. It's just right at night with my unfinished cold steak with a little A1 sauce.

        3. portion sizes are such in France that I'd be pretty surprised to have enough left over to even justify a doggie bag, even if you could find somewhere that would give you one.

          (you won't see a to-go box for doggie bags-- it'll be emptied into a square of foil.)

          1. The whole roast chicken and cote de boeuf that you mention are prepared for two people. Are you a single diner? If so, I would ask your waiter in advance about policy.

            Actually, any restaurant will, as already said, plop your remains on a square of foil and bring it back to your table. Whether you feel tacky doing this is up to you.

            16 Replies
            1. re: mangeur

              Thanks to everybody who responded.

              Yes, I will be a solo diner. My initial understanding was that asking for doggy bags in France was a total no-no. But then I saw some posts that seemed to say that it would be OK to ask in certain situations (when you have ordered a larger order of meat). Maybe the situations apply only when you are "such an habitué that [you are] practically a shareholder." :)

              I didn't want to "miss out" on dishes that are typically prepared for two people, but, at the same time, it sounds like asking to take leftovers will be a hassle. I think I'll be able to find plenty of other dishes to keep me happy.

              1. re: nl06

                As a frequent solo diner, I've had great results when I want a particular dish usually prepared for two, by stopping by the day before (not during peak hours) and speaking to the head waiter.

                1. re: nl06

                  It's no no-no (by which I mean not a no-no, not no-no-no!). But it's not usual either, and mostly, you should not act like it is your right. In fact, when in French restaurants, you should probably never act like anything is your right and always ask anything as a favor. That usually gets you everything.

                  1. re: souphie

                    "In fact, (when in French restaurants), you should probably never act like anything is your right and always ask anything as a favor. That usually gets you everything."

                    Words to live by. Could be titled "How to Succeed in France Without Really Trying".

                      1. re: mangeur

                        What Souphie and mangeur say -- indeed. In our experience, that approach works generally in France.

                        1. re: Jake Dear

                          Is there a place in the world where it works differently?

                          At the risk of uttering a dissonant voice, I never found any difficulty asking for doggy bags anywhere in France. It is perfectly okay. If you leave more than half your portion on your plate and it's meat or fish, go ahead. A refusal or even disapproval from the service would be a very strange thing indeed. Most kitchens have take-away containers.

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            Yes, there are places where it works differently. There are places where your being kind can actually annoy the staff, who want to you to be more direct and waste less of their time and not pretend you're building a relationship they're not interested in, for example.

                            1. re: souphie

                              My question was: "is there a place in the world where it works differently, that is to say: where you can act like anything is your right and you don't need to ask anything as a favor"? I doubt it.
                              As for a place where being kind would annoy the staff, I am not sure I'd want to go there more than once.

                            2. re: Ptipois

                              I would have to agree that every where I have lived or traveled, things seem to work out more advantageously when one acts with humility and without entitlement. It's certainly true in New York.

                      2. re: nl06

                        As sunshine says portion sizes are quite small so there is rarely a need for a doggy bag. My question would be to ask what you plan to do with the leftovers from the big dishes? If you are in an apartment with a kitchen (and fridge) then I can see you reusing it (good economy but a lost opportunity to sample a broader range of produce). But in a hotel you will find storage tricky, if there is a bar fridge it will be minute and need to be cleared out in order to squeeze in food, for example if we buy cheese to take home we ask for it to be stored in the kitchen fridge. Hotel rooms in Paris are as small as the portion sizes.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          and you do have to watch for the new generation of hotel fridges -- they have sensors in all of the slots where things fit, and the minute you take something out (to move it or just to look at the label) it's connected via electronics to your account, and you're charged for that item.

                          Reheating, then, similarly becomes an issue, as there are very, very few microwaves to be found in hotel rooms in Paris.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Uh oh. PhilD and sunshine bring up valid points that I hadn't thought of. If a restaurant would take kindly to a request for a doggy bag, then might they also take kindly to requests for fridge space in their kitchen??

                            JUST KIDDING.

                            The good news is I'll have an apartment with a fridge and microwave. I think I know what PhilD means about the "lost opportunity to sample a broader range of produce." But the thought of changing into sweatpants and attacking the leftover roast chicken or cote de bouef without worrying about manners or table etiquette is kind of nice, too...

                            1. re: nl06

                              "the thought of changing into sweatpants and attacking the leftover roast chicken or cote de bouef without worrying about manners or table etiquette is kind of nice"


                              1. re: nl06

                                If it's roast chicken you're after, don't even bother with the restaurant. Stop by one of the boucheries that has chickens roasting on the rotisserie outside on the sidewalk. Buy that, and some of the gorgeous potatoes that have been cooking in the dripping all afternoon.

                                Drop past the traiteur for a small salad...the boulanger for a demi-baguette, and pick up a split of a nice red along the way.

                                Dinner is served and you can eat it off of your stomach laying on couch with your fingers while you watch CNN. (shudder)

                                1. re: nl06

                                  Why wear any clothes for that? I know some who don't.

                        2. When DH & I go out, we almost never have left overs even in America, because we're bottomless pits masquerading as human beings, but not all our friends are like us, so many times, at the end of a meal in France, they usually say something like "too bad we can't take it home here" or "Too bad it's not the US" or "do you think they have boxes?".
                          At the risk of having glares thrown at me, I have asked the restaurant staff for to-go boxes for my friends' leftover food in many parts of the world where it's either looked down upon (i.e. China) or simply not customary (i.e. France). Half the time they would do it, a little less than half they would say "sorry we don't have boxes", in which case I would say "what are those things you put take-outs in? can I buy one of those?" or "do you have foil?", very few times would I not be able to get some sort of container to bring food home.
                          I really wish people would stop worrying about embarrassment and just ask a simple question; I just can't see how it's more honorable to waste food that was enjoyed and had potential to be enjoyed some more than to risk looking like you can't afford the waste. If more people asked, more restaurants would get into the habit, and less food would be wasted.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: kerosundae

                            "I really wish people would stop worrying about embarrassment and just ask a simple question"

                            Exactly, and stop worrying about what the staff will think of them and other useless sources of frustration.
                            My experience is that restaurant staff rather like it when food is not wasted. Even those that are not accustomed to the doggy-bag thing don't bite anyone's head off when that sort of service is asked. It also sends out the message that the food has been appreciated. I see no reason not to ask.

                            One thing puzzles me in your post though. You mention China as a place where asking for to-go boxes is looked down upon. This is not what I have noticed, at least in the South. Taking leftovers home is actually so commonplace that just a discrete little gesture of the right hand is enough to signal to the waitstaff that it's time to take out the boxes and pack up everything that's left on the table.

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              "You mention China as a place where asking for to-go boxes is looked down upon. This is not what I have noticed, at least in the South."

                              I have not noticed this contempt either, not in the south, not in the north, not on the coast, not in the west.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                maybe it's just my family and all of their friends then. When I was little, whenever I suggested, they hushed me like it was profanity; last time I visited in 2007, I was explained that if all the food ordered is finished, that means that the inviting party didn't order enough food, so it's an absolute requirement to have food left on the table.

                                1. re: kerosundae

                                  "if all the food ordered is finished, that means that the inviting party didn't order enough food, so it's an absolute requirement to have food left on the table."

                                  True. (And I always do leave a little something on my plate, always, LOL.) But that is a different matter from "looking down on" to-go boxes.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    on your own plate it's different, but if the food is on the big communal plates (lots of it), then it's like "uh...I'm full but do I finish the plate? it's good, and I can if I want to, but I won't because otherwise they'll order another one; but if I don't is anyone gonna bring it home? no, that's just not done." It's not the boxes are are looked down on, they just think that if they pack up food to go, people will think they're cheap. Frankly I don't think anybody else other than the dining party is judging, people are just self conscious; it's like how everybody thinks their own nose pores are the biggest & ugliest on earth...or maybe it's just me on the last part.

                                2. re: Parigi

                                  I think in China i depends on the style of the restaurant. If it's homestyle, it is almost mandatory, but in a smarter restaurant with larger groups it seems to be less common.

                                3. re: Ptipois

                                  We've never ever had a problem when asking for a doggie bag in France.
                                  To date we've asked & received at every class of restaurant from simple routiers to 2 star Michelins.

                                  Have to try a 3 star.

                                4. re: kerosundae

                                  I live in Switzerland but my office is close to the French boarder. Recently my boss (who is French) and I went to lunch in Divonne. I ordered an interesting take on a steak tartare which was called a tartare burger on the menu if I remember correctly.

                                  Anyway, the dish was steak tartare with a grilled piece of flank steak on the bottom and top. Overall the dish didn't really work, but both the tartare and the steak on their own were nice. However, there was A LOT of it. Really surprising for a lunch menu given how expensive beef is in this area. I was only able to eat about 1/2 of it and was lamenting to my boss what a shame it was to not be able to take it home. To which he concurred.

                                  As in your post above, I was rather hinting the same thing to the waiter when he came by to take our plates saying how much my 18 year old son at home would appreciate the leftovers.

                                  The waiter looked at me and smiled and replied that yes, the portion was particularly large and then proceeded to remove my plate without further comment. My boss then said to him, "what the lady is trying to politely imply is that she would be very pleased if you would bring her a "doggie bag" with what is left."

                                  To which the waiter responded with a straight face, "Indeed monsieur, I understood, I was just trying to be polite in not responding in the negative to such an uncommon request." And with that he slightly bowed and walked away.

                                  Needless to say my boss and I laughed our heads off!

                                  (I should also mention here that I speak French well - but with a Swiss accent. Though I am immediately recognized as a native English speaker, the French find it amusing that my "twang" has a ring of the Swiss to it and I am regularly teased by my colleagues - who all call me Texas anyway. Swiss accents are, in some ways, similar to southern accents in the states. We speak slower here and tend to add more syllables to our words. All part of the charm I say!)

                                  1. re: marsprincess

                                    I would have asked thet waiter if he needed help in removing the evident cactus up his wazoo.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      In Australia it is a waste of time to ask for a doggie bag. Some misguided health expert apparently convinced the government that saving leftovers was unsafe. Voila, a law prohibits taking out leftovers.

                                      At least, this was true in the state of South Australia.

                                        1. re: RandyB

                                          ok it could make sense if it's beef tartare or oysters...but all leftovers?!

                                          1. re: RandyB

                                            As if people are dropping dead left and right from take away...

                                            1. re: RandyB

                                              A good story but unfortunately not true, extract from the states official advice (which is similar to other states in Aus: "The Food Act does not prevent a business from providing doggy bags. It is good practice to transfer the left over food into a new, food grade container and mark with the date. Stickers for containers are available from your local Environmental Health Officer to remind customers that food taken home should not be left unrefrigerated."

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                Very interesting, Phil. Our friends from Adelaide were quite insistent about it, too.

                                      1. Zip-loc sandwich bags. Won't work for half chickens, but quite adequate for most half portions of protein.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: mangeur

                                          I carry three sizes of ziplocks just in case.

                                          1. re: John Talbott

                                            Quite frankly, I do this because in the average restaurant I can't eat the quantity of meat/protein served. In order to maintain enthusiasm over several weeks of dining out, I have learned not to let DH finish what I can't. So I'm left with leaving it on my plate and trying to explain to the kitchen, dropping it on the floor or simply slipping it in my handbag in a ziploc. FWIW, these leftovers seldom get consumed because tomorrow is another day and another restaurant. And, worse, I've learned that the French don't feed their dogs people food and are appalled at the thought of accepting a leftover for them.

                                            1. re: mangeur

                                              "these leftovers seldom get consumed"
                                              I knew there was another advantage to eating at home at dinner.

                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                apparently my French friends have never heard this.

                                          2. FWIW, one of the most celebrated contributors to this forum recently posted on his blog that the cote de boeuf that was served to him and a companion was so large that it became the substance of future suppers.

                                            1. Answer: all of them. Provided that you do ask for one.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                Spot on my friend,.
                                                But just in case, carry a ziplock (I know you cringe at that but hey.)

                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                  The ziplock is a brilliant idea. One that I will never dare put into practice, but wish I did...

                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                    "The ziplock is a brilliant idea."
                                                    I said I did it largely for steak but today at Nuba, like Mangeur my charcuterie was too good and too much. And the Walden (Pond) wine too much for us. Dinner comes soon.

                                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                                      OK, Confessions continue: three days ago, inspired by mangeur's suggestions, we very discretely zipped lamb at Le Cinq. It was dandy and so appreciated at a much later small dinner at our apartment. -- Jake

                                                  2. re: John Talbott

                                                    Haven't found we need one. Most places come up with some foil. Progressive places are even starting to supply little plastic boxes with lids.

                                                    Maybe it helps that we often have the dog with us.

                                                    They're also very good about bring a bowl of water for him. Very civilized. Much nicer than most places in the states who won't even allow a dog through the door. (UK's bad as well.)

                                                    1. re: Yank

                                                      That's one of the best things about eating in France, all the dogs dining with their owners at the tables! Even occasionally spot a cat or 2 on a lap. Other countries have health laws forbidding pets in restaurants, although it's much more likely for a pet to catch something from a human rather than vice versa!

                                                      And ironically, Starbucks stores in Paris have become a haven for dog haters, they are banned from all Starbucks. (Who the heck needs a Starbucks in Paris, anyway??)

                                                      1. re: lemarais

                                                        Sorry, my big dog spent a lot of meals under the table in restaurant all across Europe, but I still draw the line at letting a small dog sit at or on the table. In the restaurant? Heck, yeah. At the table? No way.

                                                        The old guy feeding his Yorkie from his fork (before using the fork to feed himself) was the outer limit.

                                                2. 3 of us had lunch at Hugo Desnoyer in the 16th last week and the meats were not only spectacular but generous. They graciously bagged and boxed our left over côte de veau and côte de boeuf.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Laidback

                                                    And we nicked some stuff at Dans Les Landes today.

                                                  2. I ordered duck (breast and leg) at Lutetia in the 7th and only managed to finish the breast. Requested the remainder to take with me--and I had my dog along! The answer was no. On the bright side, the meal was very good and the service was better for having the dog with me.

                                                    17 Replies
                                                    1. re: Ellie1819

                                                      This is very unusual. Whatever is uneaten you paid for, and you have a right to take it with you. Are you sure your request was understood properly?

                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                        Absolutely. The waiter told me (in French) that food could not be wrapped.

                                                        1. re: Ellie1819

                                                          ugh. The perennial "n'est pas possible".

                                                        2. re: Ptipois

                                                          "Whatever is uneaten you paid for, and you have a right to take it with you" - I would be very surprised to see and "rights" enshrined in French law. So maybe a word of caution for anyone out thereabouts to go out and "demand their rights".

                                                          You paid to eat in the restaurant, not for the "right" to do whatever you like with the food. I suspect it's very much the restaurants prerogative as to whether they wish to do it or not, maybe Lutetia thought it didn't fit with their image/style.

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            I was born in Paris and spent the best part of my life here, and every time I've asked for a doggy bag in a restaurant, the servers were happy to comply. Never did I encounter any refusal. So I have some pretty solid reason to say that the case is very unusual.

                                                            "You paid to eat in the restaurant, not for the "right" to do whatever you like with the food."

                                                            No, you pay for the food you eat. Therefore it's yours. Not the restaurant's to make a double profit on it by reusing it on whatever they fancy.
                                                            And if they just throw it away, they might as well give it to you.

                                                            "I would be very surprised to see and "rights" enshrined in French law."

                                                            I wonder what that is supposed to mean. Rights are rights in France as anywhere else. Written or not. Of course you don't "demand rights". You don't need to. You just remind that you paid for it, so it's yours. Simple as that. And you can take undrunk wine, too, although very few people actually dare to do that. In some restaurants, they are reminded that they can.
                                                            Once I was offered a just-opened bottle of Bugey-Cerdon that my venerable though hipsterish lunching companion had not liked, and they even gave me a vacuum champagne cork to take it home.

                                                            Of course restaurants do as they please. But being justified in bringing home what you paid for is a no-brainer, whatever reaction you get.

                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                              Everything Pti wrote, but also it appears quite inelegant for an upscale restaurant to refuse a guest's preference. If I request catsup for my souffle, or cafe au lait after dinner, a top room should smile benignly and present it with flair. IMHO...

                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                Maybe Lutece and others who refuse don't want the bother of containers and wrapping etc.
                                                                Re disgusting dad, when I remember, I take little plastic boxes (slightly less disgusting ma?), but I must say that I always guess wrong and take them where portions are controlled and forget them when it is a real blowout.

                                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                                  I won't argue that it's not custom and practice, I won't argue it's odd not to do it, I won't argue it's not great service. But I will argue the point about "rights". You really only have these if they are enshrined in law, you may assert a moral right to do something but it's not worth much unless there is some legal backing.

                                                                  I understand that in France water is a legal right in a restaurant, I believe the provision of bread is protected, I am pretty certain that taking wine is a right (relatively new legislation to stop over consumption and reduce the death rate on roads). So there are some rights that are legally enshrined. I wondered if taking food was one of them.

                                                                  I also understand the simple logic of thinking you paid for the food and therefore it's yours. But it may not be that simple - for example when you stay in a hotel have you paid for the soap, the shampoo, the fluffy slippers etc etc. to the best of my knowledge you have paid to USE these things whilst you are staying there. But you have not purchased the "consumable" contents of the room - thus taking the spare soap, or cleaning out the free stationary is actually theft (and hotels do get peeved). So is that very different from taking food from the table, and where do you stop, does one empty out the dish of good sea salt as well..?

                                                                  So I do agree that taking food should be allowed, I do agree doggy bags should be available. But be careful about assuming a "right" when there maybe no such thing.

                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                    Interesting. Comparing little bars of soaps and shampoo bottles in a hotel room to a meal that you have duly paid for in a restaurant is a most original rhetorical process that I've never encountered before. That sure is a new one.

                                                                    (There are many rights that are not written in law books, don't you know? Like assuming that what you paid for is at your disposal.)

                                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                                      You hit the nail on the head, you have assumed a right because it's logical. But, without a mechanism to enforce it is it really a right.

                                                                      Think about what are rights: to not be discriminated against on the grounds of race; to bear arms; for free speech; to vote; or drive sheep across London Bridge if you have been awarded the freedom of the city of London. These are definitely rights and all are enshrined in law in their respective countries, but taking unbeaten food from a restaurant isn't no matter how sensible it is.

                                                                      Sorry to be a bit pedantic but I have visions of people banging the table and demanding their rights when they son't have much basis to do so....and I want to spare them the embarrassment.

                                                                      I am glad you like my rhetorical argument. It got me thinking of where you draw the line about the "right" to take home things you have "paid" for: I mentioned the spare soap in the hotel room? How about scooping the spare peanuts from the bowl into the ziplock at the bar? Or secreting a few extra croissants from the breakfast buffet in the handbag - I love watching this as people are always so furtive? Or brazenly cutting a 10cm thick slice of l'Ami Jean's pate and sliding it into your jacket pocket (I can see why DrT is such a popular dining companion)?

                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                        Naturally I was being rhetorical. Sorry it gave you the wrong impression that you could go on splitting hairs.

                                                            2. re: Ellie1819

                                                              "at Lutetia"
                                                              1. Oh those naughty Gestapo-era holdovers.
                                                              2. But wait, according to prior posters, this is not the first time that waiters have refused, usually claiming hygeine/Paris regs/etc. Never to me, but then....ta dah dah dum....
                                                              3. I carry ziplocks in three sizes and the pockets on my sports jackets are..... (that's disgusting Dad).

                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                Waiters in Australia make the same claim about legal prohibitions. I did some research and couldn't come up with any regulation there, and am pretty sure there aren't any here, either.

                                                                1. re: RandyB

                                                                  Randy -I agree the "health and safety" argument is often used as an excuse. That said in an increasingly litigious society I can understand restaurants being reluctant to let food leave the restaurant and risk potential litigation if someone mishandles it and gets food poisoning.

                                                                  Think back to the infamous Starbucks case of a customer burning herself on hot take-away coffee where she won big damages as they had not warned her the coffee was hot (luckily overturned on appeal). I think you can start to see where a restaurants paranoia comes from

                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                    I'm not sure that France or Australia is nearly as litigious as the US, yet we are the country where the servers always ask if you want a doggie bag.

                                                                    As for the hot coffee story, it was actually a bit different than the insurance shills claimed. That particular McDonalds (not Starbucks) store was located near some senior facilities. Seniors were a big part of their business. They kept their coffee unusually hot, and those were the days before double cups or insulated sleeves. There had been complaints and prior injuries, but no changes in the store's practices. The jury had some reason to be incensed. The judge reduced the punitive damages and the parties then settled before the appeal was decided.

                                                                    1. re: RandyB

                                                                      700 people per year had been filing claims against McD's claiming burns

                                                                      That particular store had been written up multiple times by the health department for keeping the coffee too hot.

                                                                      Stella was burned over more than 16% of her body, with 2/3 of the burns being 3rd degree -- meaning the flesh was burned off of her body.

                                                                      NPR interviewed Stella's daughter just yesterday.

                                                                2. re: John Talbott

                                                                  "I carry ziplocks in three sizes and the pockets on my sports jackets are..... (that's disgusting Dad)."

                                                                  I learned from you and, at Lameloise and Loiseau, when the waiters were not near us doing everything for us except giving us a massage, surreptitiously pushed food off my plate into a ziplock in my handbag on my lap, much to the hilarité of my 2 dining companions who come from the country that invented the Sac à Chien for crying out loud.
                                                                  It was toward the end of the tasting-menu, when I could not find a millimeter in my body to accommodate the averagely 20-euro per bite heavenly 3-star bites.

                                                              2. Recently I have asked for a "sac à chien" in two restaurants: chez l'Ami Jean in Paris, and Ferme de la Ruchotte in Burgundy. Both were happy to comply.

                                                                1. What I think hasn't been noted previously is the relationship established between table and waitstaff up to the point of asking for the doggy bag. I can think back on some bleak experiences after which i would feel not awfully comfortable asking for one. But at others, where a dialog has been active and positive, I would have no qualms and no doubt that the request would be graciously fulfilled.

                                                                  1. "Rights?" Har har. That's a jolly good one, especially in France. The only right you have is the whim of the restaurateur.

                                                                    A friend related a story that, a short while ago, he was having dinner and when the soup arrived, after a couple of spoonfuls he realized that it was extremely salty, so much so, that he could not eat it. He told the waiter about it, the waiter acknowledged his dissatisfaction (but did not apologize) and took the soup back. (without replacement)

                                                                    When the bill came, he was charged for the soup. When he complained (mind you, my friend speaks french quite well) the waiter paused for a moment, went into the back, and came back with this response: "Yes, monsieur, but when we took it back the chef tasted the soup and decided that it was NOT too salty."

                                                                    Rights in France, ha.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: lemarais

                                                                      Want to share the name of the dining room?

                                                                      1. re: lemarais

                                                                        And I also think we're digressing more than a little, entering into some rather offensive and misplaced psychoethnic considerations that are not imparting any progress to the discussion.

                                                                      2. I will try to get back to the OP's question.
                                                                        Regarding the two restaurants from which I had for a "sac à chien", namely Chez l'Ami Jean and Ferme de la Ruchotte - I did ask very discreetly. And the waitstaff complied immediately and graciously, and just as discreetly, placing a paper bag by my seat under the table.

                                                                        1. While I've never asked for a doggy bag personally (there's rarely much left on my plate), I don't see any problem with asking as long as you're kind and respectful... as long as you're prepared that the answer might be no. I've heard of people being accommodated in this request, but there are many more who are told no.

                                                                          I think that when we ask for things that are outside of the cultural norm, we shouldn't be upset if restaurants are not able or willing to accommodate us. If something is out of the ordinary, restaurants likely don't have the necessary materials (stacks of to-go boxes, dishes of butter, pitchers of cream for coffee). If they can't or won't cater to a special request, don't take it personally. And you can always, as others have noted, bring your own ziplock bag. Someone else who we know and respect gets away with it (it helps that he's charming).

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: parisbymouth

                                                                            "Someone else who we know and respect gets away with it (it helps that he's charming)."
                                                                            I have learned from Mr Charming and have used ziplocks in a total of 6 stars.
                                                                            Vive le ziplock !

                                                                          2. When I went to Drouant a few months ago, Mrs. Yeti couldn't finish her delightful daube provençale... of course she was to shy to ask for a catty bag (I have a cat, not a dog), and asked her faithful bearded one to make the request for her.
                                                                            Being a restaurant with a fair amount of tourists, I was pretty sure they would honor the request without a fuss. But actually the look on the face of our waiter was something between surprise, incomprehension and a slight incredulity... He still complied, wrapped everything in foil and plastic wrap, and gave us a little paper bag with a smile.

                                                                            I rarely do this, because usually what is left on a plate (whether it's mine or not) ends up in my stomach, even if I sometimes regret it later, but I can see that it still is not a common practice in France, even in places where one would assume that they get a lot of requests, which is a shame because as it was said before, it's better to eat the food later than waste it...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                              "it's better to eat the food later than waste it..."
                                                                              That's more or less what I told Mario chez L'Ami Jean (actually whispered) when I asked for a doggy bag for the big slab of ris de veau : "I hate to waste orgasms."
                                                                              And before that, the first time I had asked for a doggy bag there was for Jégo's seared foie gras which, like the recent ris de veau, came quite late in the dégustation game, and no way could I have eaten it by then.
                                                                              And no way could I waste it either. People who leave Jégo's foie gras uneaten should be jailed.

                                                                            2. You own the food. They have to give it to you. The next time I give a rat's ass what the staff at a restaurant anywhere in the world thinks of me will be the first. It's a business transaction. not a friend making convention, and i paid for the food (and tip very well).

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                you don't spend much time in France, do you?

                                                                                1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                  "You own the food. They have to give it to you. The next time I give a rat's ass what the staff at a restaurant anywhere in the world thinks of me will be the first."
                                                                                  If I had that kind of attitude, shudder, I would not have had the peak dining experience that I just had chez L'ami Jean. In fact I would not have got to enjoy much of civilized dining experience period.

                                                                                  1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                    I think this post demonstrates why I was so pedantic about "rights" in restaurants.

                                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                                        Well, perhaps I'd put it more mildly, but "you buy food at a restaurant" means that you buy food at a restaurant. In France or anywhere else.
                                                                                        I can't understand why there's so much discussion about that point.
                                                                                        And the last time I saw an excuse for being uselessly pedantic, it wasn't that post and it wasn't here.

                                                                                        Refusing that you take home what you haven't finished is equivalent to stealing back. Period.

                                                                                        And no need to involve law. It seems that the common intellectual mistake of confusing rights and law is also done here.

                                                                                    1. Attention PommedeGuerre:

                                                                                      Please refer to my post above. You apparently think that American cultural standards apply in France. Think you could appear before a French Magistrate and complain that you "own the food"?

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: lemarais

                                                                                        the very thought makes me giggle -- but I'd look forward to reading the ruling. French judges raise opinion-writing to an art.

                                                                                        1. re: lemarais

                                                                                          Well, if you can prove that you bought it, there's a good likelihood that it would create jurisprudence.

                                                                                          1. re: lemarais

                                                                                            You bought the food. You own it. In any country. I can't believe we're arguing this basic point of business.

                                                                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                  If it comforts the two of you to believe that, please have at it.

                                                                                                  1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                                    I meant that I share *your* disbelief.

                                                                                                2. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                                  Only if you pay for your foid in advance - in most of the restaurants I eat in I pay at the end.

                                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                    Fair enough. Then next time you are refused a doggy bag in a restaurant in France, maybe you could try telling the owner that you will pay only for what you have eaten. It would be interesting to know the result.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                      As I explained in previous posts you pay for the meal which is made up of multiple components - you don't buy the food. You are consuming a service which includes the food you eat, the service, the cooking, the electricity bill, the wages etc etc. If you don't eat it because your full that's your problem (and many places will let you take it away). If you don't consume because it's faulty that's their problem and it's your right not to pay i.e. they perform the service properly.

                                                                                                      Thus if this is my position why would I refuse to pay if I didn't finish it?

                                                                                                      I also note that I often take doggy bags home with leftover food. Few restaurants refuse to do it, but a common practice doesn't infer a right. I was nit picking on the use of the term because consumers often assume rights that don't exist and I have seen enough ugly scenes in restaurants were patrons demanded assumed rights.

                                                                                                      I didn't want fellow hounds to get into an embarrassing situation so I thought it was important to sort this out. Although I think it would be fun to watch PommeDeGuerre in action in some of the more traditional Parisian restaurants.......

                                                                                              1. Not if they get one of the Magistrates from the terrific show "Engrenages" (Spiral in english). One of the best shows I've ever watched, certainly better than its American counterparts!

                                                                                                1. So, I've asked a friend lawyer about the whole "legality" of it all.

                                                                                                  Apparently there has never been a case of someone actually going to trial over this matter, so there is no telling what a judge might choose to do.

                                                                                                  But, a restaurant is selling you food and service, so technically you pay for "both" which means that you have the right to ask for your food if you don't finish it. However, the restaurant also has the right to refuse, as it is responsible for the food it serves you, and if you mishandle it after going home and get sick, you might want to get back at them. A restaurant can choose to not take that risk, and if you would go to trial over this, it could put forward the fact that you actually pay for the service not the food. (this is why I put the word "both" between quotation marks, as it is both one and the other, but not both at the same time... law is weird...)

                                                                                                  I know I'm not bringing much to the party here, but since my friend went through the trouble of researching this, the least I could do is let you know what he came up with.

                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                    Maybe you're not buying the food. Like software, you are just getting a license to eat it. It has to be returned (to the food chain) when you're done with it.

                                                                                                    1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                      Only if the food carries a serial number.

                                                                                                    2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                      Whenever I bring up a question of liability in France to DH, he reminds me that the French do not have a litigious society as we do.

                                                                                                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                        Rio - a good summary which illustrates the difference from buying food in a shop and buying a meal in a restaurant. In the shop you form the contract to buy the goods when you offer money for the goods and it is accepted the ownership then passes to you (which also applies to take-away).

                                                                                                        In a restaurant you are offered a service which you accept (form the contract) by sitting down and selecting from the menu. Whilst the food is part of the meal it isn't separable from the service and other components like the room, toilets etc. This is why it's perfectly possible to argue that the final bill can be reduced if one or a number of the components of the meal is not delivered according to a reasonable expectation i.e. not paying for a poorly cooked dish, or very bad service.

                                                                                                        Why is all this relevant to France? Simply because it's a restaurants choice to allow you to take food, many are happy to do so, but many don't. It's not commonly done by most diners in France, and thus it's not the norm in most places and they may not be set up to do it. So don't be surprised if it's refused and really there is no point in demanding it's your right to do this because it isn't.

                                                                                                        It's very much a cultural difference between the US and many other countries so my recommendation is to just go with the flow and order conservatively .

                                                                                                          1. re: PhilD


                                                                                                            On a side note, as a more "psychological" approach, in case some American readers are wondering...
                                                                                                            I do feel extremely weird asking for a doggy bag in France (not when I go to the USA), I have no rational explanation for this, it was never refused to me (the few times I asked), but I just feel I'm doing something wrong...

                                                                                                            But this may have more to do with my personal weirdness rather than my frenchness... who knows ?

                                                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                              "So don't be surprised if it's refused and really there is no point in demanding it's your right to do this because it isn't."

                                                                                                              But of course it is a right. Not a right that you should "demand" (the matter should not be put in those terms), but absolutely and basically a right insofar as you do buy the food that is served to you.

                                                                                                              The fact that this is not customary also explains why not many restaurateurs have or give take-away containers. Sometimes that is the only explanation for not allowing doggy bags. Once though, at L'Ourcine, I had ordered a simmental entrecôte that was so big that I had to take half of it home. The house had no containers, but they made a neat little packet out of several layers of aluminum foil for me.

                                                                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                "at L'Ourcine, I had ordered a simmental entrecôte that was so big that I had to take half of it home. The house had no containers, but they made a neat little packet out of several layers of aluminum foil for me."

                                                                                                                A sweet address in any event. re the oft sited absence of take out containers, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to fashion a pouch from ubiquitous kitchen foil. Some guys with a senses of humor and style will even tweak it into a chicken shape.

                                                                                                            2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                              The concern for post-restaurant mishandling is a very, very unlikely argument in any refusal of a doggy bag. This is exactly the kind of idea that does not enter anyone's mind in France.
                                                                                                              Besides, the restaurateur is as much responsible for the food it serves to you when he serves it to you than when it gives it to you to carry home. So it would be a little strange that he refused that you take home the food that he found perfectly fit to serve you at his restaurant. He can't be responsible for what happens to the food later. If he were, there would be no caterers, no charcutiers, no pizza trucks, no sandwiches in cafés, and simply no take-away containers in any restaurant at all.
                                                                                                              So I don't think that argument is valid.

                                                                                                              Some restaurateurs may indeed refuse to give you a doggy bag, but that would only be because they're the grumpy type, or they don't have any take-away containers, or they're just contrarian.

                                                                                                              Thanks for asking your friend to research that question.
                                                                                                              (I do not think the matter should even be put in law terms, but it does not hurt to explore that aspect of things.)

                                                                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                Yes of course.

                                                                                                                I only asked because the discussion was steering towards "this is law", "this is a right"... and I was wondering if there actually was a written law that would clarify everything.
                                                                                                                I didn't really expect one to be, but there are some strange laws out-there...

                                                                                                                For me the matter is simple : if I channel the courage to ask for a doggy-bag, 1- they accept hooray !, 2- they don't bummer... go home, get on with the day.

                                                                                                                1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                  Or 3 - steal the food, using ziplock, otherwise known as doing a JT.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                    I'm not sure I'm ready to pull of a JT... I will keep going for a while without shaving, maybe that'll give me the mojo.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                      I would rather ask for a thousand doggy bags from an irate restaurant owner with a growling rottweiler crouching by the counter than do the ziplock thing just once. Why not simply ask?

                                                                                                              2. This thread is really fun; we need to lighten up more, kill all the lawyers (like the man said) and enjoy our food.

                                                                                                                1. PommedeGuerre: As others have said, "owning the food" is just not a part of french culture. Another giveaway of your lack of understanding the French is your mention that you "tip well".

                                                                                                                  Here's a flash for you: The French don't want you to tip much at all, much less tip WELL. French wait staff are proud of their careers, paid well, full benefits, and many actually are put off by large tips.

                                                                                                                  I would love to see you go before someone like Juge Roban (Engrenages) and tell him that you "own the food".

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                    I'd pretty much like to see PdG (heehee -- see what I did there?) make it through a French meal attended by a truly French waiter.

                                                                                                                    1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                      I was speaking in generalities that I tip well (where the front of the house is not already compensated for it), not a reflection on the non-tipping culture of France, and I still own the food. :P

                                                                                                                      1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                        "PommedeGuerre: As others have said, "owning the food" is just not a part of french culture. "

                                                                                                                        I don't think anybody said that. And if someone actually did, it is just not true at all.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                          It's absolutely true, IMO. Not is those exact words perhaps, but for example Phil D's recent post about purchasing service which includes food rather than "owning food" is a concept that I agree with totally. And it really gets to the crux of the matter.

                                                                                                                          1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                            The gastroenterologist-manque in me thinks we may merely be leasing it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                              That is quite a different statement than deciding what is part of French culture or not, without having much grounds for that.

                                                                                                                              I think there has been far too much hair-splitting done here in this thread and quite a lot of shallow sophistics. The question is not about owning the food or not, it is about buying the food or not. The difference between a caterer or take-out place and a restaurant is that you sit down at the latter. The process of cooking, ordering and getting what you ordered is the same. When you go to a restaurant, there's a price for every menu and every à la carte dish. And when you pay your check, you pay for all the food you've ordered. If you haven't eaten it all, what remains is, naturally, still yours.

                                                                                                                              Sorry for reinventing hot water (as we natives say) or having to bang into open doors, but, really, I wonder what part of those simple facts is so difficult to understand.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                                "....what part of those simple facts hard is so difficult to understand." - a very good question.

                                                                                                                                I would suggest that some like to assume things are simple and obvious when often the are not (and they probably should be more simple). This is why consumer advice services are offered by many government and authorities, consumers assume rights when none exist, and retailers deny rights when they do.

                                                                                                                                And whilst my reasoning may seem like splitting hairs I think it's a little insulting to call it deceptive.

                                                                                                                        2. It's not so much a matter of rights and entitlements (I'm having a sudden image of those entitled pedestrians in California who drive me wild with rage) but rather of technique and method.

                                                                                                                          I have a grandmother who, having learned the delights of a doggy bag when a diplomat's wife in Washington DC, has been demanding and getting her leftovers without fail for the last 40 years. Sometimes she has to cajole, sometimes she has to bully (without belittling) but always gets her way. While a grande dame du 7ème can manage it, I'm not sure if a tourist would have a sufficient command of the French language (whose calibrations and "registres" are perfect for such negotiations and disarming initially uncooperative waiters) or the old-lady French charm to get away with it. BTW, she does not carry around plastic zipper bags but depends on the kitchen to wrap her leftovers.

                                                                                                                          Despite her example, I (like Rio Yeti) do not feel comfortable asking for a doggy bag. Again, not a matter of rights, but of simple comfort level.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                                            My son, at an early age, asked me if he could take something home from a restaurant. I was tempted to tell him the advice given me by a much older friend, a local grand dame. who said, "Do whatever you want. Just don't do it in the street and scare the horses."

                                                                                                                          2. Another significant factor (and this is surely French culture) is the portion size of a meal. Americans are used to copious amounts of food on the plate, most of them feel that "more is better".

                                                                                                                            This definitely goes against the grain of French traditions. (Even though I;ve noticed in recent years that French portions are getting larger) Perhaps that's why some folks may not be able to finish their meal.

                                                                                                                            But I'm with Parnassien on this-- it's a matter of comfort level. I would never ask for a leftover bag in France.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                              I'm with you -- pizza places will (usually) ask if you want to take the leftovers, so I'll happily accept, but I wouldn't ever ask to take my leftovers home.

                                                                                                                              1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                                Naturally, the fact that portions are as a rule more modest on French plates plays an important part in the absence of doggy-bag culture in France. It is precisely because American portions are so big that doggy bags are customary there.
                                                                                                                                In France, it is indeed not a custom, but that does not mean it is unknown or not generally accepted. It is just an uncommon practice for which the necessity seldom arises.

                                                                                                                                Finally, it also depends on what is on your plate. Sometimes you want to ask and sometimes you don't. Some foods are just not easy to take home. And some foods are not worth taking home. But a roasted chicken or a côte de bœuf is really easy to wrap and take away, in that case there should be no hesitation and restaurants are usually happy to oblige.

                                                                                                                              2. Today's news (20 seconds in 20 Minutes) reminds us that today is the 2nd Day of the "lutte contre le gaspillage alimentaire" which hopes to encourage restaurateurs and their clients to use the "Gourmet bag, un doggy bag a la francaise."
                                                                                                                                A recent poll shows that only 23.6% of 1062 adults sampled follow this encouragement occasionally and only 5.3% do it as often as possible.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                                  Today: Baggy dogs
                                                                                                                                  Tomorrow: Shared plats

                                                                                                                                  Onward, Modest Eaters

                                                                                                                                  By the way, I asked for a doggy bag a couple of days ago in Aix-en-Provence at a restaurant where you get a platter of meats to cook yourself on a very hot stone, along with salad and vegetables. There was no problem when I asked for a doggy bag. The waiter simply put all three kinds of remaining meat slices (which we had cooked) together with the roasted potatoes and wrapped the totality in one tight ball of plastic wrap.

                                                                                                                                  1. Who/where started the tradition of sculpting the foil around leftovers to form a chicken or lamb or fish or...?

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                      it's been around for a very long time -- I remember being blown away as a little girl when my mom brought her leftovers home in a tinfoil swan -- that was several decades ago in a small Midwestern town so probably old-hat at that point!