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Apr 5, 2011 12:51 PM

Josephine Chez Dumonet Report

I just returned from a week-long trip to Paris, where my most anticipated dinner reservation was at Josephine Chez Dumonet. I had read so many wonderful reviews about both the food and the service that I was sure that I would have a wonderful, if not at least good, experience. How wrong I was.

When we arrived, very few tables were taken. They were not overcrowded. Shortly after seating us, we were given a menu, a glass of white wine, and an amuse. OK, no problem so far. Unfortunately, after that, we sat. And we sat. And we sat. This went on for over 30 minutes. Finally, I asked if they happened to have a wine menu. Well, I got a crumpled, stained list (that was missing many of the prices), and less than five minutes later our waiter wanted to take our order. We quickly picked a wine and ordered food and two bottles (smallish, which is all he said they had) of water. When the waiter returned, he brought an opened bottle of the wrong wine. After another 15 minutes, he brought the correct one.

Finally, the meal started. We had our starters, which were all tasty. We finished the water, and were never offered any more water, or had a chance to order it. After another long wait, during which we were throughly ignored, our plats came. Again, very tasty. Unfortunately, no one would look at us. No one ever checked to see if we might like to order more wine or water. There were four of us, and we certainly would have ordered another bottle of wine and more water. I have never been ignored like I was in this restaurant. All four of us were amazed that the service was as bad as it was.

After we were finished with our plats, we just sat there. And sat there. And sat there. You get the picture: same as we did earlier in the evening. Only this time, we had no food, no water, and no wine. I had ordered the cheese for dessert at the same time that I ordered dinner, but it never came. Finally, we asked for the check. Clearly, they did not care to have us there so that we could buy more of their food and wine. As soon as I asked for the check, the waiter disappeared and returned with the cheese. I told him that in no way did I want to stay any longer for this bad service. Strangely, he seemed confused that we were unhappy about being ignored.

In all, it took us over 2 1/2 hours to have two courses, some water, and one bottle of wine among four people I've had five days to think now, and I cannot remember ever being ignored by the servers at any restaurant like I was by the ones at JCD. It wasn't like I never tried to make eye contact or didn't try to get their attention. They simple would not look at us. All this for only $300.

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  1. Just to be sure, did you or any of your group speak French, at least at the restaurant level (the most important proficiency level =) )

    Even so, disappointing for sure. Not a great value place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cary

      Hmmm, JCD was on our list for Sept. but now I am having second thoughts. Nobody should be treated at a restaurant with such indifference and is JCD, now that it knows it has the world's foodies hooked, perhaps starting to rest on it's laurels. You don't mention much about the food. An important consideration after all. Did it meet your expectations?

    2. One detail strikes me as I read your report: did you just "sit there" all that time, not trying to get the waiters' attention? Were you really ignored or just not asking for things?

      1. Yes, I speak passable French and so does my husband. As for the "sit there", I was just describing what we were doing, as in not eating or drinking. I tried to make eye contact a number of times, and when we did get their attention and asked for something like a wine menu, the actual wine, etc., the waiters were quite dismissive. I eat in restaurants frequently, and have been to plenty of places in Paris, and nothing like this has ever happened.

        The food was, in fact, good. I had the terrine and the boeuf bourgignon, others had herring, seabass, duck confit. While the food was good, in no way was it worth the poor service. The waiters did as close to nothing as they could. While we were in Paris, we also ate at Le Comptoir, Chez l'Ami Jean, Le Dauphin, Petit Zinc, La Rotonde, and Chez Denise. NO place was quite like JCD. We will never, ever try it again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ParisKat

          Your report is giving me second thoughts too.

          I don't tend to be too concerned about service except for wanting my wine with my food or the food that I ordered delivered hot, etc. I really care about having wine and water. The "too friendly" waiters in the USA tend to perplex me.

          Bummer. I already have a reservation there for dinner in a little over a week.
          What about your other meals? Any standouts?

        2. Last time there l was with a 'friend of the restaurant' and service was OK, certainly not gushy and certainly not fun, very slow and proper. regardless, the foie gras warrants a return.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            This is, perhaps, the most telling of the posts on this thread.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              If the food is that good I'm happy to have less than excellent service.
              As long as they bring me wine and water :)

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                If it is as good as you say, and the duck confit as good as others say, they can sit me on the floor so long as they keep my water glass full. :-)


                1. re: uhockey

                  Good luck getting that water glass filled.

                  1. re: ParisKat

                    It's better to do it yourself. Get up and grab some water.

                    1. re: souphie

                      My dad (US) and his two cousins (French and Belgian) are all ~70 years old, and always pulling stuff like that in restaurants. You can't stop them with rudeness or bad service, or they'll clown you, and it just gets worse when they're together....

              2. As for standouts, Chez l'Ami Jean and Le Comptoir were the best for us. At Chez l'Ami Jean we had sauccison sec, turbot (lovely), potatoes puree, and the famous riz pudding. At Le Comptoir, I had duxelles with jambon and a yummy daube. Both places had excellent service and excellent food. We've eaten at both a number of times and this has always been our experience.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ParisKat

                  I didn't get the impression that the service there was particularly affectionate, although not rude, i.e. nothing like your experience.