Disappointed by Frenchie
Last week, I had a long awaited reservation at Frenchie. Back in July, I was eating with friends at Frenchie Wine Bar, so we decided to reserve for the restaurant while we were there. First available wasn't until October, 3 months later, on a Thursday night at 9:30pm, but we took it and waited.
The five of us were excited that the night had finally come after all this waiting, and two of our party had never been, so they were looking forward to it even more. The meal was really nice for the most part (one person's fish was overcooked), but everything else was really enjoyable.
Then at the end of the evening while we were still finishing our wine, the server brought us our bill before we asked for it. We all live here and speak French, so this wasn't a gesture of helping out the Americans who may not know that you're supposed to ask for it. He did this to the other remaining tables as well. I found that off-putting, but we continued to finish our wine before reaching for the bill and paying up. We had all been discussing getting digestifs and coffee, but now felt like we couldn't.
Five minutes later, the server came over with the credit card machine and asked if we could pay so they could close the register. Now I understand that it's late and you've been working all day, and you want to go home, but you shouldn't have a 9:30 seating if you're not prepared to allow people to finish. Or at least just say, "I'm so sorry to ask this, but we're just trying to close out the register, would you mind paying, but feel free to finish your wine, don't feel rushed." He wasn't even apologetic about it.
One person asked what time they closed since we were being rushed to pay (perhaps they have an official closing time and we've all gone past it?), and he said "when everyone leaves". He then just sat there and processed everyone's cards without saying a word.
This really tainted what was otherwise a wonderful evening. It's not like we were the only table left. So to bring us the bill without us asking, before we were finished, not even ask if we want a coffee, and then come over with the machine to force us out., without any semblance of apology about it?
I guess Frenchie is so popular that it doesn't matter how they treat their guests because other people will line up to take the table anyway. Maybe I'm overreacting, but this really tainted the whole experience and certainly doesn't make me want to jump through hoops to reserve, wait 3 months, and spend 100€ just to feel like a nuisance.
Just thought I'd share, as I found this very strange.
We also had a similar experience last week. I will be reporting on it when I get to that part of my trip report. Felt very much like they had a well oiled process - everyone seated at the same time, all the same courses at the same time. Almost like a cruise ship service. And yes the bills were walked around and left at the tables. I even commented quite loudly that "I guess I don't need to ask for it", and the wife shh-ed me. I chalked it up to us being at the first seating. It is too bad, because the food was stellar.
Same experience. They are victims of their success. They began by serving us flat champagne which they changed after I complained. This should never have gotten past the barman. We also had to ask for bread which was unusual. They brought us our check before I asked for it. I pointed out that we wanted to order digestifs. They have a beautiful ardoise with digestifs. Why do they act like they don't want to serve them? To add insult to injury, the pour on the digestif was stingy. That being said, the food was good to very good. All in all, in my opinion, not worth the trouble and price with so many choices in Paris. I like places that at least act like they appreciate my patronage.
There has been a service disconnect at Frenchie from day one. (I have the feeling that service is much better now than it once was, but...) The concept of multi-tasking was lost on the waiter who criss-crossed the dining rooms multiple times completing service that should have taken no more than two trips. The kitchen had the annoying practice of setting up all the plates for one menu choice and delivering them to all of the tables where they were ordered, then starting on another menu choice, and so on. So if at your table of four, 2 people ordered one thing and 2 each ordered something different, the table would have to wait until each of the three various orders were completed and delivered to every table! So, so long hot soup. Or, we can all just start to eat when we are served.?.?. I seem to remember that even back in the beginning, tabs were brought without being requested. This is, of course, history; we haven't been there since 2009. Four times was enough even then.
Haven't been since Greg started his dinner only hours, but once the New York Times blesses/curses you, the scene changes.
My advice - read the blogs and websites in both English and French and go where its happening, Pirouette, Abri, Flora, Vivant, Pierre Sang Boyer, L'Apibo, Excoffier, etc.
Frenchie hasn't ever been on my to-do list, and now it goes on my permanent don't-go list. Treatment like that makes the food go sour in my opinion. There are plenty of other restaurants in Paris with wonderful food.
And as for "going where it is happening.." what is that "it?" If you're talking about good food, I agree. If the referral is to the trendy places, not so much.
Chef, I'm talking about places (Pirouette, Abri, Flora, Vivant, Pierre Sang Boyer, L'Apibo, Excoffier, etc.) that are NOT yet trendy or written up in the NYT, Food & Wine, FT or the food guides.
L'Ami Louis, Gagnaire, CLJ, etc., don't take imagination or work to find, they just take money. I was suggesting that searchers search.
But since my terse comments are often misunderstood, I've expanded.