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Garde Manger-Don't order wine by the glass with your meal

Fallon Jun 26, 2013 11:41 AM

Was in Montreal this past Thur-Sun. Ate at a number of great places, old favorites such as APDC, 400 Coups, L'Express and two new places (for me), Garde Manger and Le Filet.
Had wonderful meals at all five restaurants but had a bizarre incident at GM that ruined the meal for my FIL. He's 80 and is French. Both of our wives accompanied us. First the good part-Chuck was in the kitchen and the food we had was quite good. Unfortunately, when my FIL ordered a $15 glass of pinot noir he got the most miserable pour I've ever seen. We all assumed at first that it was a generous tasting amount and we were surprised when the server walked away. She was called back and she reluctantly poured a very little more into the practically empty glass. When asked what the deal was, she said, "That is my limit", as in that is what the restaurant allows her to pour. My FIL asked her to have the manager come over-he never drank a drop as he wanted to show the manager how ridiculous it was. Ten minutes later (which annoyed my FIL as well), the manager came by and was shown the evidence and he reiterated what the server had said. So my FIL told him to take the glass away, as he didn't want it. The manager did, but returned a minute later with glass in hand accusing my FIL of having drunk from the glass therefore he was going to be charged for it. This wasn't true, of course, and my FIL told him so. The manager then reluctantly took the glass of wine and walked away. It pretty much ruined the meal for my FIL as it was all he could focus on the remainder of the evening which was a shame as the food was very good. The final insult to him in his mind was they never cleared his plate-our server cleared everyone else's plate but his-it was still sitting there when we left, lol.
We had the lobster poutine (I ordered extra lobster), beef shortribs, a pork dish that was great, a fish dish of some sort and a scallop dish. My wife and I had bottled beer so no pour issues there, although the server told us they had Japanese beer-Tsing Tsao- which we thought was pretty funny. We went with the Montreal beer. Our bill came to $202 before tip, I left a 20% tip mainly because it didn't appear to be our server's fault per the manager-it was the restaurant rule. I mentioned the other restaurants we ate at on this trip-we did not experience a similar insulting pour at any of them. In fact, we've also been to Liverpool House, Lemeac,Toque and Chesse et Peche previously and never had this type of situation come up. We visit Montreal twice a year and love it and don't associate bad pours with your lovely city. Anyway, I thought I'd mention it for those of you who like wine by the glass-stay far away from Garde Manger, home of the preposterously small and insulting pour.

  1. Ruthie789 Jul 13, 2013 05:52 AM

    That is what I would call getting too big for your britches and total pretentiousness.

    1. j
      j_do Jun 29, 2013 12:19 PM

      you should write them an email. i wouldn't post on their facebook wall. they will probably comp you something.

      1. f
        Fintastic Jun 28, 2013 12:42 PM

        This is most unfortunate but rather similar to my own experiences at GM. Nevertheless, it's very surprising that they take this approach as I think Chuck is a genuinely accommodating guy. Yesterday I spoke to a friend who used to work there (and left on good terms), and he gave a candid account of the restaurant: generally a great place to work save for a rather tyrannical manager. I suspect this manager might be the root of the problems that have been discussed here in the past, as the food typically receives strong reviews.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fintastic
          Shattered Jun 29, 2013 02:56 PM

          Ok, most people have never worked in restaurants, but surely you've seen an episode of Kitchen Nightmares?

          Chuck is the boss. If he keeps an a-hole manager around, he's not a good guy, or he's clueless to what's going on outside the kitchen (which means he'd have to be pretty apathetic, and thus, not really a good guy). The buck stops at the top.

          Besides, if GM already has a rep for stingy pours, or other sketchy things as hinted by comments such as "I don't like the way they do business", then we have our verdict on Chuck already, don't we?

          p.s. Of course there's lots of tyranny in the biz. The right kind of 'tyrannical managers' ride their staff hard, but fairly. They don't insult their customers.

        2. e
          EaterBob Jun 28, 2013 06:01 AM

          Or you can tell him in person next Saturday

          1. m
            maj54us Jun 27, 2013 01:26 PM

            WOW! I think garde manger should look to hire someone who has been properly trained and knows how treat customers.

            1. e
              EaterBob Jun 26, 2013 01:18 PM

              Instead of griping here anonymously, I'd suggest copy/pasting to Chuck's facebook page

              Better as a comment on one of his posts than as a stand alone post.

              At worst you get the smug satisfaction of watching them squirm until it is deleted.

              At best you get an apology and perhaps an invitation back.

              1 Reply
              1. re: EaterBob
                pinehurst Jun 26, 2013 01:19 PM

                Yes...he'd have to go above/beyond because the manager was part of the mishegas.

              2. m
                Maximilien Jun 26, 2013 12:38 PM

                Was the glass big ?

                A few years ago, dad had the same kind of "pour" in an Hotel Bar in Montréal, they served him what looked like a small pour, but the glass was soooooo big it looked like a tea-spoon of wine.

                He got into the same kind of argument; he paid and left for somewhere else.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Maximilien
                  eat2much Jun 26, 2013 12:43 PM

                  I have some Reidel glasses at home that can hold an entire bottle of wine. Even a very generous 8 ounce pour leaves the glass looking rather empty let alone a more standard restaurant pour of 4-6 ounces.

                  1. re: eat2much
                    Fallon Jun 26, 2013 12:50 PM

                    The wine glass in question wasn't one of those huge bowls that you sometimes see, it was a more standard size one.

                    1. re: Fallon
                      cherylmtl Jun 27, 2013 05:06 PM

                      I've had wine there by the glass, and it's a usually standard-sized glass, and a standard pour. Unless this specific wine was supposed to be a smaller pour (ie - 2 or 3 oz taste) then this sounds quite atypical. I would have been a little more than "steamed" if it happened to me...

                  2. re: Maximilien
                    Fallon Jun 26, 2013 12:47 PM

                    Great question. This happened last Thursday night, we had a 8:30 PM reservation at GM. On Friday we had lunch at Les 400 Coups and it was the same size wine glass and the pour my FIL got there was at least double that of GM. We had dinner at APDC Friday night and again the wine glass was the same size as GM and again the pour was double (as if one could expect anything but a big portion of anything at APDC, lol). So Maximilien, it clearly wasn't the size of the wine glass, which wasn't particularly large. Now the wine glass at L'Express was smaller than the ones at GM, APDC and 400 Coups but they filled that sucker to the rim. It was just weird and unnecessary at Garde Manger. Or as my FIL said, "It was an insult!"

                  3. pinehurst Jun 26, 2013 12:34 PM

                    My eyes glazed over when I read that the manager had accused your FIL of drinking from the glass...basically, of being a liar. He insulted a customer over a $15 glass of wine?

                    At that point, I would have walked out. I would have left the cash for any app's or beverages I/party *had* consumed, and left. I'm sorry. The bad pour was the least of your problems with GM.

                    ETA: please don't construe this as beating you up. I'm just shocked by the rudeness you encountered, not only the passive aggression of the uncleared plate, but the accusation by the "manager".

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pinehurst
                      SourberryLily Jun 26, 2013 02:24 PM

                      Well put. Indeed, why risk your reputation and losing a client over a few ounces of wine, considering the cost of the wine lost is not 15$, but the cost of the product.

                      It's easy to get good service in ideal situations. It's when things go a little sideways that you can distinguish the great service from the rest, by how they diffuse the situation. Maybe their waitstaff (manager included) need to work on how to deal with unhappy customers.

                    2. j
                      JerkPork Jun 26, 2013 12:07 PM

                      The waiter didn't clear you FIL's plate (that's beyond insulting) and you gave him a 20% tip?

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: JerkPork
                        Fallon Jun 26, 2013 12:19 PM

                        My FIL was steamed, I had already paid the bill frankly and hadn't noticed "the insult". Our server was a young woman and was very friendly and aside from the wine pour incident which the manager made worse was fine. I just wanted to get out of there and was praying we didn't run into any other issues at the other restaurants I had booked. Thankfully, we didn't.

                        1. re: JerkPork
                          C70 Jun 26, 2013 01:13 PM

                          she was probably scared of him. Those young girls look fine but often don't have much poise.

                          that said, a pour should be a standard 5 or 6 oz. across the board. I've been to GM once myself, and I don't like the way they do business.

                          1. re: C70
                            pinehurst Jun 26, 2013 01:16 PM

                            Just to play Devil's Advocate, if I were scared of him, I would have gone out of my way to assuage him. But the rocknroll GM is no place for a shrinking violet.

                            1. re: pinehurst
                              C70 Jun 26, 2013 01:20 PM

                              Have you ever been a young female waitress? dealing with a customer who was "steamed", and a shitty manager?

                              I had customers make me cry when I was 22. Sometimes you just don't want to deal anymore.

                              1. re: C70
                                catroast Jun 26, 2013 01:22 PM

                                the wait staff in many high end montreal restaurants are atrocious. go to toronto, new york, anywhere else and have your mind blown.

                                1. re: C70
                                  pinehurst Jun 26, 2013 01:30 PM

                                  No; was a fitting room attendant dealing with awful customers in a dept store at 14, though, and the first rule was "the customer is always right".

                                  And this manager was backing the waitress up and calling the customer a liar...the customer's the victim, here, not the waitress. If someone called me a liar, I'd be steamed, too.

                                  1. re: C70
                                    Fallon Jun 26, 2013 01:31 PM

                                    He was "steamed" because they never cleared his plate. He was merely "insulted" by the pour. I don't know why she didn't clear his plate-she cleared everyone else's plate-I simply didn't realize it until my FIL pointed it out as we literally were leaving the table and his plate was still sitting there. To be clear, my FIL didn't harass her at all throughout the meal and as I mentioned, she was very friendly before and after the wine pour incident, hence my leaving a 20% tip. I don't think she was scared of him (all 5"4 of him!) or had any reason to be.

                                    1. re: Fallon
                                      C70 Jun 26, 2013 01:34 PM

                                      oooookay then, it was just a suggestion. As for the customer is always right, unfortunately not always here... There's far too much attitude in some of these celeb-chef-eateries, I hate it.

                                      I never implied that the waitress was a victim, only offered a suggestion as to why she didn't finish clearing your plates.

                                      1. re: C70
                                        pinehurst Jun 26, 2013 01:35 PM

                                        Totally agree with you.

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