I had one of the most disappointing and bizarre dining experiences of my entire life last night at Auberge Nicholas Flamel. The restaurant had come as a recommendation from a friend in Paris, so I have to assume that we hit it on an "off" night, but would be interested in hear what others think.
We arrived right on time for our 8 p.m. reservation and were seated upstairs. Although we were one of the first tables to be seated (they were still lighting the candles when we arrived), the room quickly filled. We waited and waited...but no menus, and no service. Finally, after about 20 minutes, a waitress quite literally threw 1 menu at us (we were a table of 4) while racing by on her way to another table. We shrugged and took a look...some very reasonable 3 course menu options, as well as a 5 course chef's tasting, with or without pairings. We quickly made our selections, and waited for the waitress to return.
To our amazement, it was a total of 45 minutes before anyone came to take our order. Another 15 before our carafe of water arrived. Another 15 before our first course showed up. And I had to flag down the coat check girl in order to find our wine, which never appeared. Oddly enough, roll after roll appeared on our bread plates, seemingly from nowhere.
This was all quite a shame, because the food itself was definitely above average. My friends raved over their escargot tucked into puff pastry, and my grilled prawns and winter vegetables were delicious. However, as it was now an hour and a half since we'd been seated, we inhaled our entrees rather than lingering over them.
Our plats were also quite good, although was waited another 30 minutes for them to arrive. The pan fried duck was nicely crispy, and my friends enjoyed their veal, although the escargot was still the clear winner of the night.
After another long wait, our dessert arrived. Sadly, the truly excellent violet sorbet was ruined by the continued poor service. First, the waitress gave another table our desserts, and then, just as the other guests picked up their forks, she whisked them away again, and with an obvious grimace, dropped them on our table. With no apologies to either table, she turned on her heel and raced back downstairs.
By the time the check arrived, our little group had moved beyond disbelief to something closer to rage. We reluctantly paid the bill, and when there was no one to help with coat check, we went in search of our coats ourselves before making a fast exit out onto the street.
As a frequent traveler, I have eaten in many restaurants across the US and Europe. I can honestly say that I've never had worse service in all my life. It's a real shame, because the chef at Auberge Nicholas Flamel is clearly talented, and the kitchen was sending out some interesting dishes. Proof positive of how poor service can ruin an otherwise pleasant meal. I'd be tempted to chalk it up to us being a group of Americans, but not only do I speak French, our little group was incredibly polite in spite of the abysmal service.
I'm curious...has anyone else had a similar experience at this restaurant?