I love the french peasant bread. I love the sandwiches. But I've gotten over the almond croissants. It was a brief romance. Like everywhere else in New York, they disappoint. They're too crispy. They're overcooked. They're way greasy. Plain greasy. Just because it's almost entirely composed of fat, a well executed almond croissant should be able to fool you into thinking that 1) it's managed to transmute the fat into something not altogether unforgiving, and 2) anything that tastes this good has a moral ground all its own.
But I can deal with it. What I haven't gotten over is the rudeness of the owner (hereonout, Mr. Meanie), his barely concealed contempt for his customers. I just witnessed him pull a big old haughty French thing with some very innocuous young albeit defiantly slobby American men (I can do this -I'm neither French nor american) who had just minutes before been raving about the pretzel bread. They left the store humiliated without purchsaing anything. They committed the mortal sin of ordering pizza. Mr.Meanie used to make little pizza rustica things but discontinued them after a couple of months. One of the youngsters had the timerity to ask him why and that ..well that unleashed something not too pretty in Mr. Meanie. Thing is the young fellow was really delivering a compliment the only way he know how. Read: the pizza was so good. Read: the pizza was the whole reason I dragged these guys here. Read: I'd give my right arm for a piece right now just to save face.
It reminded me of a similar scene across the street at Jacques T.'s some months back between the Commander (no joke, that's the manager's title -the Nazi vocabulary is more than a little unsettling especially when you grab a gawk at this woman's outrageous customer service skills) and a passive customer. Jacques T has some ownership interest in Almondine. Did he ever so gently nudge Mr. Meanie to attend
the same customer relations seminar as the Commander? Now, Jacques T is the picture of sweetness and charm when you meet him in the store. He gets the whole American codependency thing and he doesn't brandish his Gallic superiority at least not permissively. Mr. Meanie makes you question why you'd even eat in the first place. Isn't there something slightly demeaning about it? Crude? If a simple request for an item he once made can send Mr. Meanie into customer execution mode, think of the load bearing capacity of a question along the lines of "what kind of butter do you use in your sandwiches?" (Yes, they butter their sandwiches)