I had an odd and unpleasant experience at La Regalade Conservatoire last week.
I am a huge fan of La Regalade, both the original and St. Honore; the quality of the food, the complimentary communal pate, and the value make it one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. I wanted to try the new location, and I am very sorry I did so.
Firstly, after sitting for few minutes, I did not see the pate being passed around, but rather it appeared they were bringing small metal containers of something to each table; I assumed this was a twist on the way they served the pate here. After I ordered, I was brought a couple of pieces of bread, along with this metal container, which contained sardines. They served a store bought can of sardines instead of the pate; I thought this was a bit odd. I do not eat sardines, so this was not a good thing for me. More importantly, isn't the pate one of the main reasons one goes to La Regalade? It is for me. Additionally, since I was having the uber-rich risotto (as my main instead of as an entree), I ordered a very light dish of scallops as my entree (5 euro supplement), knowing I would want to enjoy the pate. Had I known that they were not serving the pate, I would have ordered differently. It might have been nice for them to tell me.
After receiving the sardines I asked about the pate, and the waitress said there was a problem with it on this day. Great. My scallops starter was a ceviche style of four scallops in the shell, very fresh, very light, but not nearly as enjoyable as the scallops served at the other locations. I then had the squid ink risotto, which was excellent, rich, and full of flavor and textures. Desert was a speculos custard with a visually unappealing purplish black currant chantilly; I did not enjoy this; simple and nothing special. No bread basket was ever brought to my table, and no madeleines were served after my meal.
But the strangest thing happened after my meal. After signing my credit card receipt, I noticed that I was charged In dollars, not euros. (Google DCC or Dynamic Currency Conversion if you are unfamiliar with this). They did not ask my permission to do so, even though they are required to. This has never happened to me before. I asked to speak to the manager to ask about it, and she referred me to the GM, who runs the Hotel in which La Regalade resides, and he indignantly said that this was a benefit to him as well as the the customer (I will spare you the lengthy details of this conversation). I told him I did not agree, but I had no desire to re-run the charge or for him to credit me the three or four dollar difference in the exchange rate. I just wanted to leave. Then things got bizarre; he got angry at me for questioning this, and then he made a scene, the kind of Parisian scene I have witnessed on a few occasions, but have never been a party to.
The restaurant I considered one of the best, and one of the best values, anywhere, provided one of the least enjoyable meals, and left me feeling ripped off.