Before this weekend, I would have imagined having to throw up from excessive alcohol in the dining room at Chanterelle (after stuffed zucchini blossoms with black truffle sauce) was my most embarassing dining moment to date in NYC.
But it was bested, by a long shot. Ever eager to explore classical French cuisine dishes (not the only items on Dumonet's menu, but well-represented on it), I dined solo at the restaurant Saturday night. The decor was nicer, and more modern (although still quite ornate) than I had expected. Chocolate brown; nice plush banquettes; nice a la carte menu. Nice French-speaking members of the dining room team. I have somewhat of an interesting in following the progression of the cuisine of the chef -- Dumonet, one of the Trois Jean chefs.
It was my first visit. I ordered the quenelles de brochet (pike quenelles) -- much better than other places I've had this item in NY (e.g., La Cote Basque). Then, Dover sole meuniere. I drank a 1/2 bottle of Puligny-Montrachet, Leflavire, after a glass of Taittinger La Francaise champagne. Nice execution (by US standardS) of classical French dishes. Hmm, I thought, I might have to come here again, particularly given my having heard about the restaurant's import of langoustines from Brittany. Alas, such plans might be derailed by my own embarassment.
Dumonet is located in The Carlyle, and its "first" check to a diner itemizes the dishes and wines, but also contains a place where one can add tips and indicate the total and provide a signature. (I am trying hard to reconstruct the sequence of my mishap, in hindsight). While I was fully alert, I was just not focusing on this being the first check, to which I should have responded by submitting my credit card. I just put in the tip and signed. After sitting around for a little while and speaking with the maitre d' about the langoustines, I walked towards the exit of the hotel. When I was outside of the restaurant, and almost at the exit of the hotel, one of the chef de rangs came out, indicating that I had signed for the area utilized by hotel guests. He calmly asked that I provide a credit card, which I, very embarassingly (from my perspective, even though the restaurant dining room team member was very nice about it on the surface) and promptly provided. The restaurant must have thought I was trying to stiff it?! Excellent handling by the restaurant. Embarassing situation for me, although at some level I have to tell myself I just made an innocent mistake. :0