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Fleur de Lys Report--a bit of a disappointment (long)

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Fleur de Lys Report--a bit of a disappointment (long)

eel | Nov 14, 2003 07:47 PM

After years of anticipation, I finally dined at Fleur de Lys last Saturday. Sigh, it was not all that I hoped for. In all ways—food, wine pairings, service, and atmosphere—it did not approach experiences I’ve had at, say, Masa’s or Elizabeth Daniel.

The room—I’d always heard about the glorious fabric-draped dining room. It was glorious, but it was not where we were seated. They have a small anteroom off the main dining room with a sort of a clubby style that is completely different from the main room. The tables are very close together and close to the walls. Upon being seated there for a 6 pm reservation, we explained that it was a very special occasion (my birthday) and asked if we could be moved to the main room. They said no, it was all booked up. In fact, only one table in the main room was occupied at the time. I figured that since they evidently don’t inform you ahead of time when you are to be seated at the equivalent of the children’s table, they could have moved a later (unsuspecting) reservation to the table we had been seated at and moved us to the main room. Guess not. I’ll note that when I made the reservation, I told them it was a special occasion.

Shortly after we were seated, another couple was led to a table in same room. They complained loudly to the staff about being seated there. Their request to be moved to the main room was also denied.

The room ended up being as bad as we feared. We had to shift out of the way several times during the meal so a waiter could get at the cabinets of glassware behind us. When another waiter bent over to talk to diners at the next table, his butt was literally in my face. The space was so small that the waiters were constantly dancing around each other. It just wasn’t what I expected at those prices and at a place with Fleur’s reputation.

At that point, they had a lot of catching up to do and unfortunately, it never really happened. The food definitely had some high points, but it was not the surprising, mind-blowing, bliss-inspiring experience I’ve had at other high-end SF restaurants. Highlights: a tiny seared duck and foie gras “burger” in a brioche bun (ok, it was bliss-inspiring); roasted lobster with tangerine sauce and porcini oil served with parsnip gnocchi; a between-course sorbet of Campari and pink grapefruit juice; pumpkin soup with gingerbread croutons and sweet potato puree. For my birthday, they presented a sort of a cookie lantern (with a candle inside it) in a bowl of tapioca (I think) pudding. Very pretty. Nice gesture.

We had the four-course “tasting” menu (you chose your four courses rather than having the chef chose them) with wine pairings. Honestly, the pairings made little sense and my dining companion and I were served the same wine for courses where we had very different plates. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t well thought out. I will note that we were given a short refill of the dessert wine, which was classy and much appreciated.

All in all, I won't deny that it was a good meal. And if I hadn’t been recently blown away by Masa’s tasting menu, wine pairings, and service, perhaps I wouldn’t complain, but I just expected more from Fleur.

One interesting observation: three out of the four tables in the small room were given cookie-lantern’s and congratulated for birthdays or anniversaries (at least they didn't sing). I wonder if Fleur figures that people who tell them ahead of time they are celebrating a special occasion are not going to be regular customers, so they don’t have to treat them as such.

If so, I’m disappointed and most certainly won't become a regular. Anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

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