Restaurants & Bars 19

Le Repaire de Cartouche (Paris) -- DO NOT GO

NWPeter | Oct 29, 2009 09:34 AM

The service was the most condescending, offensive, and, yes, childish we’ve have come across in any restaurant, Paris or anywhere else. Background: we stopped in the around lunch time and made a reservation for that night. We were only one of just a few names in the book. The place is split-level, with one room off Blvd des Filles-du-Calvaire and the main room (downstairs) off rue Amelot. We show up on time, go through the empty upstairs room, go downstairs and say we have a reservation under such-and-such name. The head waiter (there are only two, he and his assistant) looks at us and proceeds upstairs. No, we say, we’d rather be downstairs (which at that point was at best half-full). Much irritation and consulting his reservation book, he puts us in a corner downstairs.

We order. There is a starter of, loosely translated, egg with cream of mushrooms, and listed on the menu as “Oeuf . . . . . “. I start to order it and he, in mock horror, spits, “Boeuf?? Not, boeuf, oeuf!” Fortunately we don’t have to deal with him again for awhile, but with his young dour assistant (we guess she has been trained not to smile by the head guy). After the mains, we look at the menu and order the “fromage du jour, “ and indicate it is for both of us as we each want just a bit. No, impossible – if two of you eat the cheese, you will get charged for two. Notice that it was listed as a singular, not an assiette, not a plat du. We order one, and share, and fortunately don’t get charged for two. After we finish, he comes by, doesn’t ask if we want caffe, drops the check off without a word, doesn't look at us, and leaves. Of course, no: thank you for coming, au revoir, etc.

A couple of side notes. The downstairs room was at best three quarters full at any point. We were probably the only non-Parisians. Also, this was the unhappiest crowd we’ve ever seen. No one, absolutely no one was smiling. The food, ah yes, the food. It was exceptionally good; all the dishes were delicious, although for a neighborhood bistro on the expensive side. All the more reason this was a major disappointment, to say the least.

And, a word of advice for all those who come to Paris looking for “a little non-touristy bistro off the beaten tourist path”: this is it, BUT be careful what you wish for. You might want to go to one; the restaurant on the other hand may very well not want you there and will let you know it.

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