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Terrible experience at Le Violon d'Ingres

My daughter and I recently visited Paris for my birthday. Loving to cook and truly enjoying fine dining, I made a reservation to dine a Le Violon d'Ingres. Having traveled quite a bit and enjoying other cultures, my (adult) daughter and I understand it is important to embrace customs, languages, dressing appropriately, etc while in other countries. We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and were seated right away as the restaurant was not terribly busy at 8 pm. We looked over the menu and consulted the staff in picking out our appetizers, entrée and wine. I truly do not understand why in the world we were treated the way we were. Our wine was not refilled - we had to ask each time after long periods of time. I had to ask the Maitre d at one point. The last time we asked the waiter, he nodded and never refilled our glasses. When we finished our meal, the plates sat for a very long time. And all of this time, the French customers seated next to us were waited on hand and foot - they were actually through several courses, including coffee and dessert, paid their bill and left before we were even finished with our entrée. I was SO disappointed - with all of the wonderful restaurants in Paris, to choose Le Violon d'Ingres for my birthday and then have an experience like this was upsetting. I promise you, we were dressed very nicely, we were not loud, demanding or rude. I understand how Americans can be perceived and I am always aware of enjoying other cultures respectfully. I finally gave up and asked for the check, paid the bill and we left. Still had half of a bottle of nice wine left to be enjoyed, but we just wanted to leave. We had been there several hours and no matter how great the food was, being treated so rudely was not worth it. I am still puzzled as to why we were treated this way. Fortunately, we had other wonderful dining experiences in Paris, but I wanted to share this with fellow travelers as I would not want others to be as disappointed as we were.

Posted by
11507 posts

First that sucked. What a shame.

Secondly why on earth would you just not pour your own dang wine but instead left it wasted??? That is mind blowing that it would take two grown women several hours and you only got through half a bottle of wine, you show admirable restraint.
By the end if that meal i would have stood up, grabbed the bottle and slugged down remains .

Posted by
20440 posts

Thank you for validating my instinct to stay far away from any restaurants sporting the name of a celebrity chef (Christian Constant in this case). I've had some great meals in Paris with great service, but no "names".

Posted by
5685 posts

Very sorry to hear about the bad service. Where was the wine? Was it away from the table?

Sam, This behavior is not universal at Christian Constant's restaurants. I've had great meals and fine service at both Cafe Constant and Les Cocottes. Both are much less expensive than Le Violin d'Ingres.

Posted by
9862 posts

That's disappointing. I'm sorry you had that experience.

Posted by
23464 posts

I am curious. You have never posted on this site before so why is this your first posting here? Are just trying to take a shot at the restaurant? Some aspects of your story does not stick together but will excuse it to bad memory.

Posted by
616 posts

Christian Constant does own all these restaurants but surely does not cook for all of them.
Lately I had the same experience with a restaurant in Belgium owned by a famous chef, very very expensive where I took my mother and had burnt fries and very common but expensive wine.
This famous chef did not cook there and since then he had to close down. I met other people who had ordered for a business lunch and were not satisfied. A cook must be in his kitchen, owning a restaurant does not mean anything.

Posted by
8293 posts

" ....... had burnt fries and very common but expensive wine"

a). Did you complain about the fries ?

b). Did you order the very common wine? Did you not see the price on the wine list?

Posted by
18750 posts

almadiaz7, you were treated that way because the people that waited on you were toads. Its terrible I know. Its happened to me as well. If there is a way to just terminate the suffering and leave I do. I know there the world is full of great food cooked and served by great people. Just a matter of finding them. Make sure you put in a review with TripAdvisor.

Posted by
33305 posts

I don't understand why the normal waiter would be involved in pouring the wine. Wouldn't that be the Sommelier?

Posted by
9862 posts

Restaurants sometimes handle service differently -- they may not have a designated sommelier, or the sommelier may be more involved simply with the first choice, and then the serving is mainly left to other wait staff. Different models for different places.

And sometimes they DO take the bottle away from the table so you're unable to serve yourself! But sometimes it is right there and it's more of a kind of "social" pressure not to pour it yourself.

Posted by
2261 posts

"Sam, This behavior is not universal at Christian Constant's restaurants."

While I agree with Laura, it certainly sounds as if there is something toxic in the mix and management of this location, reading reviews bears this out so I am curious as to how much reading went into the decision to dine there. Cafe Constant and Les Cocottes get very strong reviews, unlike Le Violon d'Ingres. The service at Les Cocottes was warm and personal from everyone we encountered while there, fantastic food, too. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Posted by
2765 posts

There is a time to be an ugly American. I had this happen at a restaurant in Spain. I finally had enough went to the man in charge and said either step it up or we are not paying. Not only did he fix the problem I did eat free. He admitted his waiter was being a jerk.

Posted by
18750 posts

Carol, interesting that so much of the tone is blaming the OP for having had a bad time. Insane. I have a thing for never taking anything for nothing no matter what the circumstances. So in a couple of situations like this I have stood up, called the waiter over, crammed a wad of money in his hand and asked if it was sufficient for the slop and rudeness and if so I would leave now. Of course done with control, but just enough volume to embarrass the guy. I guess that's being a rude American; Guilty as charged.

Posted by
3334 posts

Her review on TripAdvisor says that the wine bottle was not left at the table. Now THAT would make this a terrible experience. I was having a hard time understanding the problem without that salient point.

Posted by
2765 posts

So after you have to trip them the first time for more wine, when they finally do bring the bottle you say "since you apparently can't see empty glasses, please leave the bottle" I have done that in the US.

(Or even better the guests at the table next to you tell the waiter that in the local language... I did have that happen. My friend and I were at dinner years and years ago at a fairly nice place in Paris. We were very young and really unsure of ourselves at this place, the guest next to us realized the waiter was ignoring us and he took over. He berated the staff in French and we wound up having a great time with him and his wine too.... :) Turns out he had even visited our home town!)

Posted by
23464 posts

I always have a lot of trouble with these one time rants. I will take it at face value but it is very hard to judge the accuracy when there is the underlying assumptions that perhaps the points have been enhanced a bit to made the story sound better. After all the purpose of the rant is to make the restaurant look as bad a possible. I give the OP more creditability if she returns to discuss and defend some of her points. One shot does not carry much weight with me especially if I see some inconsistencies in the story.

For example - the wine refill seems to be a big issue ---
Our wine was not refilled - we had to ask each time after long periods of time. I had to ask the Maitre d at one point. The last time we asked the waiter, he nodded and never refilled our glasses. ........Still had half of a bottle of nice wine left

You only get four glasses from a regular bottle. So how do you have a half bottle of wine left, when the glasses have been refilled three or four times? Could she have been on their second or third bottle of wine? Maybe there was a good reason the waiter didn't refill their glasses the last time. Or -- if the bottle is on the table what prevents them from refilling their own glasses. I would like some clarity on these points.

Our experience with most of Europe is that the plates are slowly cleared. I don't think they clear a table until everyone is complete done. Unlike in the US when you put your fork done, they grab the plate every if the rest of table is still eating -- Hurry up and get out of here!! I find that very irritating and it has happened in very upscale restaurants in the US. More than once I have said, "No, I am not finished." In Europe sometimes we have had to indicate that we are finish when my wife has not completely cleared her plate. Dining in Europe is far more leisurely than many places in the US. So without a little more clarity I am not sure how valid her point is about not clearing the table. Maybe the waiter was doing a good job but not meeting American's expectations for good service.

So I need more information before I can judge if the OP was treated as badly as she claims.

Posted by
355 posts

Frank, four glasses would be a pretty hefty pour. Four pours would be more than 6 oz per glass. My experience in restaurants, particularly high end restaurants, is that a server will rarely give you more than about a 3 or 4 oz pour, which would be 6 to 8 glasses. So, it is very possible that there was still wine in the bottle. Half a bottle, maybe - maybe not...

Posted by
3334 posts

Frank has a good point. No disrespect intended, but if Frank or any other frequent poster offered an extremely negative review of a restaurant or hotel, I would take it more seriously than a post from a one-time ranter.