A fellow foodie from Taiwan was in town, eating her way through restaurants gaining stars in the latest edition of the Guide Michelin. She had been invited to dine at Serge et le Phoque and was told that she could bring a friend. I was very grateful that I was chosen as the "plus one", and happily tagged along.
The menu had recently changed to an à la carte format, featuring a good number of choices. We decided to let the kitchen work its magic and send us surprises, and waited with anticipation for the food to arrive.
But I do have some complaints about the service, especially since these guys have now gotten themselves a little macaron. My friend and I are of the opinion that when you're a little casual bistro, you can have a casual attitude about service, but once you've been upgraded to star-status, people's expectations will naturally go up. And tonight they fell a little short on two fronts.
First was the pacing of the dishes. Maybe it was because we started relatively late - at their request - and the kitchen wanted to knock off a little early. We were flooded with dishes from the kitchen which, normally, is something we would really appreciate. But sending 4 dishes in quick succession to a table of 3 is not something I would appreciate, especially when two of us have to snap a pic or two. The third or fourth dish would start to get cold before we even get to it, and that's not exactly how you want to showcase your food to people who are gonna write about it...
The other issue relates to the wine service, which was otherwise very accommodating and fine. After pouring the first glass of the Coche, we discovered that one of the glasses had a chip on the rim. So we asked for a new glass, and the old glass - with wine inside - was taken away. We had all thought that they would simply pour the wine from the chipped glass into a new, undamaged glass... but the replacement glass was empty when it came back.
While I appreciate that I had used one of my "wine condoms" to cover up the bottle and mask the identity of the Coche, that was still no way to treat the customer's wine. The fault lies with the glass, not the wine. What if I had brought a bottle of Coche's Corton-Charlemagne or DRC Montrachet? The amount of wine in that glass would have cost a pretty penny!
Thankfully we did get the old glass of wine back after a while, and stopped the manager from pouring the "old" wine into the new glass with the "new" wine. The manager seemed a little flustered by our very particular demands (read: pain-in-the-ass), but this is a pet peeve with a lot of us winos... When we drink wines that we like, many of us like to see how the wine evolves over time, so we never like to pour fresh wine into a glass containing "old" wine that has gone through aeration in glass. When you're a small, casual bistro in Paris, maybe your clientele won't care. When you start to attract more well-heeled customers - and I'm not trying to say that I am one - some of these people who bring nice wines may care about wine service a little more.
Anyway, enough ranting for now. I still had a very enjoyable meal, and would like to thank the restaurant and their PR for the nice treat.