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Bistro La Promenade Skip this Overpriced Restaurant

3/25/2013 - By Marea Edynak

 

Usually when I don’t like a restaurant I just quietly go away and never return. However last night I left Bistro La Promenade feeling ripped off and thrown away like yesterday's stepped on snail shell.

 

When 2 people go out for a dinner with a $200 plus check they expect excellent  food and a lovely experience. Our evening was mixed and overall greatly unpleasant. I left the restaurant with a bad taste in my mouth  and the need to take an antacid.

 

I started by ordering the zucchini blossom house specialty appetizer. The waiter said they had not made that for months. Okay, I wondered why it was still on the menu, but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my evening. I then ordered the East West oysters thinking they were safe. They were fresh and briny but came without a fork. That took 5 minutes to get one. My husband ordered the snails and said they were some of the best he had ever had.

 

From there everything went downhill.

 

Next came my over cooked branzino with a small bowl of olive oil for the sauce. It was so dry that I needed the oil. My spinach was dripping with oil. Ugh.  My husband’s “Coquilles Saint-Jacques” arrived. He was surprised to see   3 large and rather attractively plated scallops. See the photo.

 

He thought he was served the wrong dish. When he mentioned to the waiter that he ordered Coquilles Saint-Jacques, the waiter called over the host from the front desk who told him that in France Coquilles Saint-Jacques means “scallops” and not the way they are prepared.  ***See the definition at the end...  He said the chef was French and this is the way he prepared Coquilles Saint-Jacques.

 

 He sneered down on us and said we did not understand the French language or French food. Because we just wanted to enjoy the evening and not have an argument we nodded and said okay whatever.

 

My husband asked the waiter what the crunchy topping was on the scallops and was told it was sea weed. For us that was a new interpretation of the dish, and while New Yorkers appreciate innovation when it pleases the palate, this was not the case.   Unfortunately the seaweed scallops were not very good and a lot was left for the garbage can. We didn’t even want a “doggie bag” for our cat. We are pretty sure that the cat doesn’t understand French. We do know that he likes good French food.

 

By that time I was ready to leave but we were both still hungry.  We decided to share a crème caramel. It was served in a little pot with 2 stale and brittle cookies. I tried to take a bite of one of the cookies and gave up not wanting to break a tooth. The crème caramel had a nice creamy texture but no taste. There was a runny sauce at the bottom.  After a bite each we left it. Not worth the calories.

 

If that had been all, we would have just chalked it up to a bad choice or an off night at the restaurant. But that wasn’t all.

 

Now comes the worst part.


As we were ready to leave the man at the front desk asked how was the  dinner. When I told him it was somewhat disappointing, he became hostile, telling me I did not understand French food, he was born and raised in France and knew that he was right. He then started muttering nasty stuff in French, not knowing that I understood. When I started to respond in French he said he was busy and rudely turned his back on me. This has never happened to me before in NYC. Nor in France.

 

Would I every go back? You know the answer. The appetizers were very good and the entrees not worth finishing. The wine was good if a bit pricey. The server was helpful  and busboys were pleasant.  But the experience was terrible. I wish that I had stayed home and ordered in. There are many thousands of restaurants in Manhattan and it is rare that for $100 a person you don’t get an excellent meal and have a lovely evening.

 

See my 2/12/13 post about Le Parisien bistro where the food is delicious at ½ the price and the staff is warm and welcoming.

 

***Here is what About.com says about Coquilles Saint-Jacques:

This Coquilles Saint-Jacques recipe is traditionally served on little scallop shells, but ovenproof ramekins are a great substitution. It features scallops and mushrooms, sautéed in butter with seasonings, and then made even richer with a Gruyere and breadcrumb topping. Coquilles Saint-Jacques is most often eaten as a first course, or appetizer, but can be used as a delicious seafood entrée.

 

 

 

Bistro La Promenade

461 West 23rd Street

New York New York10011

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