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This is for Nash, who keeps nudging the rest of us to share some of our stories.
In 2007 I was living in London with my wife, and my father decided he wanted to come visit (from Jax). Dad had never been to Europe, so one weekend we planned a quick trip down to Paris. I was 27 at the time, and wanted to impress my father by taking him out to some wonderful restaurants in Paris. I had worked with a Parisian (Philippe) about a year earlier, and we'd become good friends. I shot Philippe an email and he said: You have to go to La Tour d'Argent - you must go there and see how wonderful French food truly is. Sounds good, I thought, I'll impress my father by taking him to a real French feast!
Not knowing what kind of restaurant it was, I asked if there was a dress code. Philippe said: No, it's summer, maybe a button up shirt and some slacks - no one wears a jacket in the summer! This was good news, as neither my father not I had a jacket. In fact, the only dressy shirt my father had was a button up with a mandarin collar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_collar). I take a quick peek at the menu online and notice that the prices are high, but I figure this is the only time I'll ever be in Paris with my father so there's no point in worrying about pinching pennies.
Given the dress code, we don't think it will be too fancy, but the prices indicate that it'll be nice place - which is generally bad for my wife. She (in her words) eats like a 4 year old. She pretty much only eats pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. Her favorite restaurant in the world is Olive Garden. In nice restaurants she either orders pasta (if it's on the menu) or a side. As in, I'll order a an appetizer and and entree, and she'll get the side of mashed potatoes.
So, off to the restaurant we go for our 8pm reservation. We walk in and you can immediately tell that we've drastically underestimated how fancy it is. They look at us as if we're lost. Once they determine that we have a reservation, they let us know that they're going to need to 'help us fulfill their dress code'. They hand me a jacket and tie that at least looks like I might have worn it in, and they hand my father a double breasted blue blazer to put over his black button up - which looks funny enough - and then they help him put on his tie, by wrapping it around the mandarin collar. We can't help but laugh - they dont.
They lead us through the downstairs towards the elevator, and we pass picture after picture of very famous people (e.g. JFK, Mikhail Gorbachev) enjoying a dinner at La Tour. At this point my wife is having a nervous break-down - she knows we're underdressed and heading into a famous restaurant, where they will surely despise her dinner selection. The elevator doors open and they seat us at our table that has a perfect view of Notre-Dame de Paris.
I couldn't do anything but laugh. My father looked like he'd gotten dressed in the dark, my wife was so nervous she couldn't speak, and there we sat in front of a historic Roman Catholic cathedral - front row seats.
Next they bring over the dinner menus and the wine list, which is 400 pages. I immediately begin looking for something my wife will actually eat. No luck. No potatoes of any kind. I start to worry, but she notices the crepes suzette. Mission accomplished - well, it's on the desert menu, but a place like this will let you order anything you want, right, right? I start looking at the menu with an eye for what I want and the waiter comes over to see if he can be of any help with a wine selection. My father is staring blankly at the menu, and awkwardly passes wine selection responsibilities to me. The list was 400 pages long, and I took a recommended wine from the first page - probably a bad choice, but I'm trying to figure out why my father is pale white, silent, and still staring at his menu. I remembered that the prices were a bit steep, but my menu didn't have prices - so I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. That's when I learned that the head of the table receives a menu with the prices on it, and everyone else receives a menu without prices. My father, who is a public school teacher in Jax, is wondering what to order - the appetizers are around $150 and the main courses around around $200, each.
Just as I'm figuring out what the issue is, the waiter arrives with our wine and asks if we're ready to order. I quickly tell my father that dinner is on me, and he should get whatever he wants. While this is going on my wife is trying to order crepes suzette, from the desert menu, as her main course - which is hard enough for them to understand, making matters worse it's the desert from the 5 course tasting menu - it's not offered individually. Now she's pale and has no idea what to do. I ask the waiter if we can have a few more minutes to look at the menu.
Once my father knows he's not on the hook for a $1,000 dinner, he relaxes and asks the waiter if the "duck for 2" can be cooked just for him - he went from panic to special request pretty quickly, they oblige. My wife finds crepes of a different flavor on the individual desert menu, which still confuses them, but is an acceptable choice. I order shrimp to start and steak for my main, without drama. The wine starts flowing and we settle in for a nice meal. When it's time to order dessert, they give me the menu with prices and ask my wife if she'd like to order a main - but in a joking way, at some point they warmed up to us.
The food was fantastic and it turned out to be a wonderful night, but definitely not what we had in mind as we casually strolled in for a table for 3.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by JayFields on 5/1/2012 at 9:21 PM
That's awesome. Thanks for sharing!
Way cool Jay! Yer French Fried buddy deserves a smack on the back of his coconut for his little prank. Up vote, and let's have some more!
This post was edited by Nashnole on 5/2/2012 at 6:15 AM
Ain't no cell phones under water!
That's great. I can just see Dana's wide eyes. By the way, they sell Olive Garden salad dressing at Sam's now. I could send you some (or does she not do lettuce?).
I would send your "buddy" an envelope of fried boogers.
I would send your "buddy" an envelope of fried boogers.
French for French fries is I believe, "Le Pomme de frites". Not sure how they say snot. Shouldn't have too much of a problem what with their noses in the air so high. But I really like the French, they're supposed to have invented pizza. Only thing is, it was done by us Italianos, ice cream too.
Thanks, everyone, for the kind words and the upvotes. My friend did feel horrible; I still joke with him about it. Laura, I figured you'd get the biggest laugh out of that, since you've met Dana and my father - and, no she doesn't do lettuce; she does breadsticks & pasta exclusively.
Fun side note: The restaurant inspired scenes in the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, and received an "unexpected boost" from the film.
Sadly, I don't have story after story like Nash, but I might put down what happened on my first trip to Vegas - in the next few days.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by JayFields on 5/2/2012 at 2:05 PM
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