ELV note: Our recent post about our foodie friend David Greco’s dining exploits in our humble burg drew a number of comments, not about his main point – being denied a table in a restaurant with plenty of open seats — but rather about his menu choices at one of our finer frog ponds (Twist by Pierre Gagnaire). The debate over whether to blame the resto or the customer when a dish is lackluster is one we’ve had with many food fans over the years, and we’ll weigh in with comments of our own below.
(BTW: This contumacious, contentious controversy is the just the sort of creative, conversational convergence we crave in our confutation man-cave. We realize such conscientious confrontational conflict doesn’t have the currency of more considerable, constructive discourse — such as whether Tim Lincecum has lost is fastball, or Rene Zellwegger her face — but we must conspicuously concede to coveting and conflating such controversial cacophony.
Let’s examine the positions of the respective parties, shall we?
One of our respected regs (InTheCards) took umbrage at something Mr. Greco had ordered (and not liked) as follows:
Twist has a pork chop and a steak on the menu by the request of MGM/Mandarin Oriental to cater to any pedestrian hotel guests who don’t have a clue just in case they happen to wander into the hotel’s premier restaurant. I am not 100% positive, but I do not think you will find a pork chop or a steak on the menu at any of Gagnaire’s other temples of gastronomy, case in point: https://sketch.london/menus/Lecture_Room_Library_a_la_carte.pdf
I know he is your friend John, but someone needs to say the truth. Greco did a poor job of ordering off the menu, he ordered the “safe” salad and protein and in turn his experience was pretty poor. He might as well told the staff he has no clue, perhaps that is why service was spotty when it’s well known that service here is usually impeccable. After all if David orders the adult fine dining equivalent of chicken fingers, who would suspect that he would notice if his service was sub par? As penance for his sin, he should go back to Twist, but this time either trust the staff’s guidance or get the tasting menu to see how truly brilliant this kitchen is. Gagnaire is on par with Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy, we are truly blessed to have all of the French grandmasters represented in our city (including Ducass even though he has been phoning it in for far too long with a sub-par for a chef of his stature).
To which cmasia replied:
I read your comment here with total astonishment.
A well known restauranteur ordered and was unimpressed with an item on the menu of a fine dining establishment.
And it’s his fault? It was on the ‘effing menu ! ! !
You are the absolute reason the term “food snob” was created.
But you couldn’t leave it there, could you?
You had to then add his service possibly was spotty because he ordered the wrong thing.
Do you have any idea how haughty, pretentious, and supercilious that is?
Not only do you give “food snobs” a bad name.
You give haughty, pretentious, and supercilious idiots a bad name.
Leading Crusty Onion to weigh in with:
InTheCards is exactly correct . A restaurant of that stature is not meant to please the masses, it’s fine dining because they train and train and train even more to have the highest standards.. There is no excuse for dry pork but at the end of the day you do not go to twist to order ala carte! Doesn’t make anyone a food snob, just educated on dining – you wouldn’t go to McDonald’s and order a tasting menu and contain that it sucked.. It’s just not what they do !
Jb / really ?? Pamplemousse? You need to eat out more .. How about Comme Ça? They do an amazing job .. I’ve never seen a brasserie cook the way they do…
The service could be better at times but one of the best in the city .. Frenchies catch up !! I think the chef’s a white guy .. Bazaar meats .. Wanted to love it just fell short.
Which prompted this rejoinder from cmasia:
To Crusty onion:
Thanks for the note, and as much as I appreciate your comments, I’ll try to go easy on you here.
1) You wrote: “A restaurant of that stature is not meant to please the masses”.
Thank you so much for letting me know my potentially inferior culinary C.V. may cause them to not accept my presence.
Heaven forfend I order something that causes the entire restaurant to have an “E.F. Hutton” moment.
That is your first condescending comment. Don’t worry, I’m keeping count.
2) You wrote: “There is no excuse for dry pork”.
Sadly you followed that amazingly perceptive phrase with the word “but”.
Sorry, no “buts” allowed.
You’re trying to “qualify” a lousy pork chop? If, as you say, there’s “no excuse”, there’s no excuse.
In fact, if I’ve never eaten there, shouldn’t I be concerned about the quality of any restaurant that can’t produce a decent, edible pork chop?
3) You wrote: “at the end of the day you do not go to twist to order ala carte! Doesn’t make anyone a food snob, just educated on dining”.
In 2 sentences you unwittingly, but hysterically proved my food snob point.
You condescendingly told me what I should or should not order with my money – thanks for that advice by the way…
…and then in the same breath claimed your condescension of what I should not order does not make you a “food snob”.
I hope you realize there is only one reason people are called “food snobs”.
It’s because they ARE condescending ! ! !
4) You wrote: “you wouldn’t go to McDonald’s and order a tasting menu and contain that it sucked.. It’s just not what they do !”
Your example makes so little sense I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just make one point.
If I go to McDonalds, I expect everything on the menu to be up to McDonald’s standards, no one else’s.
Again, Twist’s pork chop is ON THE MENU !
Take it off or make it right.
5) You wrote to jb: “Jb, really?? Pamplemousse ? You need to eat out more ..”
Oh, no, Crusty onion , you’re not a food snob…My God, what was I thinking? I take it all back!
It gruntles us to hear well-considered arguments from people who get as exercised about these things as we do.
Rather than take sides, our staff suggested we relate a certain (true) anecdote; one they have heard on many occasions:
ELV had an ex-wife once (don’t ask which one) who always approached every restaurant, wherever she was, with the same attitude. And that attitude was: whatever she was suddenly in the mood for was what she insisted upon. From Paris (France, not Kentucky) to Paducah (Kentucky, not Comanche), if lasagna popped into her head between the decision to go to the restaurant and being handed a menu, lasagna was where she headed.
“But honey,” ELV would protest, time and again, “look at the name of the restaurant! Look at the items highlighted inside the menu! The restaurant is telling you right up front what it is good at. Every thing else is just filler for the tourists!”
From New York to Nevada, these plaints fell upon deaf ears.
If we walked into “Archie’s Fish Shack – Home of the Fried Clam Basket” and she wanted a burger, a burger was what she ordered. If we were in a famous French bistro, and platters of delicious oysters, sole Meuniere and steak frites were all around us, god forbid she deny herself a “pizza Italianate” if that struck her fancy. Needless to say, this habit resulted in her having lots of terrible food and ELV questioning his choice of romantic partners.
Bottom line: our heart and head are with the restaurants on this one. We know they are in it to make money, and most are loathe to turn away a paying customer, but most places, from IHOP to Joël Robuchon announce their specialties to you, and their specialties are what you should order. Caveat emptor is our order of the day, and we generally have little sympathy for those who don’t pay attention when the resto is telling you right up front what to order.
That being said, we will give cmasia this: in a place of Twist’s caliber (and prices), there is no excuse for anything being substandard on the menu. One of the reasons we love the great French chefs and restaurants of our time is that they are known for an across-the-board excellence that no other cuisine in the world can match. InTheCards has a point — Mr. Greco probably let the restaurant down — but the restaurant also failed him as well.
As for Jb’s comment referenced above: we’ll leave his taste buds to the headcheese bin of history.
As for being a condescending snob, well, that’s our stock in trade, but we hardly have a monopoly on the industry, so we are amused and entertained by others of similar ilk, as we suspect even cmasia is.
Merci beaucoup to all,