17 Mar 2013

My Romance with Restaurants: Fondue

Since my love affair with men hasn't gone so well in France, I've decided to turn my amorous efforts towards food instead.  And since I couldn't possibly discuss all of my restaurant adventures in one blog post, I've decided to start my own mini series, starting with fondue.   I need not remind my readers of my intimate relationship with cheese.  Cheese, fromage, formaggio, queso...it's one of my greatest pleasures, in every language.

On Valentine's day (oh so long ago now!), the girls and I went for a late night seating at "Le Refuge des Fondues" in Montmartre where they serve a set menu for 21€ per head.  Between six of us this included an aperitif each, a couple charcuterie sharing platters, unlimited quantities of red wine in baby bottles, one cheese fondue, one beef fondue, and fruit salad for dessert.  We were crammed into the tiny restaurant which consisted of two long tables on either wall and narrow benches.  The walls were graffitied with messages and signatures of people who'd consumed fondue within its walls and old bank notes had been tacked up on one side.  The waiter held my hand as I stepped onto a chair and clambered over the table to get into my seat.  For anyone too preoccupied with the term 'personal space', I wouldn't suggest going.  I also managed to splatter sauce all over my silk dress after attempting to pull my bread out of the cheese fondue which appeared to be at the other end of the table.  It was a little on the runny side which meant getting it to melt on the bread was a chore and a half, but I managed.  Would I go back?  Perhaps with a party of four because it's a mini adventure.  But I think six was slightly too many for practicality's sake.  Not the best fondue I've had in my life but the waiters were lovely, particularly the older one who had a sense of humour and was slightly eccentric.

I went to another fondue restaurant recently on Rue Mouffetard with a friend of mine.  The cheese here in my opinion was superior to that in the other restaurant, being a much thicker consistency, but the service was shoddy.  And I mean offensively shoddy.  It took us about ten minutes to get a menu - not because it was insanely crowded but rather because it appeared that they had about five menus in total between God knows how many people.  It was like battle of the menus.  When we were finally in possession of said menus, we quickly decided upon the three cheese fondue and a tomato and mozzarella salad to share.  After a long wait, the waiter returned and snatched the menus off us.  This would have been mildly acceptable if we'd already ordered but quite the contrary: we were still waiting for him to scribble something illegibly into his notepad.  He stared at me expectantly but instead I looked at him incredulously and tugged the menu out of his hand before opening it and pointing at what I wanted.  He then snapped it back out of my hand and asked what we wanted to drink.  I turned to my friend opposite me and sighed, mumbling something like 'Well if he'd just give me the bloody menu then maybe I'd know what to have'.  He insisted on holding the menu just out of reach so that I was squinting at the rather meagre wine list.  After a short kerfuffle I asked for a carafe of red wine to which he responded: "carafe ou demi bouteille?"  I asked what the difference was in price and quantity but he seemed to avoid the question and the conversation continued in a vicious circle for the next few moments before I huffed and exploded with "carafe".

It arrived ten minutes later, half-baked apparently.  Yes, it appeared we'd been given a bottle that had been sitting in close proximity to an oven.  Before long, I noticed Naomi's eyes straying from me and a frown formed on her lips.  "That waiter just ate a hunk of meat from that plate he's about to serve" she insisted.  I turned around in dismay and saw his jaw chomping hurriedly through his stolen bit of meat.  We were practically adjacent to the kitchen which I would never recommendd.  We soon witnessed our waiter bringing his hand to his sweaty forehead and wiping it.  Two seconds later he was pulling a baguette out of the bread basket and slicing it.  He scraped the bread into the basket with beads of sweat trickling down his fingers.  He placed the basket on our table.  We paid about 26€ each.  I wouldn't go back again.

So I'm still searching for the best fondue in town, and I'll let you know when and where I find it!  Alternatively, if you have any great suggestions, please comment below!

No comments:

Post a Comment