Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Marseille; La cuisine au beurre

Hi guys! While in Marseille I felt like eating seafood because, heck it, we're next to the sea and apparently when you're Marseille it's something you have to try (that and bouillabaisse). Unfortunately bouillabaisse is kind of expensive in the Old Port and it's more of a winter dish (though it was, technically, still winter). Anyways, we had spent the morning at the basilica Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (which I will talk about in my next post) and were quite hungry. I wanted to eat sea urchins and had spotted a restaurant which had quite a wide selection of fresh seafood, baked mussels, and other seafood and fish meals at interesting prices so we decided to give it a try.

We went during lunch time and it was quite crowded. We sat down and a waiter came and took our order. First we ordered some beer. White for me, blond for Marie-Eve. Then I asked for a plateau marseillais (fresh shellfish tray) while Marie-Eve ordered a moules frites à la provençale (mussels with Provence herbs and French fries).

Our jug of water was so nice looking we wanted to take it home.

As we waited we talked, observed people, saw some guys performing on the street ... it was a bit windy but the weather was quite nice.

The plateau marseillais is basically six oysters, six shrimps, six clams, six cooked whelks and six mussels. It came with butter and fresh lemon. I did not like the fact that the butter was cold (how the heck am I supposed to enjoy cold butter on cold shellfish?) and I had to ask for some Tabasco sauce. Shellfish can be enjoyed on its own with just a squeeze of lemon but I like it better when I have some kind of sauce to liven things up. We used the butter for the bread instead. The seafood was generally fresh except for one or two little guys in there. Also, I don't know how the heck they shucked the oysters but they were still attached to the shell (meaning I couldn't gulp them down just like that) and most of their juice had fled somewhere (probably into the ice and seaweed on the tray).

After a while Marie-Eve's moules frites came. The French fries were good but the mussels were not warm enough so she had to return them to the kitchen. They came back really hot but most of them had fallen off the shells (which is normal when you cook them too much). She said it was good enough but the ones from l'Académie are much better.

Overall how was our experience? Terrible. I thought I had seen terrible service at Poutineville but this seriously beats everything. Ever. Seriously. I am not joking. I swear any "bad" customer service I've had so far and will ever have will probably look a thousand times better than that.

Everything started going bad once I got my shellfish platter. Marie-Eve's moules frites hadn't come in yet so we waited. In the meantime, we saw two customers that were already waiting for their meals when we sat down simply get up and leave. Another table also got up and simply left because their food wasn't coming. Four middle aged ladies were sitting not far from us. Three of them got their moules frites and one waited. When her food came in (fifteen minutes later) it wasn't warm enough so she had to return it to the kitchen. I had an oyster and a shrimp and Marie-Eve tried one of my mussels because the food was right in our face. I didn't want to eat as long as her food wasn't coming.

As some point, she asked our waiter if her moules frites were coming. He said "Yeah don't worry, it's coming". You know ... moules frites doesn't take long to make. Really, it doesn't. We asked one more time ... finally her food came in about forty-five minutes after my platter came in. Why? Because there was a misunderstanding and they thought we were going to share the platter. First of all, it was specifically written on the menu it's a platter for one. Second, we have been very clear when we ordered that we were ordering for ourselves. Basically, the whole thing had been ready for a while, they were waiting on us to eat the platter before bringing the moules frites. The funny part is they never told/asked us.

That was really disappointing for us. But the worst didn't even happen to us. Some lady who came to have lunch with her husband and their son got mad. Like really mad. Apparently she had been waiting for her main course for about two hours. Her husband and her son were eating their desserts. She started yelling "This is outrageous! Where's my food? I'm hungry!" and the waitress came and asked her what was wrong. She told her (while yelling) that she had been waiting for her food for two hours now. Though her reaction was too much, she was actually right. It wasn't her fault. The problem is the waitress got mad because she felt insulted (which is understandable) and started yelling back, telling the lady this is not a way to act and talk to people. They both kept on yelling at each other, because it was no one's fault (which is true, so why yell?) and the waitress went fetching one of her colleagues. The other waitress then yelled at the customer saying it wasn't a proper way to act in public. The lady was obviously outraged (and we were) for being told how to act when it's not even her fault in the first place if there was a misunderstanding between the waitress and the guys in the kitchen. To this day we still don't know whose fault it was. Anyways, the lady told the waitresses she wanted to talk to the manager. So guess what? The manager came ... and yelled at the customer. Damn. We were really disgusted. We both worked in customer service for such a long time that seeing that scene was a serious shock for us. Usually the boss is supposed to make things right, apologize for whatever happened, calm the customer down, and even offer the meal. The customer felt obviously deeply insulted, got up and left. Her son and her husband followed. She kept yelling at them from the street, saying how disgusted she was and how ashamed they should be.

At the end of our meal our waiter asked us how we felt ... we told him "Well, let's say we're used to a different type of customer service where we come from..."

Oh, and about those sea urchins I wanted to eat so bad? THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY THAT DAY. Like what? Really? Fresh arrival everyday my ass! Every other fresh seafood restaurant in the old port had sea urchins that day but not that specific place? Pffff.

So do I recommend La cuisine au beurre? Fuck. No.

That's it for today! See you soon!

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