AT ALAIN DUCASSE : “WOULD MONSIEUR LIKE HIS DESSERT FIRST ?”

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If you’re curious about expensive restaurants and want to stay at luxury hotels but your budget isn’t going to let you play along, then you should devise tactics like mine to find the cheapest path of resistance!s

I learned that every poison had an antidote from Madame Gavard, the chemistry teacher who failed me. I don’t remember now but maybe it was my physics teacher, Monsieur Butery – who also failed me – who actually said it…

Since I can’t remember if the saying is associated with chemistry or physics, it comes as no surprise that I constantly flunked in school.

Since some restaurants are very expensive and you are presented with the most contemptuous of glances from waiters when you order the cheapest dishes or cheapest wine, there are always ways to fight back. Every poison has an antidote!

I have a few tactics, so I’ll let you in on a couple of secrets. If you know of similar methods, please share them with me so that we can establish “a fraternity of eating cheap at expensive restaurants without being insulted.”

My first method is to take advantage of religious taboos.

Before I arrive at a restaurant, I do a bit of pre-drinking wherever I am. While the waiter fills your glass with water and asks if you’d like an aperitif after placing the wine list on the table, I immediately object:

“-No alcohol… No pork…”

The man instantly removes the wine list, all while cursing his luck to have been dealt one of those problem customers, but he’ll keep quiet in order to avoid making more trouble for himself.

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Alcohol is usually the most expensive item on the bill. What’s more, it’s evil… It’s bad for your health… So by avoiding a drink, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

The second method is based on diet. God bless those dieticians and people who work in this field. We have been subjected to such a dietary bombardment in the media, with them constantly telling us, “Eat this, don’t eat that – oh wait – eat THIS, not THAT,” that when you tell your waiter that you’re on a diet, he probably won’t have the strength to challenge you.  Because most probably he’s on a diet too… If not him, then his wife or daughter are certainly consuming probiotic yoghurt for dinner.

You have to admit that the first method I hatched to order little without being insulted by the waiter is highly original.

The second one might be recognized by the public and be very popular – something that I accept.

But the third one is all mine, a sui generis method. I don’t think you’ve even thought about it.

I sit at the table… The waiter arrives… Looking at me, he already guesses that I won’t be ordering anything expensive, but at this point he maintains his composure. He pours my mineral water. He asks if I would like an aperitif, I say no… As he tries to shove the wine list in my face, I ask:

-“What’s for dessert?”

Nothing can stop the waiter from being baffled at this question. As he tries to make sense of it all, he says:

-“Does Monsieur want to know about our desserts?”

I look straight at him:

“-Yes, please… As it happens, I’m crazy about desserts and I’d like to see what’s on the menu. If perchance you have something I like, I can only order one dish. If your dessert menu isn’t all that good, I could go for an entrée, main course and dessert.”

The waiter is stupefied. In all his life as a waiter, he probably hasn’t come across someone ordering backwards. That’s why he politely serves you, fetches the dessert menu or recites it for you!

As you may have guessed, the desserts of the restaurant are very important to me. I order the cheapest dessert and a main course and finalize the deal victoriously.

I also used this method at Alain Ducasse. There was just one thing I didn’t take into account: The wit of the waiter:

-“Since Monsieur has ordered dessert first, would he like me to start with that?”

Yes, every poison has an antidote, but you have to admit that it’s not easy to match wits with the waiters of Paris!

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