Bocuse needs to pay attention to the restaurant that bears his name.
As some of you know, our very favorite and most pleasing meal was the degustation menu tasting we did years ago in France at Le Bistro. We were hoping for something along that line, quality wise when we arrived for dinner last night.
Our wait for a table was minimal, and we were seated at a lovely table for two near the window. We did have a nice view of the fireworks during Illuminations, but that was much later in the meal.
We read the entire menu (and it's a short one, by the way) and made our selections. We both had the salmon appetizer, Herself had the truffle and oxtail soup, I had the lobster, and for the main course we both chose the rack of lamb. Herself had the orange soufflé for dessert and I had the napoleon.
Prior to service of the meal, a very small puffed pastry type amuse bouche was served. It tasted very strongly of egg, and when another CM came along and gave them to us again, we didn't eat the second offering. The bread was the usual baguette. I didn't mind it, but Herself found it too hard and crunchy.
Given the description of the salmon we were not surprised by its being raw on all but the very outside. It was a touch strong, but with the cucumber and other condiments on the dish I was able to mask the taste. Both of us agreed, we preferred the salmon tartar of previous years... and far prefer our smoked sockeye salmon that we brought back from Alaska. We'd not order this selection again.
The course was cleared and after a few minutes the next course was brought out. Herself's soup was served in a pretty little white tureen with a puff pastry covering the bowl. My lobster was in a deep red sauce with finely chopped vegetables. Herself's soup was odd. Not bad, not good, just odd. The pastry was tough and when it fell into the soup became slimy. She did not finish. My lobster was tough and very chewy and the roux based sauce it was in was just there for effect apparently, as it had no real flavor. The dish was in desperate need of a little rice, or something along those lines. The entire thing reminded me of an étouffe gone wrong.
Once that course was cleared we were on a long wait (very long wait) for the main course. It was not served for nearly 30 minutes. The server, a wonderful young man named Yann kept reassuring us it would be out soon. We felt that our suspicions that "something must be wrong in the kitchen" were being confirmed at this point. We chatted and sipped our wine (I had chosen the blanc de blanc and Herself was having a very nice Cotes du Rhone) and talked about visiting Ireland, Italy, France... and chatted some more and ... well, you get the idea.
When the lamb was served, we were extremely disappointed and absolutely should have refused it, but it was going for nine and we just wanted the meal to end at this point. We'd both ordered medium and it was red, bleeding rare... nothing that either of us were going to eat. Not only was it extremely underdone, but it was cold. The fat on the lamb had congealed into that nasty white globby mess. Ick. The cassoulet of beans was another example of the kitchen not being under control. Either they are working with unschooled cooks or the chefs are too new to understand their food. The beans were horrible. Some were overcooked to mush, while others were crunchy undercooked. How they accomplished that is beyond me, but I'm guessing they tried combining two different cook pots to make service. It didn't work.
Then, there was this "mess of a thing" on the plate with the lamb. It was a very tough puff pastry round layered with soft (cold) goat cheese that seemed to have been whipped. It was soft and sloppy. On top of that were a tangle of overcooked green beans (to the point of being discolored) and raw asparagus. Nothing pleasant about it at all.
We asked for boxes for the lamb (and had him clear away the rest).
We then waited again for dessert... it was served about 9:30. The table next to us still had not yet had their main course, but it came just before our dessert. Her duck was incredibly tough and stringy and his filet was still mooing. They both decided that since it was late and they were starved they would eat it, but had considered sending it back, too.
Once the desserts came, nothing had improved. Herself's soufflé was flat out terrible. Undercooked, and stank of egg. It tasted exactly like a bowl of scrambled egg over which she poured the orange sauce and yep, you guessed it, scrambled eggs with orange sauce. Not nice at all. She did tell the server about that, and he was quite gracious stating he would let the kitchen know for "next time."
The napoleon I had ordered was no better. The filling was thick and gluey with no flavor and the pastry was burnt.
Needless to say, there is a serious need for a pastry chef there, and line cooks that know how to prepare the recipes.
We spent (including wine, and tip) $300 on a meal that we didn't enjoy one bit. Now, we should have (yes,yes, yes) complained but we simply just did not want to. Sometimes you just want to go to dinner without any stress or discomfort and we chose not to say anything other than about the dessert.
We'll not be returning, of course. We'll retain our memories of the lovely meal from years ago and head to Via Napoli for a meal next time.