13 May 2010

The Blue Elephant Has Finally Had It

First of all and just so that you know, The Blue Elephant is one of our favourite restaurants. A small family run place, it’s virtually straight across the valley from our house and is situated right in the middle of a village called Le Rouret.

We’ve been going there for years but despite this, we’ve never been recognized as regulars. In France, unless you frequent a place at least twice a week, restaurateurs refuse to recognize you!

We actually stopped going a couple of years ago because despite booking, we were allocated seats right outside the toilets which is not a pleasant place to eat a meal. When we challenged the owner’s son and asked for better seats, despite some being free, there was total indifference so we left.

At this point, maybe I should say that the reason we trek over to Le Rouret is because the pizzas are pretty good and the steaks, in J’s opinion, are terrific and so every now and again, despite much closer eateries, The Blue Elephant gets our custom.

On one occasion, when I’d ordered a ‘well done’ steak, the waitress went into the kitchen and all I could see was the chef/proprietor shaking his head and making that gallic shrug which usually means ‘no chance’.

She came back to our table and passed on the bad news – ‘no well done steaks’. No ‘sorry’ or any explanation. That was it!

Despite this inability to relate to a customer’s simple wishes (or should it be a simple customer’s wishes?), J insisted that we continue to go to the Blue Elephant because ‘her steaks were delicious’ so I had no option but to change my eating preference to their pizzas, which I have to admit, in the pantheon of French pizza places, are pretty good.

Last night we crossed the valley again to The Blue Elephant and last night I took my life in my hands and asked for a well done steak. Because it was a quiet night, the chef/proprietor took the order. He shook his head in the old familiar way. I put my hand on his arm, looked into his eyes and pleaded for a well done steak. He shook his head. I was just about to order a pizza when J butted in and in perfect French said my steak didn’t need to be cindered, just a bit more cooked than a medium but no blood. He shook his head and said something under his breath but then seemed to relent. Kitty ordered a pizza and then it was J’s turn.

“A steak with poivre sauce please”. ‘Non – no poivre sauce’, he said. “I’ll have the Roquefort sauce then”, she said. ‘Non – no Roquefort sauce’, was the reply. ‘But you always do a sauce on the steak’. We don’t now – it was too much trouble, nobody ever ordered it’.

At this point, I felt like pointing out that he had offered sauces on his steaks for the last 10 years so he’d obviously taken quite a bit of time to make that strategic culinary decision ….. but I didn’t.

J ordered a normal steak (without sauce) and then I pointed out that he’d raised his prices so that the ‘new’ price for a steak without sauce, was the price he used to charge with a sauce.

After picking her way through a dry steak, J offered the following observation: ‘We’re not coming back here’, she said. ‘But what about the steaks – well done, they’re delicious’, I said. ‘We’re not coming back’, I was informed!

Coincidentally, Nigel has been causing trouble in a restaurant as well. Read about it at the URL below:


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