Au Trou Gascon - Of Armagnac, Spidergirl, and 'How much did you say that coffee costs?'

I’ll take a lesson from our waitress and be quick. The effusive reviews led us to the 12th, on the cusp of the 14th, for what we expected to be an outstanding dining experience. Overrated. Major disappointment. Bah, humbug.

As Frommer’s put it, ‘one of Paris's most acclaimed chefs, Alain Dutournier, lures fashionable palates to an unchic area.’ Yes, our fashionable palates were indeed lured, to an unchic area and a restaurant with chic pretensions. I admit, the chef made an effort and I suspect some menus are better than others. Maybe you’ll have better luck. On this occasion, Mortstiff & Co. opted for the 50 euro five-course ‘Diner Gourmand. ' Here it is, direct from Trou's website:

Sounds pretty fantastic doesn’t it? Well, I'm starting to get the impression that any meal sounds good in French. I’d give high ratings only to the pigeon – a disgusting bird that I swore never to consume, especially following that little episode at the house last year when pigeons took over the roof and before you knew it, we needed an umbrella to disembark, particularly on sunny days. But if you’re going to be a restaurant critic, I’ve learned it’s important to forgive and forget. So, my dear pigeon friends, you are now fare game. And I must admit, the slab of pigeon filet was pretty tasty – slightly bloody, and accompanied by two interestingly prepared cannellonis stuffed with vegetables. If only the rest of the meal had been prepared with equal care. The scallops and endives weren’t bad, but the rest was pretty mundane. The ‘gambas’ turned out to be ‘gamba,’ as in ‘une.’ Dish four, the ‘faiseselle pastorale’ sounds tasty, but it was nothing more than a square of yogurt and honey.

The room isn’t bad, with tables nicely spaced apart, and as advertised over

at Frommer’s, there is indeed a ‘fabulous collection of Armagnacs,’ impressively

taking up a full bookcase. I shut the digestif menu pretty quickly, though, after glancing at a 60 euro price tag for a glass. Good thing – I needed the spare euros to afford the two coffees that followed our meal – rounding out to an even 12 euros. The cakes you see to the right were taken from another blog written by a more satisfied Trou diner. These are the cakes we did not receive with our coffees. Instead, accompanying our 12-euro coffee finale was a little bowl of those chocolate-covered coffee beans. Yawn.

To cap off the evening, I contemplated strangling our waitress. Spidergirl was extremely efficient – the second I took my last bite of a dish and placed my fork on the plate, there she was with uncanny speed to take away the woebegone plate, lest the memory of the dish linger any longer than necessary. Dishes were delivered, not a word of explanation spoken, unless I was able to ask quickly enough – alas, only for the pigeon. At one point, a fork flew out of her hand before she could place it next to a plate. Earth to Spidey – calm down!

Overall note (out of 10) : 6-
Food : 6-
Ambiance : 5 (open those curtains and let some life in!)
Service : 3 (Welcome with a smile, efficient but uninformative server must have had a plane to catch)

Note : For restaurants like Trou that aspire to great heights, as in Michelin stars, it's not uncommon to offer the coffee at the end of the meal, a gesture that helps develop a nice relationship with potential loyal customers. To overcharge for a thimble of mediocre java adds insult to injury.

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