June 27, 2001
From beginning to end, it was an unpleasant experience. At other three-star restaurants, we have ben greeted warmly and treated as if we here guests in someone's home. The greeting at Au Crocodile was chilly. Please note that we were nicely dressed (silk blouse and pearls for me, coat and tie for my husband) and I speak enough French to get by just fine in a restaurant. Along with a table of nicely dressed Japanese ladies, we were seated at the very back of the dining room, at the entrance to the kitchen, even though there were other, better located tables that remained vacant through the entire lunch service. We each ordered a glass of champagne to start while we studied the menu. We each ordered the fixed-price menu. This menu offered a wine-pairing -- an appropriate glass of wine for each course. The waiter turned his nose up when my husband ordered this option and I said I was not having wine. His nose got even higher in the air when I asked for tap water instead of bottled. (Now, this was not only normal but done by many apparent locals in the dining room.)
We were served an amuse bouche of two very clashing flavors: a small cup of sweet melon soup and a cherry tomato stuffed with strong goat cheese. Frankly, I do not even remember the appetizer. (I wrote this journal from notes, then threw out the notes. Then, the journal mysteriously disappeared from IgoUgo.) The main course for both of us was blanquette of veal, normally a delicate white-sauced veal stew. It was bland and gluey, reminiscent of cafeteria food. The desserts were literally inedible. My husband had what was supposed to be a mocha cake. It tasted only of very bitter coffee. After one bite, he was done. I ordered rhubarb gratin with strawberries. The rhubarb was a gray-green mush with a few slices of strawberries for garnish. The whole thing was too tart to eat. I, too, took only one bite and pushed it away. We did not stay for coffee.
Service throughout the meal was without graciousness or grace. Dishes were plopped on the table without the traditional announcement of what they were. No one seemed to care that we were eating little of what was served, though at a restaurant of Au Crocodile's purported quality, the servers should have been quite concerned. A three-star restaurant is supposed to offer the best of atmosphere, service and cuisine. Au Crocodile failed in all three categories. We've had better food and service at no-star bistros all over France for a fraction of the price.
From journal France with a German Accent