Former Gourmet magazine Editor in Chief/novelist Ruth Reichl has avoided critiques of restaurants since her days as the restaurant critic for the New York Times. Typically, her blog posts are glowing notes about chefs and restaurants that she loves. But a recent meal at Alain Ducasse's one Michelin-starred Restaurant Jules Verne, which is inside the Eiffel Tower, caused the influential food writer to take to her blog with a scathing review. She writes: "It was, from start to finish, a miserable experience." Here now, the six worst lines from Reichl's blog post.
1. If you're not seated at a window, "you are in a room, dark as a nightclub, facing a black wall, so close to the surrounding tables you can hear them wishing each other happy birthday... I felt as if I had been transported back in time to one of those depressing seventies discos."
2. The service is awful: "I have never had such bad service in an expensive restaurant... It took forever for the wine to arrive. The amuse bouche - if you could call it that — was a little dish of stone cold gougeres. When we told the surly waitress that we thought they would taste better hot, she said testily that 'they can be served hot or cold, but if you'd like them hot I can warm them up.'"
3. Ducasse's promise of a fine, memorable meal — he is quoted on the menu: "I want to... ensure that the experience at Jules Verne remains in the memory of everyone. More than a restaurant, it is a place of dreams and memories." — makes Reichl "mad," because the food reminds her "of nothing so much as first class airline food."
4. "The bread was sad." Sad bread in France?!
5. Reichl describes the fish as gelatinous. The artichokes served on the side? They "were still clad in their indigestible outer leaves."
6. The first wine Reichl and company ordered had been 86'd. When their second pick was brought to the table, Reichl writes that it "was going through a second fermentation, and when we mentioned that the sommelier frowned and said repressively, 'This wine was chosen by M. Ducasse himself.'"
The best part of the meal? A tiny chocolate pastry that came at the very end.
Parisian restaurateurs: Heads up, Ruth Reichl is in town.