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Thread: Nouvelle Cusine....

  1. #1
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    Nouvelle Cusine....

    Actually, I should have known better, the restaurant, after all, was called "Arte"....

    So, our neighnors last night suggested we dine out at a new restaurant, and my wife, excitedly, said her girlfriends had been eulogizing it (another warning light should have lit...) and she was looking forward to trying it out.

    So with my stomach rumbling in pleasant culinary anticipation, we parked in front of the restaurant. It looked more like a small temple than a restaurant, and as we entered with our friends, the atmosphere was hushed, not the usual loud rumbling noise of a good old trattoria, where mama is busily cooking the most decilious pasta plates.

    The inside looked more like a cocktail lounge, with expensive abstract art hanging on the walls. "Look" gushed my neighbor's wife, "isn't that exquisite..." pointing sotto voce at a huge oil painting consisting of random blotches of color. "Oo, oo" I began to think.

    We were ushered to table (the chairs were expensive,chic and very uncomfortable). Immediately two waiters floated up to our table, high priests of nouvelle cusine. "Rats, trapped..." I thought panicking realizing what was in store for me. (Yes, I was hungry)

    They brought us huge menus, the size of a daily newspaper, with a flourish. The entries were all in French of course, and each entry was a paragraph long, and the prices astronomical.

    Beginning to feel desperate (starvation is a horrible thing...), I searched for something substantial. We ordered. I asked for gnocchi (the least exotic item on the menu) and a tuna fish dish.

    It was very silent in the restaurant. Next to us sat a couple, who hardly spoke to each other, sitting upright and stiffly (like embalming dummies). She had an elaborate Madame Pompadour wig, and he looked like something out of a Monty Python show. Good grief! No mama, here, no lusty good old Italian food...

    The offered us a free taster: I needed a magnifying glass to see it, but the description of what it was lasted a full three minutes. My wife (who says she is on a diet, but doesn't need to be...), looked up at me with enthusiam, with a "gosh, isn't this great..." expression. I heard my stomach rumbling with protest at the sight of the microscopic starter.

    The following plates were in the same vein: huge plates, "artistically" decorated, accompanied by the "oohs" and "aahs" of our wives. As I began to grumble, my wife gave me a warning glance, accompanied by a swift kick to my shins with her pointed high heeled shoes (which hurts darn it, so I decided to hold my peace...).

    The tuna fish (instead of being a nice big steak-like piece) consisted of three postage stamp-sized pieces garnished with tiny herbs....

    To add insult to injury, across the street, was a noisy Italian restaurant, where I could see people laughing and digging into enormous plates of pasta, fettucine, risotto e funghi and good old chianti (not some high priced, dusty bottle of french wine...).

    The only thing which was not tiny was the bill: the two of us paid 250 dollars! Leaping Lizards!

    I know only one thing: they will never catch me there again. Once home I raided the fridge, and made myself a nice salami sandwich...

  2. #2
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    Sure, it's French, but there's an "i" missing from cuisine (in the title too). Maybe you left it out deliberately to show how little food they served.
    As above, so below

  3. #3
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    "Nouvelle cuisine" is French for "Waiter! There's NO FOOD on my plate!"

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    Most restaurants have menus with the prices listed. In fact most restaurants post these menus at the front door so people can see the cuisine and the prices.

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    I actually like this kind of restaurant sometimes. It's interesting to see what the chef can create that is interesting and new, taste combinations and textures that you'd not normally get.

    The portions are small, but it's normal to have a high number of courses to compensate, with it being reasonably normal to have seven, eight, or even nine, plus something to cleanse the palate between each one.

    I agree that the fact that it is so quiet in some is a bit strange; when my friends and I would go, it would generally be a fun night out, with plenty of talk and laughs, but some people seemed to want to treat it like it was a church. I suspect that a lot of these, though, had been saving up for what was a very unusual treat, and wanted just to concentrate on the food itself, savouring every bite. The waiters and owners themselves don't try to foster quiet, it was the other customers who chose to be like that.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Sure, it's French, but there's an "i" missing from cuisine (in the title too). Maybe you left it out deliberately to show how little food they served.
    Yes, I know...

    Just shows an underlying antipathy to French food....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHalcyonYear View Post
    Most restaurants have menus with the prices listed. In fact most restaurants post these menus at the front door so people can see the cuisine and the prices.
    Not all of the "chic" restaurants here in Switzerland....

  8. #8
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    It was very silent in the restaurant.
    Seems no one else was enjoying it either. I wonder how long they'll stay in business...

    Next to us sat a couple, who hardly spoke to each other, sitting upright and stiffly (like embalming dummies). She had an elaborate Madame Pompadour wig, and he looked like something out of a Monty Python show...

    The offered us a free taster: I needed a magnifying glass to see it


    Yes, the over-rated is usually just that. I don't have lots of experience with "high end" stuff, but usually something (most often a place) that's bragged up turns out to be a disappointment.

    You paid good money to dine there, and it's a shame you walked away still hungry.

    To add insult to injury, across the street, was a noisy Italian restaurant, where I could see people laughing and digging into enormous plates of pasta, fettucine, risotto e funghi
    Yes, that would be aggravating.
    Dip me in ink and toss me to the Poets.

  9. #9
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    If it makes you feel any better, we went out and I got a large, greasy-to-perfection Philly steak sandwich, with fries, with soft pretzels with cheese dip as an appetizer.

    Oh, and I paid about 15% what you did.

    I like fancy, gourmet foods; but too many places confuse that with "artsy" presentation and no substance.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    I know only one thing: they will never catch me there again. Once home I raided the fridge, and made myself a nice salami sandwich...
    I said that to myself a couple of weeks ago in Paris, when their "Ravioli aux Cpes" consisted of five(!) pieces of ravioli accompanied by the same number of mushrooms, a microscopic branch of herb and some drops of a whipped topping.

    I love Italian portions.

  11. #11
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    And I forgot to mention, that being the eternal optimist, I ordered three balls of ice cream for desert. They were served, of course, on a huge plate and were grape-sized!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Argos View Post
    I said that to myself a couple of weeks ago in Paris, when their "Ravioli aux Cpes" consisted of five(!) pieces of ravioli accompanied by the same number of mushrooms, a microscopic branch of herb and some drops of a whipped topping.

    I love Italian portions.
    I was served a single one in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant a while back.

    I debated with the waiter weather the menu ought to have said raviolus, as surely ravioli is plural, but I'm not sure that he really understood.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernBoy View Post
    I debated with the waiter weather the menu ought to have said raviolus, as surely ravioli is plural, but I'm not sure that he really understood.
    Good one.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    ...So, our neighnors last night suggested we dine out at a new restaurant...
    Fruedian slip? Neener-neener...

    I have a hard enough time with plain old specialty restaurants. I have too many relatives that can't get enough of Bonefish Grill. Not saying it's bad, but I sure can get enough of it.
    Everytime I go there, I want to ask the wait staff to go next door to the Outback and get me a T-Bone.

    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    ...Leaping Lizards! ...
    Around here, they tend to wink.

  15. #15
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    My preference in restaurants is those that serve all-you-can-eat spareribs followed by all-you-can-eat ice cream with coffee
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  16. #16
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    I am convinced nouvelle cuisine was invented so that chefs could laugh at customers.

  17. #17
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    A restaurant is not a church. Food will not give you salvation. Remember that, in twelve hours or less, where the food ends up.

  18. #18
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    There's all kinds of french food. You didn't find Julia Child eating nouvelle
    fool ya cousine in Paris or anywhere else in France. It is a caricature of food,
    a bizare cartoon for people on a 43 calorie diet and a 23 calorie head.
    Once you have enjoyed the real thing.... well, fool me once and I won't be back.
    Don't participate.
    Last night, we dined for four people at Chateu Moi .......4 ...2 lb lobsters,
    2 pounds of steamers , 8 prawns, asparagas and new potatoes....\
    with desert for $72. Wine was extra....$9 reiseling.
    And we didn't work very hard at all. Really. With music.

    Best regards,
    Dan

  19. #19
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    I had a similar experience with a tapas restaurant. My brother had a gift card for that restaurant, so that took a bit of the sting out of it, but we were still disappointed. There is a French restaurant within walking distance of my house. Maybe some day I'll try it. I just hope that they are more into the food than the presentation, if you get my drift.

    My suggestion to gzhpcu: next time you and your friends go out to dinner, go to that Italian restaurant across the street. I'm sure you'll all be happier there.

    Also, your experience could have been worse -- at least the lights were on and nobody was eating forbidden birds under a cloth!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    Last night, we dined for four people at Chateu Moi .......4 ...2 lb lobsters,
    Maybe the French spellchecker isn't working on this board. Chateau?
    As above, so below

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    It is a caricature of food,
    a bizare cartoon for people on a 43 calorie diet and a 23 calorie head.
    Hmm. That's one view. The other is that it can be the best chefs showing their invention.

    It can be about enjoying the flavours, textures, and contrasts, and is always about the quality of ingredients.

    I assume that the "23 calorie head" reference is supposed to insult the intelligence those of us who like it, which seems quite a strange thing to do on here.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celestial Mechanic View Post

    My suggestion to gzhpcu: next time you and your friends go out to dinner, go to that Italian restaurant across the street. I'm sure you'll all be happier there.
    You are preaching to the choir... living in Southern Switzerland, close to the Italian border, I mostly choose Italian restaurants (except for once a month when I have hamburger withdrawal and go to Burger King...). But it is "chic" down here to go to Nouvelle Cuisine restaurants. I will offer more resistance next time...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Maybe the French spellchecker isn't working on this board. Chateau?
    Or we need a French version of Gillianren....

  24. #24
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    According to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the nouvelle cuisine has been invented by Famine, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (He has also invented junk food and owns the "Burger Lord" chain. )
    (English is not my first language, so please excuse any mistakes and unintended ambiguities.)

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Actually, I should have known better, the restaurant, after all, was called "Arte"....
    I knew it! I knew it!

    I could smell that place from here, gzhp...avoid like the plague.
    Even as I hit your second paragraph, its poseyness comes through in all its fragrance.

    Just last night I was reading a review of exactly such a restaurant, open here, in Mayfair (one of the posey suburbs)...I thought you did write that article, for a moment. Although I think it would've been a few dollars more than your tab...but you get to feast your eyes on some "great paintings" and stuff on the walls...and don't mind the waiting staff (like yours), dripping with condescension...

    It's like being stuck in total darkness with overcast skies

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    I am convinced nouvelle cuisine was invented so that chefs could laugh at customers.
    So it's dadaist cuisine?

  27. #27
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    I also had the experience of microscopic portions on oversized plates (which purportedly supply enough room for artistic arrangement), in an open air restaurant near the Munster in Strasbourg/Alsace. It was slightly better but not much in the French restaurant in the world village of Epcot center/FL.

    Ever since, I avoid restaurants, no matter what the average price of their dishes is, that have:
    - a menu completely in French
    - white linen, folded napkins and a battery of sparkling glasses already on the table
    - a maitre d' or a sommelier
    - "reservations recommended"
    - people wearing anything more formal than business casual
    - anything on the menu announcing "at" (German: "an") this-and this sauce.
    The latter simply means that there will be a dime-sized dollop of this sauce/gravy leaning against the course.
    No no, give me smothered in anytime!
    And please, even IF the portions are bigger, it is *I* who knows best when to refill the plate, not some garcon who gives me just another little little bit from some silver bowl.

  28. #28
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    I'll just comment that my favorite all-you-can-eat spareribs followed by all-you-can-eat ice cream restaurant is "reservations recommended".
    I'll also note that I do have to tell them to start frying the next pig when I get the servings, otherwise they'll wait until I finished them to ask if I want another.
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  29. #29
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    Philistines

    The other night I had north carolina smoked rainbow trout with braised olives and pickled tomatoes, potato agnolotti, charred leek vin blanc, and it was awesome. Almost as good as the wyoming blackened trout with blackened potatoes and blackened corn on the cob and blackened toast I had last summer.

  30. #30
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    I'm guessing your trout came in slightly more than pea size and with more than half a potatoe.
    __________________________________________________
    Reductionist and proud of it.

    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. Benjamin Franklin
    Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails. Clarence Darrow
    A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. Mark Twain

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