Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Pig(alle)-ing out: is this any way to treat a customer?

On Thanksgiving, a woman from New Hampshire ate at Pigalle, an upper-end French restaurant in Boston.

The pumpkin pie apparently left a bad taste in Sandy Tremblay’s mouth,where it lingered for several days before she decided to make a projectile comment on Pigalle’s Facebook page,

…angrily claim[ing] her pumpkin pie tasted like “vomit.” “Thanks for ruining my Thanksgiving!” she wrote. (Source: Boston Herald. (That’s right, The Herald.))

As anyone who dines out with any regularity is well aware, you can get served some pretty bad meals. Mostly, if you mention it, the restaurant will make good on it. Sometimes not. Still other times, they go all you-are-so-ignorant haughty on you.

Some of my standout recollections include:

  • A bottle of wine that tasted and smelled like formaldehyde.  The owner came out and very nicely explained that this “woody” (his word) flavor and odor were what this wine was all about. He then pleasantly suggested another bottle that he felt would be more in liking with our pedestrian tastes. It was. This restaurant was Italian, but chacun à son goût.
  • Shrimp that was well beyond its mulch-by day. This was on a Monday in a restaurant that was closed on Sunday, and they were obviously trying to palm off the last of the batch that they didn’t sell on Friday-Saturday. We had ordered this appetizer many times before, and knew what it was supposed to taste (an smell) like, so we weren’t having any of it. The waiter suggested that we order another appetizer, which we did. When he gave us the bill, he mentioned that the shrimp had been taken off. (Well, hello!) But we were sufficiently annoyed that a) they’d tried to get away with shrimp that was well beyond its use-by date to begin with, and b) that they didn’t give us the other appie for free, that we haven’t been back.
  • A legendary family meal taking my mother out for her birthday. When we got there, we were seated at a very small table. My brother-in-law mentioned that we had reserved a table for six. The maître d’ snottily told us this was a table for six. We had barely taken our cramped seats – truly, we almost had to sit sideways to fit, and we are hardly from The Land of the Giants – when we were told that someone else had  a reservation for this very table for 7:30 p.m., so we’d have to hurry it up. Even with the gulp-and-go, the food was passable. Except for my husband’s swordfish entrée – which I can still picture in my mind’s eye, maybe 20 years after the fact – grey, sloppy, soupy. By that point, we were all past caring, so we didn’t say anything, chalking it up to par for the main course. We were not surprised when this restaurant folded a few months later.

Anyway, the Pigalle patron should probably have complained then and there, rather than let the bad pie stew, and then spew her comment on FB. It would have been a better course to tell the restaurant in the moment, contact them (e-mail, phone) after the fact, or maybe even do a rant on Yelp, which would not have seemed quite so snarky as posting on their FB. But, hey, maybe the vomitous pie was just the icing on the cake for an overall dreadful experience.

Whatever Sandy Tremblay’s social media sins, what was truly over the top was chef/owner Marc Orfaly’s orfaly, orfaly angry reaction. Orfaly responded by calling Tremblay:

… “fat,” “uneducated” and “unintelligent” in a series of expletive-laced and misspelled rants.

The “series of bombs from Orfaly” included:

…“hey sandy ,(sic) go (expletive) your self(sic)!” he said, as well as: “you must enjoy vomit you (expletive) if you know how much it tastes like.”

…Orfaly later deleted his attacks, but they had already gone viral, sparking backlash from aghast patrons.

Orfaly has apologized, both publically and via phone call to Tremblay.

And now, sigh, they are Facebook friends. Tremblay is even “strongly” recommending trying Pigalle. (Too bad the pumpkin pie is no longer available…)

I dunno about taking her recommendation.

Pigalle is about a 10 minute walk from where I live.

I haven’t been there in years, but liked it well enough the few times I have eaten there.

But I don’t think I want to eat in a restaurant where an intemperate man, armed with a cleaver, might come storming out of the kitchen and call me fat and unintelligent if I told him that the wine smelled like formaldehyde.

Let the chef say whatever he wants when behind closed swinging doors, but this is no way to treat the clientele, in person or online, even if they do end up friending you later.

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