Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Le Bec-Fin 1 Star Rating

As you may have read, on June 21st, my wife and I went to Le Bec-Fin. We were not pleased.

Here is a letter I just sent to the owner of the 5 Star Restaurant, Georges Perrier.

John Smiley
July 10, 2002

Mr. Georges Perrier
Le Bec-Fin
1523 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Dear Mr. Perrier:

At the recommendation of several of my friends and family members, my wife and I had lunch at Le Bec-Fin on Friday, June 21st at 11:30 in celebration of our wedding anniversary.

Everything I heard about your fine restaurant was true---and my meal of Snapper was wonderful. Unfortunately, my wife's meal was ruined and I am taking the opportunity to write you about it.

Prior to arriving at your restaurant, my wife and I had checked your web site, and I had decided ahead of time to order your fish of the day feature, and my wife had decided to order one of your Veal dishes. The day of our lunch, there was another Veal dish on your menu that did not appear on your web site--Veal Medallions--and that's what she ordered.

To start, we both had delicious tomato bisque. When our meals arrived, I dug heartily into my Snapper. She looked at her veal dish, and I sensed something was wrong. She ate a few pieces and asked me to taste it--I thought it was a delicious cut of veal--I honestly believed it was. She then remembered that the meal was to be accompanied by Asparagus---she didn’t see any, at that point became convinced that she had received the wrong dish. She called over one of the waiters, who apologized profusely and told her she had received Sweetbreads, and immediately set out to get her the correct meal.

I must tell you that as soon as she heard this, she turned a few shades of pale---she kept asking me what Sweetbreads were, and earnestly believed she had either eaten cow brains or intestines (later, when we got home, I learned that Sweetbreads most likely is the thalamus gland of a calf).

While she waited for her correct meal to arrive, I continued eating, not wanting to have my meal turn cold. Hers arrived 10 minutes later. At that point she ate a few bites, and stopped---as I said earlier, basically her meal had been ruined.

I must say that your staff was very apologetic---we received a 'complementary' dessert, which to me seemed strange, since dessert is included in the price of the lunch.

I'm writing to you in the hopes that you can prevent this from happening to someone else in the future. A friend of mine, who speaks French, suggested that the French words for Veal medallions and Sweetbreads are very similar--perhaps the waiter wrote the order in French. I do know that his last name was McNab, so somehow I doubt that's the explanation.

I know that you take pride in your restaurant, and it certainly appeared that your staff does too. Personally, if this had happened on my watch, I would have found another way to make it right besides offering us a complementary dessert.

Very Truly Yours

John Smiley