Led by Alain Ducasse and team, the French National Holiday of Restaurants (‘Tous au restaurant’) was created three years ago to honor French cuisine during a week of celebrations and culinary events. Gathering thousands of restaurants from all over France, the offer was simple: ‘your guest is our guest’. What an appealing promise!
Participating chefs list was impressive and included some of the best: Helene Darroze, Guy Savoy, Michel Rostang, Thierry Marx, Alain Ducasse and more… We were very excited about this event that was part of every foodies conversation. All of us ready for serial booking. The week of celebrations is coming to an end and as a result, we only tried one remarkable table: Helene Darroze. Here is what we liked and disliked.
We liked when restaurants played ball, the reduced bill and Helene Darroze restaurant.
During the National Holiday of restaurants, you usually had a fixed menu. At Helene Darroze, this was Foie-Gras crème brulée, followed by hake fillet with risotto in cuttlefish ink and chorizo sauce.
As a dessert, we had the fantastic creamy chocolate, white pepper Parfait and raspberry jelly.
We loved the suggested menu. Plus waiters asked if we were happy with it at the beginning of the service. They were ready to make some changes in case of allergy and to fit our taste. The restaurant played the game fairly and waiters offered impeccable service.
We didn’t like the inflated menu prices used by some – fortunately not all – restaurants and the booking experience on LaFourchette website during the event period. Especially for remarkable restaurants. For those tables, you had to book according to the booking schedule: one restaurant/one day/starting hour at 10.00 am. Well, that’s the theory. Actually, we tried to book 3 other restaurants in addition to Helene Darroze’s. First try, the restaurant supposed to appear at 10.00 never did. Organizers announced at 1.00 pm that the restaurant withdrew their consent to participate. Second, we were ready to book at precisely 10.00 am. Restaurant appeared at 10.01. We directly accessed the booking table and… no availabilities. Really? Third , we tried to book a table outside the remarkable restaurants booking process. We attempt to book a brasserie few days after booking start day. This was a beginner mistake. For this kind of event, you should definitely book on the first day.
Verdict: A great idea and a fantastic opportunity to try some remarkable restaurants… only when you able to book them 😦