A recent New York Times article, “A Quest to Make Gruff Service in France More Gracious” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/world/europe/can-the-gruff-frenchman-become-the-gracious-frenchman.html?pagewanted=all talks about French waiters’ penchant for being curt and sometimes just appearing plain rude. Then it mentions the Brasserie de l’Isle St. Louis. It also made me think of Yves Montand in the 1983 Claude Sautet movie, Garçon in which the great French actor and entertainer is an aging waiter who still dreams of becoming a singer though working in a cafe most of his life.
When living and working in Paris in the 1970s I would go to the Brasserie de l’Isle St. Louis whenever I had enough money to spend on a nice meal. It was right across the Seine from the flying buttresses at the rear end of Notre Dame cathedral. They served room-temperature brown ale on tap, and I loved their choucroute garnie, their wonderful cassoulet, and in Spring they had a salade called “pis en lit” (piss in your bed), made up of young dandelion leaves, a white vinegar and bacon fat dressing, and thick lardons, thick Canadian-style bacon. So tasty.
I speak French so I never had any questions. But I imagine that French waiters get some pretty dumb questions. “Is the baguette gluten-free? Is there any dairy in the soup?” No wonder the waiters get impatient and gruff. I can’t say I blame them.
Below, a picture of the Brasserie and of Yves Montand. And of the dishes I enjoyed so much there!