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Lumiere


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I've heard other complaints regarding the stupendous cost of mineral water at Lumiere. Seems the waiter pushes it to up the cost of the bill, taking adavantage of the customer not realizing how expensive it is.

Zuke

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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Seems the waiter pushes it to up the cost of the bill, taking adavantage of the customer not realizing how expensive it is.

Are you expressing first hand knowledge or an opinion? I'm not sure from what you said.

A.

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Seems the waiter pushes it to up the cost of the bill, taking adavantage of the customer not realizing how expensive it is.

Are you expressing first hand knowledge or an opinion? I'm not sure from what you said.

Hmm, it seems like an opinion to me. Otherwise no seeming, no?

Is the price of the water clearly posted? Is it even on the menu? I have been in perhaps two fine dining establishments where water, soda, etc. were priced on the menu. Now why could that be? Servers push drinks. For profit. Usually before you even open the menu. Restaurants want to make them as expensive as possible. In a very nice place, how gauche would it be to ask for prices? The social requirement to act like you don't care about the cost is very high in this setting. And it is exploited.

I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, because eveyrone knows. If you really care, maybe you should ask. But the restaurant does not tell you, and there's a reason for that. Anytime prices are hidden this is not in the interests of the consumer, I can tell you that. Maybe Lumiere isn't guilty of the deepest depths of this particular practice, but I don't think in any case it needs to be so strongly defended. And it seems to me this was clearly an opinion, although not one solely applicable to Lumiere.

If they really cared they would have comped the water too. Instead they kept the most profitable part. Totally greedy! Shame!

Edited by dillybravo (log)
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I know it's an old industry joke, but it never hurts to spell Evian backwards. :wink:

$36 for two large bottles of Pellegrino? WTF? That can't be right!

Love the lively discussion. Some honeymoon, eh Rob? :sad:

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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OK, here's my take on the water issue. I didn't think it would BE an issue.

We went to Lumiere thinking we would most likely each have one of the tasting menus...as this is our favorite way of fine-dining. I was happy to know they offered a vegetarian tasting menu because, though I love meat, I find it gives the chef the opportunity to be REALLY creative with the menu.

It also gives us the opportunity to taste a greater number of dishes.

We went to Lumiere fully expecting dinner to cost about $300 + given our cocktail/ wine bill would be relatively small...which it was. I think the half bottle of wine was $40 or so.

It never, in a million years dawned on me to ask the price of bottled water. Yes, I suppose I AM naive (love the Evian joke) but I was in SHOCK when I saw the charge on the bill.

Live and learn I guess......

Edited by Foodie-Girl (log)
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Bottled water has to be the biggest rip-off on the entire Planet. I buy my favorite at Trader Joes for $.99 a bottle and it's imported.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Yes, my comment about the water/waiter is an opinion. I'm drawing conclusions from exactly the kind of experience Foody Girl is talking about. Forewarned is forearmed. I love Lumiere based on the one precious experience I had there, but in this case I think they should have comped the water too.

There are many things that sooth the savage diner's breast- for example, a really good dessert on the house is one of them. If they had comped all the drinks the experience may not left such a bad taste in Foodie-Girl's mouth.

Zuke

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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Well, to be clear they were "full-size" bottles of S. Pelligrino in "regular" glass...LOL.

Until recently I drank wine and "water from the tap" so maybe I'm out-of-touch on the cost of bottled water.

No matter how good or bad the food is at a restaurant, charging 18$ for a bottle of water that costs at most about 2 bucks retail is absolute highway robbery.

Ok, call me anal, but I just called the restaurant and asked how much a large bottle of san pellegrino was. The person who answered the phone said it was 8.95 a bottle. Still ridiculous!!

Edit to add more info

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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A) Are we certain that San Peligrino is 18 bucks a bottle? Thta sounds waaaay too wild to be true. And if so, when Rob buys a beer at a Canucks game, does he say "pfft, nine bucks, why not give it away free." I'd imagine the staff at Lumiere consider movie theatre soda quite reasonably priced.

B) If so, who here would question it? I'm 99% certain that I would. And it doesn't even need to be a confrontational conversation. "Uhh, I think your computer has made an error, it charge me 18 bucks a bottle for water." then soto voce, "you can buy retail for 1.50." I almost guarantee that if the topic was broached in that fashionthey'd adjust/remove the bill. I wouldn't pay it. I'd also make it my mission in life to make said restaurantuers life miserable. I despise more than anything being "nickeled and dimed".

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I'm glad someone called the restaurant and clarified the price of the water. If my math is close to correct we were, in fact charged for 4 bottles.

Given the wine was "comped" it simply didn't occur to me to question the charge for the water...It seemed extremely high and in retrospect I should have inquired...

Edited by Foodie-Girl (log)
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Always something happening over in the Vancouver forum! I still don't know why y'all haven't gotten your real names in your sigs by now. It'd make things oh-so-much-more interesting in your little city by the sea....

To the matter at hand. foodiegirl, from what I can tell, Lumiere had an off-night, at least at your table -- and the staff were aware of it, hence the wine charge erasure. I'd sure hate to have to be judged to be a sham, publicly no less, based on one of my few but regular fuck-ups, especially if it were used as proof that all of the other times I'd done great work were bunk.

And while I ain't in your shoes, I don't know that I'd agree that you had such a bad experience -- or, rather, if it were me, I think that I'd be hopeful instead of pessimistic, or pissed, or whatever you are feeling. While it surely sucks to drop $300 for a less-than-stellar meal, I have to say that I'm very impressed that the staff was so in tune with your experience, so much so that they adjusted your bill. Based on that, and on the pretty damned strong reviews of this place on this forum, I'd want to give them another try, and when I got there, I'd tell the maitre'd about my previous experience, giving them a chance to right past wrongs. From what I've read around here, Chef Feenie seems just the sort to want to give you the experience you sought and deserved.

Anyway, my two cents. I'm just slummin' in the Vancouver forum, anyway, so feel free to ignore my buttinski tendencies! :wink:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Final thoughts....A big Thank-You to those who responded to my post with thoughtfully posed questions and comments...they are much appreciated.

transfattyacid...you are tooo funny!

As for the suggestion that I should give Lumiere another try I have to say that if I lived in Vancouver I most certainly would consider doing just that at a future time.

I think the problems with service were adequately addressed by the restaurant in terms of removing the wine charge. What happened with the bill for the mineral water remains to be seen. Given that our waiter seemed to be in a state of frenzy during the entire evening I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the over-charge was not intentional. I take responsibility for not questioning the charge. No matter....it was really the substance of the meal that created my disappointment.

Most people will agree that the appreciation of food is extremely subjective and I don't think my expectations were unrealistic. Given the rave reviews, not only in print, but by friends, colleagues that share my love of food I felt the meal fell flat. If it was an off-night so be it.

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Call me naive, but I don't see any problem with giving him the benefit of the doubt and offering some good faith criticism, in the spirit that he would respond in kind.

Well, I for one don't think that's naive. That is what we should be doing.

Foodie girl has a less than flavourful salmon at Lumiere, posts about it, others jump on the bandwagon and now we are composing ballads about the emporer having no clothes?? Does this not strike anyone else as a bit OTT?

I don't know Rob Feenie (although I sort of feel like I do from his current overexposure on the back of buses etc.), nor do I have shares in his business. But I have eaten at Lumiere a few times and the meals were as fine as any I have had in this town.

We discussed this at dinner last night and all agreed that what is currently happening on this thread is a bit of Schadenfreude - an untranslatable German word that describes the peculiar joy we sometimes derive from the misfortunes of others. (Conrad Black loses his shirt etc) Combine this with the highly developed Canadian "tall poppy" syndrome - and no wonder everyone jumps on the bandwagon to rubbish Lumiere because someone had a "less than stellar" meal there. It's like being nibbled to death by ducks.

I had better go and take my Prozac before I forget.

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Since apparently I've been branded a Lumiere-hater, I gotta say it.. I think Feenie is a great chef. I really enjoy a lot of his dishes. And I have had some of the best foie ever at his place, love that bar menu 4-way. Speaking of which Hawksworth foie parfait is awesome too. So there's one thing people manage to do top honours with.

That doesn't mean, however, that he might be packing the tables too tight and or pushing the expensive water too hard, and maybe he's had a misstep of late, or just one bad night. But almost anything I've eaten at Lumiere has been great. I haven't been in a while though.

As for Feenie's, that's another story...and because of it I now avoid Lumiere too. I'm gun-shy, what can I say? Is there anyone out there who hates Feenie's and still goes to Lumiere? If so let me know so I can go get me some good eatin'.

And I still think the R&C lowered the bar a bit because they needed some Canada in their book. You can get better for less if you look in some of the other sections.

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Pan-Seared Quebec Foie Gras in a (now here is where it gets weird) BBQ duck broth with enoki mushrooms. Now I happen to LOVE seared foie gras but when you put it in in a bowl of what amounted to SOUP it becomes...well, soft and loses the crispy crust. What a disaster!

Was this the first time that you had eaten a pot-au-feu of foie gras?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Was this the first time that you had eaten a pot-au-feu of foie gras?

Hey Jamie, did you like it (if you've tried it)? As I said it sounds pretty damn tasty to me too, complaints aside...and I do like his foie. So now I am sorely tempted to head on down and drop some coin. Look at that, criticism -> sale! Who would've guessed?

Someone stop me before I go, blow a gasket, report back and get banned or something. Anyone know when the Feenster'll be back in the kitchen again?

Also Jamie I think you are maybe being a bit unfair. I too was a little suspect of the foie complaint, but I am willing to hazard that even if it was the first time, if it had been really good, that wouldn't have been an issue. Then again, the substance of the complaint seems to be that foie shouldn't be in soup... So Foodie-Girl...did it taste good anyway? Just the lack of crust that bugged you? Or was it crappy no matter how you slice it?

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Was this the first time that you had eaten a pot-au-feu of foie gras?

Hey Jamie, did you like it (if you've tried it)? As I said it sounds pretty damn tasty to me too, complaints aside...and I do like his foie. So now I am sorely tempted to head on down and drop some coin. Look at that, criticism -> sale! Who would've guessed?

Someone stop me before I go, blow a gasket, report back and get banned or something. Anyone know when the Feenster'll be back in the kitchen again?

Also Jamie I think you are maybe being a bit unfair. I too was a little suspect of the foie complaint, but I am willing to hazard that even if it was the first time, if it had been really good, that wouldn't have been an issue. Then again, the substance of the complaint seems to be that foie shouldn't be in soup... So Foodie-Girl...did it taste good anyway? Just the lack of crust that bugged you? Or was it crappy no matter how you slice it?

I was simply asking a question. For some people the pot-au-feu treatment may be an acquired taste, especially for those expecting the more typical (in North America especially) treatment of seared foie gras accompanied by a condiment of slightly soured fruit: rhubarb compôte et al.

A pot-au-feu of foie gras is traditionally served with duck broth and is often bound with wilted Savoy cabbage. Here's a recipe from Quebec that is typical of the genre. Personally, I think the highest and best use of duck foie is in a terrine with hot toast points with a glass of cold Sauternes. For that get thee to John van der Lieck's Oyama Sausage Company on Granville Island--it's a very well-made product.

But I choose not to eat foie gras much anymore (unless I'm in Quebec), for this reason:

The lack of information on foie gras de canard production (for much goes on behind closed doors) prodded me to see for myself in the summer of 2003.

Encore un Foie?

I’m certainly no expert on the production of foie gras, and, as much as I love the stuff have become an infrequent eater of it, especially after it became so very ubiquitous, even in inexpert hands (it deserved much better), a decade or more ago. I regret that it lost its purity, became a plaything -- even a cynical hamburger fixing.

Whereas in France foie gras is a natural wintertime celebratory food (much is consumed between Christmas and New Year's), in North America it has become commodified, an item for Robb Report readers to add to their iconic lists like a vertical of Petrus, the lists that speak to excess cash flow seeking social validation. But not to sound a snot, for even if this class is bereft of good taste, let's assume that more than one of them knows what tastes good. Although some might say that these type of people only had kids so they could get pre-boarding, I have no opinion on the subject.

But not to confuse the issue: Most people, especially those with more than a passing interest in food, eat foie gras because it is delicious and because its unctuous texture is like no other.

Foie gras may soon join Chilean sea bass, swordfish, bluefin tuna and Caspian caviar amongst the verbotten for the Prius set, not for reason of endangerment, but rather for perceived cruelty. But what had struck me as I read the little available literature on the subject was the lack of firsthand information. Most people rendering their opinion, on either side of the issue, had not, it appeared, set foot anywhere near a foie gras production facility.

It's safe to say that the foie reared in Quebec is exemplary; indeed many Canadian and American chefs who have worked with the three main products (Sonoma, Hudson Valley and Quebéçois) believe it the best foie product on the continent. I had the opportunity to inspect two foie gras de canard farms in Quebec last summer and was even allowed entré into the inner sanctum--the gavage sheds--which, for reasons of disease control and increasing political sensitivity, are usually off limits.

The first farm, south of Montreal, was a fairly large scale commercial operation that is licensed to export product extra-provincially and into the US (and in fact supplies many eastern seaboard US restaurants). It was an unfettered production line with all stages of the process carried out in a carefully controlled environment. Diet, heat, humidity and light were fastidiously calibrated and constantly monitored by computer. It was also a scrupulously clean operation; the main fear being, because of the close quarters, a systemic outbreak of disease.

As the ducklings matured toward gavage, their pre-migratory instinct to gorge was seemingly tricked into action (no matter the time of year--I was there the day before St. Jean-Baptiste Day in late June) via the steady diminishment of light and heat (imitating shorter autumn days), and diet deprivation followed by a spate of abundant feed; deprivation; feed.

The gavage stage (heavily air-conditioned and humidified) was clinical but expertly managed (the speed of the technique is not learned overnight) from a mechanically-forced machine that follows the operator, although the ducks were held in restrictive individual pens within a shed the size of a small warehouse. The actual gavage took just a few seconds. The shed was cold and wet, and the ducks were certainly not running to be fed -- they couldn't budge. The pens were suspended above frequently flushed concrete floors; the shed smelled much as you might expect.

Although the ducks did not appear to protest the gavage, which, again, was both swift and expert, there is simply no way—short of inviting Dr. Doolittle to the party—to know. (A little like being at the dentist with wadding and a rubber dam in your mouth when he asks you the quality check question). But neither did we see any evidence of animals squealing or otherwise behaving in an obviously distressed manner.

Although I asked on more than one occasion, the precise (mainly corn) composition of diet for the ducks is closely guarded; it would be unfair to speculate what, if any, medications might or might not be added to their feed. But it was obvious even to an outsider that bacterial or viral disease could be commercially lethal to this type of closed facility.

What struck me most about this operation though, was the very large size of the finished liver. At over 600 grams, the liver distends below the animal’s ribcage and has an exterior appearance, prior to their trip to the abbatoir, not unlike a human hernia poking through skin. This is the portion of the liver most likely to be damaged or bruised, et voila--pate.

All of the parts of the duck carcass were packaged and sold, in large part to restaurants: the foie, trimmed breasts, legs en confit, pate, and the carcass for stock.

The second farm, located near Quebec City, was a somewhat different story. This smaller producer, which used smaller, old (and picturesque) wooden sheds and barns, also revealed a slightly different methodology. The ducklings (hatched off-site) were allowed free range in outdoor pens before being moved indoors to the manipulated environment. But even that seemed a little friendlier: at this stage the ducklings were still allowed to roam in quite large rooms.

The gavage was similar to the prior operation, but with an important difference: the feed was stopped when the livers were estimated to be at the 400 to 450 gram stage of growth for slaughter, and before any obvious distension had taken place. For regulatory reasons (and much like many of the province’s wonderful cheeses), their product is not available outside of Quebec, the only Canadian province where it is legal to produce foie gras de canard.

The chef with whom I was traveling, Jean-Luc Boulay, who operates a restaurant in Quebec City called Le Saint’Amour, visited this operation regularly, as much, I came to feel, for his interest in the welfare of the animals as for the quality of the finished (smaller) product that they gave up. He seemed convinced that the smaller livers were superior—less likely to be granular—and that the ducks knew no suffering. Boulay regularly serves several variations—typical might be a homemade terrine with Sauternes jelly and fig pulp; squab stuffed with fresh foie gras; or foie gras seared with fleur de sel, its pan deglazed with cranberries and mango chutney. One can also order a foie gras plat combining several of these.

Without for a minute wishing to prejudice anyone, having seen these two producers, I wouldn't eat from a foie over half a kilo. And because in a restaurant setting that’s nigh on impossible to verify, I choose to eat it no more. But that’s an entirely personal choice, albeit one I regretfully add to a growing list of other much-missed foods, especially that other luxe one, Caspian caviar.

In fact, the last foie gras I ate was in Quebec City, early last summer, from the hand of the master Boulay. It was generous and seared quickly in a hot iron pan, with a top knot of good salt and a fresh, barely warmed compote of rhubarb that put sweaters on my teeth. Those perfect combinant flavours, plush under their crust and tinctured with the rhubarb, melted away slowly, and then forever.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Yes, first time I had it and it was not described on the menu as a pot-au-feu (which would have given me a better idea of what was to come and given me cause to chose something else. It's listed as :Pan-Seared Quebec Foie with BBQ Duck Broth, soybean, enoki mushroom and Seaweed Salad.

The foie sort of disintegrated into the broth. The fois was definitely cooked through rather than seared rare which (for me) gave it more of a "liver floating in broth" dish.

The soggy, over-cooked foie seemed a long way from the menu description.

Edited by Foodie-Girl (log)
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Yes, first time I had it and it was not described on the menu as a pot-au-feu (which would have given me a better idea of what was to come and given me cause to chose something else. It's listed as :Pan-Seared Quebec Foie with BBQ Duck Broth, soybean, enoki mushroom and Seaweed Salad.

Thanks for your response. Salary Man Pot-au-feu!

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I had a delicious eel w/seared foie and daikon in a dashi broth at Umami on Davie and it was fucking killer. I also enjoy the ubiquious offal wrapped in a spicy cabbage and steamed. The beast is fully cooked and great in broth.

The bottom line is that there are many ways to peel a carrot and many ways to cook foie. How one appreciates the textue/flavour is their thing.

The real issue is not the appreciation/lack of appreciation for the cooking, but it is dealing with the feeling of being ripped off. At this level of resto/price one should not feel jipped.

Foodie-girl, i am wondering if you voiced your lack of gastro pleasure to the managemant at Lumiere. I am sure they would have done more than comping the half bottle.

I have eaten some really bad food in good restos. And I tell them. Usually the staff will go the extra mile to turn your experience around.

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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Yes, first time I had it and it was not described on the menu as a pot-au-feu (which would have given me a better idea of what was to come and given me cause to chose something else. It's listed as :Pan-Seared Quebec Foie with BBQ Duck Broth, soybean, enoki mushroom and Seaweed Salad.

Thanks for your response. Salary Man Pot-au-feu!

HEY! My Pot-au-feu (in Alsace) didn't have foie gras....rather it was a HUGE cauldron, in the middle of the town I was staying, with boiling chicken stock in it that the locals all brought and poached different animal parts, vegetables and starches. I did not know it refer to a specific dish, rather then a process (peasant celebration) of preparing food...

I might add, foie gras would not be within 50 miles of this preparation.

...just my input, for whatever it is worth.

Brian.

Edited because pheasants are not peasants...

Edited by Chef Fowke (log)

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

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HEY! My Pot-au-feu (in Alsace) didn't have foie gras....rather it was a HUGE cauldron, in the middle of the town I was staying, with boiling chicken stock in it that the locals all brought and poached different animal parts, vegetables and starches. I did not know it refer to a specific dish, rather then a process (peasant celebration) of preparing food...

I might add, foie gras would not be within 50 miles of this preparation.

...just my input, for whatever it is worth.

Brian.

Just as love arrives in many forms, so too Pot-au-Feu.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Michel Guerard uses duck foie in a recipe for pot-au-feu in his book Cuisine Gourmande(v. good btw) but he is in the Landes region, which specialises in this product! Local/seasonal again.

Also had duck foie with squid & it's broth at Olivier Roellinger in Brittany...not bad but have preferred other preparations! I'm with Jamie on the terrine front, although i had to make a smoked foie gras terrine(cooked sous vide) didn't work for me....au naturelle!

Edited by seanw (log)
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