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Lumiere


mamster
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Lumiere is getting excellent exposure from this. If anything, a thread like this would entice one to go and see for themselves.

High end properties like Lumiere are going to come with "very high expectations" and the deck is usually stacked against the restaurant before you get there. I too would be dissapointed if it did not measure up but I would certainly expect a Relais Gourmand to win back a unsatisfied guest who voiced concern.

In their defence, Lumiere has done much for the food scene and for exposing Canadian talent. However, I would not enjoy being in their shoes as it is a longer way down than up at this point in the game. If I was going to Lumiere I would want to know that Chef Feenie was in the kitchen. IMHO.

I would also expect that the unhappy egulleter would contact Lumiere to resolve the issue and see if they (Lumiere) try to recover the situation in a positive light before posting.

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I'm still trying to get the bad taste out of my mouth from dinner a few nights ago at LUMIERE.

Surely this was unnecessary.

I can imagine that perhaps in one or the other dish your exceptionally high personal expectations were not met, or perhaps you had a bad night, or perhaps you are from planet Klingon, but to say that you are "still trying to get the bad taste out" of your mouth after a meal at Lumiere must rank as one of the more egregious exaggerations ever posted in this forum.

I am new to Vancouver and have no real ties to the area, although I have seen Feenie on TV and I certainly look up to him for his culinary prowess. That said, I did not read any hostility in the original post. I thought it was clear that the poster was using the term "bad taste taste out of my mouth" as a figure of speech. You guys need to calm down.

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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I’m finding this thread very interesting. For the record, I’ve eaten at Lumiere once with the full-blown 9+ course tasting menu, and once at on the tasting bar side. The full-blown menu was the best meal of my life. Point of ref: no, I haven’t eaten at the Fat Duck or the French Laundry, though I have eaten the tasting menu at Trotter’s and I was definitely disappointed, I think in exactly the same way Foodie-Girl was – because my expectations were so high and because the bill was twice as much as I’d spent at Lumiere. CT’s food was good, a couple courses were great (dessert being one), the service was the best part of the night, but I sure didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth. This goes back completely to what James just said.

I think the Lumiere (big) meal was great because of the culmination of all of the ingredients that Edm and everyone else has talked about. Fresh, seasoned and cooked perfectly, innovative (at least to me, the unworldly diner), flow and rhythm spot on, service wonderful, no crowding / rushing / anything issues, etc.

The tasting bar dinner I had was also great, but for different reasons. Sparing details, it was not the second greatest meal I’ve had, but it was pretty damned good and it was a relative bargain.

Two things that I think deserving of note:

1. The meal Foodie-Girl had was the revamped 3-course prix fixe menu. This is a big reason why I’m so interested, because I think a major contributor to the greatness of my previous Lumiere dinner was the event of it. Nine courses. This is much more “grand” than three courses.

I’d like to try the new set-up, but you know what, in the back of my head I’m always thinking that I can get a pretty amazing three-course meal in a few other places around town for a lot less. For example, at West (early only), Cru, even Feenie's where it’ll set me back $35 pp.

Further, I can still get the tasting menu for $20 (vegetarian) or $30 (kitchen menu) more. I'm going to Lumiere, why limit myself to $100? Or another way to ask the question is, if you go to Lumiere or any place in this category, should you just give in and let them pick the menu?

2. Feenie’s is not synonymous with Lumiere. They are two completely different concepts. I know I seemingly contradicted myself just now, but the thing is that even though you can get a 3-course prix fixe at Feenie’s, is it going to be over-the-top amazing food? Probably not. (Maybe West or Cru would.) At Feenie’s, the red walls burning my eyeballs don’t bother me, the noise is fine for the place, and the crowd that frequents it is what it is. I still like the food. It is not “fine dining” so much as it is a gourmet spin on comfort food.

If you’ve made it this far, before you start wondering whether (or perhaps why) I’m defending Lumiere, I’m really not. All I’m wondering is whether the $100 for three courses is worth it, and if not, whether Rob shouldn’t go back to a full blown tasting menu only for this side of the restaurant. Thoughts?

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Hmm,

$100 for 3 courses is a bit too pricey. That would certainly lead to some problems if you were not serving really high end product.

I wrote too soon. I just went to lumiere's menu and why would anyone order a 3 course for $100 if you can get a full tasting menufor $130. Perhaps to discourage a la carte dining? I don't understand why anyone making the journey to Lumiere from a far would go to all the trouble just to have 3 course. Makes no sense to me.

Edited by James Kendal (log)
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I don't understand why anyone making the journey to Lumiere from a far would go to all the trouble just to have 3 course. Makes no sense to me.

My thinking is that not everyone (for example: myself) has a ton of money to spend on a nice dinner. If I'm going out for a dinner that's in the $100s, then a $60 difference (per couple) is quite substantial. Realistically, that's a week of groceries for us.

k.

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Kurtisk,

I understand where you are coming from but I do not see Lumiere as a place to just go for a nice dinner with friends.

It's an experience.

Oh, for sure!

BUT- If certain people can't afford the all-out tasting menu but can afford an alternative menu provided, I don't see any valid reason that they shouldn't be able to enjoy a restaurant's experience. If there is an option for someone on a budget to enjoy a high-end restaurant's experience, I think they should be able to enjoy their experience nonetheless.

I don't think that the experience should solely be for those on the highest budget, and obviously Lumiere feels the same way...

k

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Kurtisk,

Agreed, but where is the value in a 3 course @ $100, thats $60 entree and $25 app, $15 dessert :blink:

Menus like this discourage people from ordering and put pressure on them to go big. Quite frankly, Feenies is a better deal in that regard.

Again, TOTALLY! And that's what I would do. But sometimes, that $60 breaking point could be the difference in your budget, y'know? And IF you could still go to a restaurant that you've been dying to go to, then why not go for it?

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I think that $130 for the sampling menu is reasonable – $100 for three courses seems on the high side, although IMHO I would only be going “big” at Lumiere so I would not even consider the three course option. I say that $130 is reasonable because the French Laundry now changes US$175 which is 40% more than when I went in 2000 (chalk part of it up to inflation), Eigensinn Farm now charges a whopping $300 per person (as I found out recently at a benefit dinner in Toronto where Michael Stadtlander was a guest chef) and the last time I was at Susur here in Toronto they charged $150 or so (not sure what the price is now). The one thing that makes the French Laundry stand out in my mind from any other restaurant that I have been to since – noting that when I went there I did not know anything about the place other than what I had been told so I had no idea what to expect – is that I still remember every single dish that I had like it was yesterday. This is in my opinion what makes a place memorable. The only other place that I can say has came close to this experience was Jean Yves Schillinger’s place “JYS” in Colmar – price was about 60 Euro’s for the 6 course sampling menu. I am very glad that Margaret Zind-Humbrecht told us about this place the day we were at the winery in Turckheim earlier that day.

http://www.jean-yves-schillinger.com/

I have not had the sampling menu at Lumiere yet (only eaten at the bar and shot the shit with Neil and Sterns and others) and I intend to go regardless of what anyone says, since I firmly believe that each person is entitled to their opinion, just like I am, which is based on all sorts of different facts and benchmarks. Just my 2 cents.

The nice think about BC though is not having to pay an extra 8% tax on restaurant food. Damn it adds up here in Toronto.

Edited by mkjr (log)

officially left egullet....

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1. The meal Foodie-Girl had was the revamped 3-course prix fixe menu. This is a big reason why I’m so interested, because I think a major contributor to the greatness of my previous Lumiere dinner was the event of it. Nine courses. This is much more “grand” than three courses.

If you’ve made it this far, before you start wondering whether (or perhaps why) I’m defending Lumiere, I’m really not. All I’m wondering is whether the $100 for three courses is worth it, and if not, whether Rob shouldn’t go back to a full blown tasting menu only for this side of the restaurant. Thoughts?

Yes, I agree that going to Lumiere is an "event". If you have had Lumiere's 10 course tasting menu before, the 3-course is a bit of a let-down. Especially if one of the courses is not as good as expected, there are not many other courses to redeem the experience. Of course, the portions are larger and good for sharing, but the "special occassion" effect is somewhat diminished. I took my mother to Lumiere last month and have posted on this site:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...ndpost&p=929524

I can understand Foodie-Girl's disappointment especially after hearing so much about the place and having high expectations. As I stated in my previous post, my mother had a great time - it was her first time (she has no idea who Rob Feenie is and does not care), I've been there many times before and felt the 3 course dinner was not as satisfying as the original 10 course tasting menu. It's all so subjective.

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What he could do is, cut down on the size of the A la carte menu....using local ingredients he has sourced to farmers/growers etc.(doing exactly what he wants.).....but charge per item on the carte menu(you dont have to have 3 courses if you don't want to!)

Perhaps a smaller tasting menu would be better for consistency of quality.....Can anyone remember every single item in a tasting of 25 courses a la El Bulli??? fewer courses that are memorable, i would suggest 5. And some great affordable wines that have not been excessively marked up.

But dont listen to me because i would totally bankrupt the place! :wink:

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There's a value-concious alternative right next door, of course, where a dozen or so items can be sampled for $14 per course at the Lumiere Tasting Bar.

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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If a chef can charge $100 for 3 coarses I say "you go girl!"

Seriously, if you have a problem with the price, it don't order it. Obviously there is a market who will go for it, and we love peeps who will pay big bucks for less food.

cook slow, eat slower

J.Chovancek

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The theory is great, if you can truly astound every person every time. If you can be sure that everyone ordering feels like they really got a $100 experience.

The problem arises when someone who goes to Lumiere thinking oh boy is this going to be great, proceeds to order the 3 courses for $100, maybe experiences one off course - or meets one course that doesn't please the palate, and leaves with a bad taste in his mouth (feeling ripped off). Lumiere has just damaged its own reputation. Is this worth the extra one-time $65?

I am highly doubtful that Feenie sits back watching people order the $100 prix fixe thinking, "Sucker!" I am more likely to believe that he spends the odd night or two thinking about how he can make his restaurant better.

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The theory is great, if you can truly astound every person every time. If you can be sure that everyone ordering feels like they really got a $100 experience.

This is probably the only time I will sound like a capitalist ...

If you have a $100 tasting menu that disappoints, the dining public will vote with their feet, and pretty soon the place will be empty. Somehow, I don't see Lumiere ending up empty, wo either the $100 tasting menu will become a consistent performer, or it will be removed from the menu.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a union meeting to attend :rolleyes:

A.

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  • 2 months later...

Well - here I go. We had dinner last night at Lumiere at the suggestion of friends who had a gift certificate. We agreed that we would split the bill after the GC. There are 2 choices on how to dine - either the 9 course Kitchen Menu @$130pp or the 3 course prix fixe @ $100 pp. The trick is that the whole table has to have the same approach thus for a variety of reasons we went with the 3 course prix fixe.

To start with, our table was jammed beside a post which made service very akward and there was an extremely loud table beside us where 1 of the 5 diners (which included 2 pre-teens) were always up and wandering around so there were some distractions from the beginning. But as has been mentioned previously, expectations were high.

The amuse for the women was a yellow heirloom tomato gazpacho with shaved fennel and a choux pastry with a ricotta filling. The gazpacho was absolutely devine and a wonderful start. True tomato flavour - I could have eaten a whole bowl. The men had a tuna tartare and a panna cotta of ??(he can't remember) but it was orange in colour. He describes it as OK.

For the first course I had the famous dungeness crab ravioli with a truffled beurre blanc. Crab is not an overwhelming flavour to start with so it is easy to lose- especially if the pasta is thick and too a la dente. Which, unfortunately it was. A thin, ethereal barely-there pasta wrapping to hold the crab in place would have worked so much better. Each ravioli (there were 4) was served atop a perfectly seared half scallop. The beurre blanc was delicate with a confetti of extremey thinly shaved truffle - the taste of the truffle was very very muted. Hardly there - more flavour would have been evident from truffle oil. Nothing special and hard to believe this was an Iron Chef winner. One of the others had the foie gras and loved it.

My husband and I both had the roast salmon. The salmon was served with a smear of fennel puree and a green sauce - unfortunately totally unremembered because there was so little of it and it was otherwise tasteless. Or maybe the oversalted roasted salmon overwhelmed the taste. But the salmon, while not overdone, certainly was lacking in taste. Perhaps the fault lies in that incredible salmon I had at C earlier in the summer. On the plus side the salmon was moist; it was just flavourless, all I tasted was salt. With not much else on the plate one was left wanting.

Other choices at the table were the loupe de mer and the Angus strip loin on chanterelles. The beef was said to be OK - not anything special. It was served as 2 pieces about 6 inches in length, 1.5 inches wide and was cooked to perfection. Bright red-pink evenly throughout.

I had the peach with vanilla ice-cream for dessert. Enough said about dessert.

The wine list was very difficult for us. The other couple started with a 1/2 litre of the Balthasar Reisling and we each had a glass of Alamos chardonnay ($14 each). The only Pinot Noir in our price range was the 2004 Golden Mile Cellars PN; I was totally unprepared to pay $60 for a wine that I know is unremarkable and retails for $20. We ended up with a French Gamay. Light and very fruity - $72 (I think). The next price point was well into the $100's and out of our comfort zone.

Service is definitely very attentive - we had multiple people at our table throughout the evening. Absolutely nothing to complain about in that regard. My husband and I had our backs to the room so can't say too much about the decor. The place was packed, with people lined up outside the door - I assume for the tasting bar.

The total for the night with tip was $700 for 4. Was it worth it? Not for me and not when I compare it to other options for dining at this price point in Vancouver. West for sure would be a way better choice if you have this kind of cash to spend. Neither of us expected that we would have been looking at a tab this high and not have had our socks knocked off.

I know others have raved and maybe it was our fault for going with the 3-course option - perhaps the kitchen shines brighter on the 9 course menu. Did we say anything at the time? No - we were guests of a sort in that our friends treated us to the extent of their GC. And given the crush of people in the bar and the close proximity of the other tables I have no idea how we could have done this with any discretion. For me, I chalk it up to experience and at least I can now say been there, done that. And, I can honestly say without any hesitation, David Hawksworth and the experience at West is worth every single penny and every single time. My admiration for Chef Hawksworth just continues to grow and grow.

Cheers,

Karole

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After our very disappointing dinner at Lumiere earlier this summer, I feel your pain. It is still surprising to me how some can have an excellent experience at a restaurant and others find it falls far short of even moderate expectations.

Even if the food were better, the cramped, uncomfortable room would have been enough to put me off. Atmosphere plays at least a small part in fine dining...for me anyway.

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Though we didn't complain about anything we noticed the charge for wine was not on our bill and it was quietly explained that our waiter deducted it because he was aware of "problems with our meal". 

This might be beating a dead horse, and I might be expecting too much from a professional server, but out of all this discussion, this is the point that rankles me the most.

I would like to know if the explanation was given without asking or if Foodie-girl had to flag someone down. Am I dissecting this too deeply? The carcass of this old grey mare is almost 3 months old. I am slightly embarassed that I am joining in this discussion so late.

If an item has been removed from the check for whatever reason, the server must explain the removal to the guest. I hope this was the case.

If the server does not offer an explanation it puts the guest in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for one.

I have been in the situation of the 'sweaty waiter' knowing that a guest experience was not up to the standards of the restaurant or more importantly, the expectations of the guest. Walking through your section knowing that you've let someone down is a truly horrible experience. You develop a sixth sense and if a mood turns sour at a table, it is not easy to discern whether it is the product/ambience/service you are providing that has caused the shift of mood or whether it has nothing to do with the restaurant at all.

It sounds like the server knew there were "problems" with the product/ambience/service and yet did not or could not address them when they were occurring. All of this wasted energy and ill will could have been avoided simply by the waiter saying " I know you are not enjoying this. Let me take this foie gras away and get you something that you will like."

Simply removing the cost of an item from the check that was probably enjoyed does not make up for a dissappointing guest experience.

BTW, the water at C is $10.95 for 800 ml. That's $15.00 with tax and tip. I think that more restaurants should invest in commercial filters for their ice and ice water and provide a local alternative to wasteful bottled water. The water at C is Voss. Glacier water from Norway. We burn fossil fuel to ship the water here over the Atlantic and across Canada so that the the glacier will melt to provide us with a fantastic tasteless water. Where is the sense in that? At least we won't run out of melting glaciers anytime soon.

Had to edit this 'cause I didn't know how to use the quote mechanism and my original post didn't work. I am so not digital.

Edited by Bubbalicious (log)

Bob McLeod

VOX BACCULUS HIC VADIS IN VITRIO JUBILIAM

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

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  • 4 weeks later...

If anybody could answer my silly question this afternoon, it would be much appreciated...

Mamacat and her posse of out of town visitors are off to Lumiere tonight to celebrate a birthday. I, oh little cat of the big mortgage and the Marc Jacobs habit, do not want to cough up the asstillion dollars needed for a whole meal there. Plus, I have dinner plans already. I was thinking, though, that it might be nice to join the party for dessert and coffee at the end of the night.

Then I recalled the outrageous price of water mentioned in an earlier post, and realized that my little dessert and coffee could very well represent a sizeable chunk of change. Maybe even half a Marc Jacobs-shirt-on-sale amount.

Anybody know how much an a la carte dessert and coffee in the main dining room will set one back? If it's reasonable, I will make arrangements with the FOH to join the party at the appropriate point.

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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If memory serves me right I think the desserts were around $15 upto $18 (incuding coffee). You might want to double check with the FOH staff about joining your party later on. It can be tough to get them to allocate some extra chair/table space if busy in the main dining room.

Have fun.

Stephen

Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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Thanks guys, you rock!

The party is a wee table for 3, so space shouldn't be too much of an issue, assuming they are seated at a 4-top. All I have to figure out is the timing - if I can make there by dessert hour.

Thanks again :biggrin:

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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Desserts in the tasting bar are $7.50, in the dining room they are $12.00. A litre of water is $8.95.

How much are appies and entrées?

I wasn't aware that dishes could be ordered individually in the dining room, but rather as a 3-course set or either choosing the tasting menu.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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