In the dog house
Once you’ve been coming to Paris for a few years to cover the trade shows you begin to get a sense of the place – its history, its culture and most importantly the good places to eat.
Within defence circles there are definitely favourite stalwarts on the restaurant scene and last night following a hard day at Eurosatory this intrepid reporter set out by company invitation to a media dinner at one of his favourites Au Chien Qui Fume, salivating at the thought of having my favourite rabbit casserole.
Having been to the restaurant many times in the last decade and a half there was no real need to take a look at the address, and with two of my colleagues I set out on the RER to the venue. Arriving at Chatelet Les Halles station there were a few panicked moments of trying to navigate the notoriously complex station (it’s a rare trick for a non-resident to be able to came out of the same exit twice), but nevertheless I struggled through those moments, and low and behold managed to get the correct entrance bringing the now very hungry journalists out in front of the venue.
Looking forward to a good repast I confidently entered Au Chien Qui Fume and enquired about the reservation. The maître d’ looked confused and I quickly scanned the restaurant looking for other journalists and the PRs for our host company (not wanting to bite the hand that feeds I have chosen to keep the individuals and company nameless as I like a good meal).
With no one in sight panic started to set in. Was the time wrong? Did we have the wrong day?
A quick look at the outlook invitation solved the mystery. We were at the wrong restaurant. There was another smoking dog across the city in Montparnasse. We hurriedly jumped in a taxi not wanting to be too late and braved the evening Parisian traffic.
But we shouldn’t have worried, because a couple of minutes in to the journey the experienced PR who had been to Au Chien Qui Fume as often as me called – ‘Mate, are you at the restaurant? I’ve F’d up. I’ve booked the wrong one. This is a f’ing steak hache and croque monsieur place.’
But it was too late we’d crossed the Siene and were rapidly approaching our new venue. After some thought said PR cancelled the reservation at the burger and chips place and rebooked at the swankier Au Chien Qui Fume. Although disappointed at losing a table of 10 the hostess in Montparnasse was obviously used to such confusion. Cars were summoned and we all headed back to Chatelet.
In the back of the taxi the PR confessed. Apparently despite sending invites several weeks before, he hadn’t had a chance to book a restaurant until late last week when people started clamouring for details and had decided to go with the handy fall back of a well-known venue. Booking on line he didn’t check the address but did look at the picture of a café with a red awning (of course that’s not common at all in Paris).
He’d told his driver that morning the name and address of the restaurant who had queried it. But the PR hero had shown the driver the booking, he’d called the Montparnasse restaurant confirmed the booking, and then, with a Gaelic shrug, had left the misunderstanding in place for the foolish foreigner.
We arrived back where we had started half an hour before to be greeted by the maître d’ with a knowing smile. I got my rabbit casserole, some nice red wine and a story to tell about a little adventure in gay Paris.