Chapeau!: Good food but less than stellar service

It took me a while to write this because I was debating on whether I should even write about this place, but in the end, I will write about it because it needs to be written. Chapeau! came highly recommended to us by my friends Nia and Nick, and it came highly recommended to them via another set of friends from high school, etc. To top that off, I invited my friends from college to go there to celebrate multiple occasions one night earlier this month, and some of them know more people who also recommended this place. So you see, it is a chain reaction because I know a few people who frequent this place, I want to make sure that I am really doing the right thing. And the right thing I have decided is to tell it like it was. Shesh, the way I am looking at it, this place is almost like the six degree of Kevin Bacon except that it’s not. Lol.

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I dined at Chapeau! twice this year. First, it was a dinner with G and a second dinner with my college buddies. According to the restaurant, Chapeau! is spelled with the “!” in it because it means “Wow!” in french. Without the exclamation point, it means, “hat” and the entire theme of the restaurant is built on this Chapeau and Chapeau! So it’s quite clever.

Good Food – Mostly impressive. Food was the highlight of both dining experiences.

Dinner #1 – Not bad. We had a rather romantic dinner here and really kept to ourselves. We sat at the corner and the tables were kind of tight, so even though we were keeping to ourselves, we really are breaking bread with our neighbors. For example, I found out that the woman who was sitting slightly across from me is a lawyer at a non-profit and her husband and her like to watch basketball on the weekends and they also recently drove to a vineyard somewhere in Paso Robles, etc.  And other details and I wasn’t even trying to eavesdrop. God knows what she and her hubby heard us talk about. Don’t even want to know. Lol. Overall – No complaints for this first dinner.

Here are some pictures of our food from our first dinner.

Complimentary - Cauliflower purée with a drizzle of truffle oil

Chestnut soup

Tasting Fish - Flounder

Traditional Escargots de Bourgogne in Butter, Parsley & Garlic

Cassoulet de Toulouse: Canellini Beans, Shredded Braised Lamb Shoulder, Duck Leg Confit, Garlic & Toulouse Sausage

Wild Caught Skate Wing in a Brown Butter, Fingerling Potato, Sauce Grenobloise, Mache

French Toast, Soft Caramel, Hazelnut Ice Cream

Dinner #2 - I may be overly sensitive here, but I thought the service on the second dinner was less than stellar. Our waiter on this second dinner was nice enough. One of our friends brought a really nice bubbly and the waiter got it all iced in a bucket. So it was really great and the mood very celebratory (we were celebrating everyone’s accomplishments over the course of last year and doing a belated holiday celebration!) Thanks Ms. E for the bubbly! :)

The Rude Surprise: Then during our first course of dinner, out of nowhere, this woman (not our waiter) who doesn’t dress like she even work there (*more on this later*), schlep some complimentary soup over to us — surprised me when she happened on us while we were talking excitedly about my friend’s recent trip to Thailand, China, and Russia and she rudely interrupted by saying, “EXCUSE ME!” in a very rude and reprimanding tone.

What was I doing at that point? I was admiring the really cute (and really pink) pillow case that my friend Ms. C (Merci beaucoup!) brought me. Anyway, not expecting that at all, I didn’t say anything. Since she stood on my side, I have a feeling, she was addressing me. In retrospect, I should have said, “And you are excuse!” Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Why do I always think of smart retorts like that when I am not there anymore? Anyhoo- sure I may be doing something improper (Is admiring friend’s gifts at a celebratory dinner improper?), but I don’t think anyone should be so rude. A nice tone would be appreciated. To digress a bit (or digressing a lot), after that dinner, I went on a local review site to see what others said about this restaurant and lo and behold — along with reviews for good food, I also found a few other people commenting on this particular woman’s rude behavior. I wonder what got on her nerve since we (or I) didn’t do anything to provoke her at all and are actually patronizing the restaurant and spending money there. So I think the rudeness is uncalled for.

When I mentioned this to G just now to let him know that I am writing this *little* snippet in, he was like, “oh, you mean THAT woman?”

Surprised, I said, “Why? How did you know? Did you noticed something I didn’t see the first time we were there?”

“Yeah, the woman didn’t fit in because she was wearing these really casual clothes – plaid shirt and jeans – none of the staff was wearing that and honestly, I thought she was a customer. Oh, by the way, what word do you use when a woman’s shirt doesn’t quite close all the way and is looking — well, not cute at all,  but like the buttons are about to pop off?”

To be honest, by this time, I was very amused and I said, “Hm, I think I would say – ill-fitting?”

“Yes, that’s it. Ill-fitted. Precisely.”

Precisely.

The Chef was nice though. Upon sitting, he greeted everyone with handshakes and upon leaving, he double kisses you on the cheek. (We didn’t get the double kiss on our first dinner but that’s okay.) Something we don’t expect from most restaurants, but it was nice.

However, the rudeness did get to me. So much so that I am writing about it now. (My apologies to my dear readers!) I didn’t think much about it then, but that incident did mar the other more magical aspects of the evening for me because I am talking more about this rude woman than my friends now!

And really, the evening was supposed to be SOLELY about my friends and maybe the food. Definitely something I will keep in mind when people ask me to recommend restaurants for special occasions because special events are supposed to be special and I certainly don’t want to recommend a place that subjects them to rude behaviors. Even if I do recommend this place because of the food (and it was good!), I would do so with something of a  “Carpe Diem” warning them about that rude woman, like I am doing now. Had that happened on the first dinner, you can be sure I would not have suggested it for the second dinner.

Despite that, my college buddies, Ms. E, Ms. C, and Mr. M and I had an awesome time catching-up. It was so nice to see them. :)  One last shout out. Mr. M, thanks for the chic scarf! Wearing it all the time. You rock and I thank you! :)

Here are some pictures from our second dinner. I didn’t take pictures again of food that I have already had at my first dinner to avoid duplicates. :)

Waiter cutting the Prime Rib for 2

Prime Rib with the bone marrow

Cheese Potato Gratin

Scallops

Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake

Baked Alaska

Chapeau! | 126 Clement Street | San Francisco, CA
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14 responses to “Chapeau!: Good food but less than stellar service

    • Thanks for commenting Nors. Yes, the food does look good and tasted delicious. I do have a “bone” to pick with their service though. Pun intended. LOL.

  1. Great write up and completely agree with you about the intrusion. It might be hard for some restaurants to know when a table is focused on conversation and do not want or need intrusion from the staff. I’m amazed how many times a staff member will interrupt mid-sentence to tell you about a special or ask how everything is doing. Maybe borrow from the hotel industry and add a Do Not Disturb sign to the table when we don’t want to be bothered? While on the topic of signs…I’m also advocating a Check Please sign for those frequent times the staff disappear for long stretches of time and all the customer wants to do is pay and leave. :P

    • Hi Mr. M. So nice of you to drop in! :) Yes, totally agreed on those signs or some type of signal system for the average dining establishment. Speaking for myself, I have been to smaller and less “fancy” places where they are great at knowing when you want something and when not to interrupt. I think it’s more about paying attention to your customers, too. This is turning out to be quite an OB experience…Lol

  2. It’s too bad about the service, but glad you have a good food and good time with friends.
    The rib looks delicious, and the chocolate cake too. and the scallop, the flounder… :D

  3. Okay let me tackle my comment with ease and probably a bit of funny lol. I think the food looks amazing. Loved the braised lamb and everything else you took photos of. Scrumptious. BUT, when you mentioned that woman’s behavior, something just made me not even want to consider visiting that place. If I was with you at that dinner table, I think I would’ve been the one to say “You can be excused..” and some other words lol. It’s just the NYC in me.. I’m sorry lol. But then again I’m not sorry.. if she works there then someone needs to get her attitude in check QUICK. You never know, she may meet the wrong person or possibly meet the right person (such as a food critic) and it goes bad for the whole restaurant

    • Lol, thanks Kay! :) Yup, that would be funny if you did say that to her. I should have said something but just not quick enough to think of something witty or snappy to say. I have a feeling that she’s not just any server though…perhaps why she gets to dress how she likes and acts how she wants, but it’s sad you know. I would think that even if the person owns the place , the person would actually be nicer because you want more people to like your place and come back, but who knows. And frankly, I am turned off by that kind of behavior and there are lots of good French restaurants around here that will like more business.

      You know what else? I have another post of a different restaurant that I will be posting (probably next week) that’s almost like this except it’s even more bizzare. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read and commenting on my postings! You are the best! :)

      • You know I love your blogging spot ;). But you’re right, even if she was the owner, she shouldn’t treat anyone that way. AT ALL. I’m already turned off by the place and I don’t even live there. You won’t catch me going there unless I wanted to go off on somebody purposely and I’m not that horrible of a person lol. And girl, if you lived here, in NYC, the not coming up with witty or quick comments would fly right out the window LOL. You would learn quick how to react here lol. But I must admit, the feisty side of me, would’ve been my grandmother emerging from my body LOL. She never liked rude people.

  4. Being a person with a sweet tooth, I’m thinking the desserts look especially delicious! Sorry you had an unfortunate encounter with a rude person.

  5. Perhaps a word to the owner about ‘that’ woman would be good? They’d hate to know that she was ruining guests meals (and the food does indeed look delicious) ;-)

    • Thanks for your suggestions AC. Yes, it was a shame as the food was delicious. We will do that in the future if we encounter this again…although I hope not.

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