Jade insisted that we try the last of the fast food restaurants that have sprung up on the outskirts of town. Ristorante Del Arte has an Italian theme and serves fast food with Italian names and pizza.
On entering the restaurant, we must have been greeted and welcomed by every employee in the place. A little hint of Cheesecake Factory there. Our waiter immediately took our drink order and supplied us with an interesting hors d’oeuvre of olives and fava beans. Jade had an Orangina, Sophie had pineapple juice and I had a nice full glass of Prosecco.
This restaurant, like many of it’s type, specializes in large portions so we wisely decided to split an appetizer of mozzarella and tomatoes. This came almost immediately and was good. Then, tuckered out by the foreign, imported, excessive client greeting and toadying culture, our waiter went off to take a well deserved break, for quite a significant amount of time. Thank God for the full glass of Prosecco and lively conversation!
The strangest thing: With no exaggeration, every 5-10 minutes, one of the Del Arte wait staff dropped and broke something, and not just a little glass. During our entire visit, our conversation was punctuated by huge crashes of crockery, every 5-10 minutes. What was that about? Maybe that’s why it took a while to get served the rest of our meal; they kept dropping the tray? Really weird. They must have a warehouse full of replacement crockery!
Unfortunately, when Jade’s pasta dish arrived, it looked as if it had been cooked yesterday and reheated several times, whether it needed it or not. Dry and gummy. That’s what she gets for insisting. My pasta dish, while fresher looking, was extremely dry, gummy and not quite Italian. Not really “bleah” but not really good either.
Sophie, the smart one, had the overcooked “veal” with, if not fresh, then good quality frozen vegetables. Unlike the Pataterie http://cookinginsens.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/la-pataterie/, this was not ugly food, it was just food for the extremely hungry, which we weren’t. Sophie says that these restaurants cater to a local employee lunch crowd, in fact, M. Parret said the same thing. I just don’t understand how this small town, with an ageing population and almost no employment opportunities can support 3 fast food sit-down restaurants, two McDonald’s and various owner run, small restaurants.
Anyway. Our waiter, smiling after his reviving vacation in, I’ll assume Paris, returned to remove our plates and take our dessert orders.
Tiramisu for Sophie
Red fruit, ice cream coupe for Jade
And, you guessed it, cafe gourmand for me. Now while I could snipe away at the authenticity of the desserts, I won’t. The desserts seemed to make up for other disappointments and allowed us to end our meal on a high note. Totally refreshed, the waiter hovered again with a broad smile, solicitously inquiring about our dining experience. “Super, super”, we replied and leaving an adequate tip on the table, we moved towards the door, returning the chorus of good-byes from the staff.
Decades ago, M. Blanchet from Les Cayes, Haiti advised, “Never go to an unfamiliar restaurant or home hungry. Always eat a little something before going there. Food is just one of the reasons for dining out, the others are the company and the ambiance. Never allow bad food to ruin your enjoyment of the other reasons.” Thank you, M. Blanchet.
Jade: 6 - The dessert
Rosemary: 5 – Full wine glass
Sophie: 8 – Good vegetables and tiramisu