Last night we went to Le Train Bleu, an ostentatious Belle Époque restaurant located within the Gare de Lyon – and get this – we weren’t even getting a train anywhere. It’s a curious place to find an eatery so ornate to the eye and expensive to the wallet (this blog was brought to you by Claire’s parents, and we’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsors). It was built in 1900 to presumably cater for l’Exposition Universelle and beyond that the new Parisian obsession for heading south. Called le Buffet de la Gare de Lyon originally, here vacationers could wolf down one last epic meal before traversing into the unknown, where they might not have food stuff and ting. Chartier, another beautiful fin-de-siècle building offering French fare that I’ve already written about in this blog, is a fraction of the price, but the opulence of Le Train Bleu has to be seen to be believed, if just the once. Come in with a camera and run away again if you like. That’s perfectly legal, if a bit weird.
As for the food, well it was good food, but as a vegetarian I sometimes wonder if there’s something I’m missing out on where posh restaurants are concerned. To me it seems you pay for the ceremony. Someone will sit you down and then take your plate away before anything has been eaten from that plate and then bring you another, along with a load of forks you don’t need. Then they’ll take away a glass you don’t need either, to show they’re earning their money. I got to play my own little game with the maître d’ when he brought a trolley full of cheeses over and challenged me to choose my own. Luckily I had my best pointy finger with me. This I’m sure is as close as I’ll ever get to fingering a lobster and then having the poor little bastard fished out of a tank and boiled for my delectation.
The meal was only slightly hampered by the fact god has struck me deaf out of retribution for my hypocrisy. I had to sit there and nod and smile through a lot of conversation that I didn’t hear, but it was okay because I had 15 different types of cheese on my plate. I woke up the other day and couldn’t hear out of my left ear which was ironic, as had I been deaf over the weekend then it might have been a blessing.
Is it hypocritical to hate the thing you once were so much that you want to destroy it? Dramatic maybe, but I’ve got your attention in a Dan Brown kind of a way now. The situation with the neighbours escalated on Saturday and Sunday when they decided to have an 18 hour party that spilled out all over the building, and it might have turned into 24 hours and beyond had I not intervened. I liked to party all weekend when I was a snivelling child like them – and certainly a lot older still – and so I gritted my teeth and held back for as long as I could, until something snapped. Suddenly I was hammering at their door and shouting at them in English. The element of surprise clearly worked in my favour as I haven’t heard much noise coming from their apartment since, which was quite grown up of them actually, as I would have told me to ‘fuck off’ where I them. Their compliance was even more embarrassing as I’d already grassed them up to their landlord via a text, and he called Claire to see what all the fuss was about once I’d returned. With that and the recent internet incident, I suspect we’re off their Christmas card list, though they did leave a grovelling apology sellotaped to the door downstairs for everyone in the building to see. Apparently it was one of the girl’s 25th birthdays.
Things have got weird at chez nous recently. The posh Proms announcer who has a flat downstairs and comes here when things at Radio 3 get really tough, had problems with his waterworks again. I’m not talking euphemistically. For some reason whenever he comes back to this flat, there’s a problem with his plomberie, and he comes knocking on our door asking what’s what because we’re the only other rosbifs in the bâtiment. He’s quite calm about it considering the fact that something always goes wrong when he’s back in Paris. One Christmas he was flooded, and just when he got the place straight again and redecorated, he got flooded again. Embarrassingly the problem seemed to be coming from our flat, not that we knew anything about it, and he was far too nice about the whole thing. And this time his water wasn’t working at all.
He’s like some forlorn Biblical character who has also been afflicted by the Almighty like my ear has. Jesus never had trouble with his water – he was flash where H20 was concerned. He could do all sorts of tricks with it, splash it about, walk on it, turn it into wine. The posh guy downstairs went to stay at a friends in the end. The next time we inadvertently flood his flat we’ll maybe take him to Le Train Bleu to say sorry. No riff raff there, he’d be in his element. After another ordeal of Biblical proportions, what could be better than be taken for some posh nosh by a mal-entende and have someone in bib and tucker stand over you while you select your own fromage.Follow @jeres