This is a review of the Hobart French restaurant Remi De Provence which had terrific food but disappointing customer service and complaints handling. I am disappointed with how they have responded to a problem.
Remi’s website with full location details and contact details is here.
From the website:
“Exclusively featuring the authentic cuisine of Provence, both classic and contemporary, Remi de Provence is a unique dining experience — a true French bistro.”
In summary the food and French champagne were outstanding but their attitude and honouring of promises was disappointing and gave the whole evening a sour taste – a disappointment for us as it was our wedding anniversary.
I would however highly recommend the food – it was a fantastic French dining experience.
Now for the full detail:
Jo and I went to Remi towards the end of December for our wedding anniversary dinner. We hadn’t been there before but both of us absolutely love French Champagne – you know the real thing! – and from our previous trip to France we both like French food and the Provence region where we stayed and had a great time in France.
I had read some reviews of Remi in advance to help me decide where to take us out including the review of Roger McShane. I had also viewed the website of Remi. All these sources tell you that you can buy a bottle of wine from Remi’s bottle shop and dine in the restaurant with it. There is a sliding scale of corkage depending on the value of the wine. This sounded terrific to us and to be honest that was one of the deciding factors on where to dine as we wanted French champagne with our meal.
When reading this story bear in mind that we had never dined at Remi before so we had no idea what wine was on their restaurant wine list and honestly didn’t care as we were going to choose from the bottle shop.
When we arrived at Remi we were greeted by a very friendly and knowledgable man who took us on a tour of the bottle shop – we told him that was what we wanted to do.
We asked about French champagne and he explained their range. He told us that Gosset Grand Reserve champagne was one of the best champagnes available there and even better news was that it was on sale at the moment. It was normally approximately $130 but was on sale for only $92.50 We knew the corkage was cheaper under $100 and since he so highly recommended the wine we took his advice and chose the Gosset Grand Reserve champagne.
When we were seated we had the champagne served in some very nice glasses indeed and just as advised it was one of the nicest champagnes we had tasted. It had a superbly blended flavour and was really high quality. I would highly recommend the champagne.
The menu was very good and there were several dishes that I could have easily eaten. The set menu also sounded good value but we chose to order our own selection. We chose the mixed entree platter and Jo had steak for main course and I had an outstanding slow cooked lamb rump.
Jo ordered her steak medium and made it very clear to the waiter that she meant medium, not medium rare and tending towards well done. The steak came out medium rare but she accepted it and enjoyed the meal. Our eventual account showed the waiter had written rare for the steak so obviously something went wrong there.
My lamb was just fantastic and is highly recommended. It was cooked superbly and tasted amazing. The meat just melted in your mouth. We also had their potato side dish and that was amazing with cream and garlic.
We were also given a very nice complimentary small soup at the start of the meal and it was terrific also.
In terms of desert Jo was feeling full so didn’t opt for the profiteroles – she also has a dislike for custard and thought they would include custard. I however chose the profiteroles and was really impressed. There was 4 of them and instead of custard they were filled with icecream. The chocolate sauce was fantastic and the pastry was soft and slightly chewy – just how I like it. Sometimes choux pastry is dried out from too much cooking but these profiteroles were just perfect.
Jo had the desert of the day which involved strawberries and she also thought it was fantastic.
We followed the meal with some very nice Musket and it rounded off the meal very nicely.
Now back to the champagne incident – It was during our main course that the waiter came over and said that he needed to make a huge apology in relation to the champagne. Apparently he said he had been informed that the champagne special price was only for off site consumption and not for consumption in the restaurant. He said he couldn’t honour the price we had been advised. By this time of course it was too late to send it back and in my opinion the restaurant had no choice but to honour the price and how they handled this would really test their character and customer service.
I explained to the waiter that we realised that we wouldn’t just pay the $92.50 but would pay corkage on top of that and that was fine even though he hadn’t told us about the corkage. The restaurant menu had the corkage scale on it and confirmed the practice of drinking bottle shop wine in the restaurant.
The waiter was young and very troubled by the whole situation but apparently had no authority to resolve the situation. I insisted that we wouldn’t pay the full price – he said he would speak with management and get back to us. We stressed that the most we should pay was $92.50 plus corkage.
The whole situation really marred a terrific night when the ultimate bill came out as we had been charged $138 for the bottle when corkage was only $15 so the total charge should only have been $107.50 We had to get quite pushy and insistent and stress that there was simply no way we were paying full price and explained what we would pay and how that was what was advertised.
Really Remi himself should have come out and spoken to us and resolved the matter. It was not fair of Remi to leave this situation to a junior waiter. Sure Remi had no idea that I would be writing a review but that shouldn’t matter. All customers should be treated equally. At the moment I am an unknown reviewer and I am therefore getting a true impression of the restaurants.
The real problem arose with the Gosset champagne because it was one of just 2 champagnes on the wine list. Remi obviously didn’t want to honour the sale price to compete with his wine list price. To me that is just bad luck. We checked on the way out and there was a sign in the bottle shop on the Gosset price tag to say the price was a special – however there was no fine print and there was no note excluding it from in restaurant dining. There was also no sign to exclude any wines from dining in the restaurant.
Basically Remi is putting a terrific opportunity and offer out there in terms of using bottle shop wine with a corkage but when it came to the crunch didn’t want to honour the offer. That is just plain bad business and terrible customer service.
Because we really pushed the point we were only charged the correct $107.50 but the waiters demeanour implied that he was in trouble and we didn’t receive an apology for the situation. If Remi himself was not available to talk with us then the manager for that night should have resolved the matter for us. Forcing us to discuss the matter several times was not satisfactory.
I personally believe that we should be compensated by another complimentary dinner to make up for this incident. Prior to publishing this review I did seek input from Remi and I will put our conversation at the end of this review so you can see both sides of the situation.
The next day I did email the restaurant and ask about their corkage policy. I asked if there were any exceptions or exclusions and what the charges were. I didn’t say anything about the night before though. Remi wrote back and said no exclusions or exceptions and gave me the scale of charges.
Remi needs to decide whether a very small one off loss compared to the full wine list price is worth making a customer very happy and who would spread the word.
I should reiterate that this situation was only in relation to the service and business management and not the food. The food was absolutely outstanding and I would recommend the food to anyone. It was a terrific French experience and depending on how Remi remedies the situation I would go back again.
Here is the discussion with Remi. He mistakenly believed we had been charged the higher price on the night and offered to refund the difference but has offered no compensation. I personally don’t think this is adequate but I will leave the final decision to you. It also appears from Remi’s email that he still wishes to have this exclusion on the Gosset but has not altered his advertising to include any exclusions:
On 22 December 2011 my wife and I dined at your restaurant and I am just in the process of finalising a review of your restaurant and our evening experience for our website / forum / blog (the link was included).
I stress that the review has only been drafted and not published yet. I provide a copy of my review below for your comment. As you will see the
food was wonderful but the evening was marred by your unwillingness to honour a price on champagne.
I would like to include your comments and perspective on the situation in the review in order to provide a balanced review. I am seeking your
comments in order to provide a fair and balanced perspective in case the waiter didn’t accurately convey to us your opinion on the night.
Please get back to me with your comments and I will amend the review before publishing.
Good evening Dale
Thank you for your comment, I sorry to read that the floor staff did not stick to the advertised price even if it was only for take way price.
As for not apologizing I unfortunately was not told or as they would probably say they forgot. Any way please accept my late apologies and could you please send me your CC detail so I can rectified the amount and credit you those $30 to you.
Please to read that you enjoy the evening and that you like our profiteroles.
Thank you again and hope I can welcome you again at Remi de Provence.