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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday Cocktail Adventures Part I: Hotel du Nord

Hotel du Nord
102, Quai de Jemmapes
75010 Paris
Tel : 01 40 40 78 78

I hate writing negative reviews. But, I hate arsey bartenders even more.

Hotel du Nord seemed to have potential. Renovated not long ago and located on the Canal St Martin, it's a pleasant little locale that has managed to squeeze a few tables out front to create a small sidewalk terrace. Inside you'll find a large restaurant area and a nice looking bar with a few tables for drinks. We arrived around 7 and the server who took our drink orders was friendly, pleasant and chatty. No complaints so far. Their cocktail menu offers up a selection of about 15 to 20 cocktails at around 8 or 9 Euros. Seeing the dirty martini listed, I asked the server if I could have a traditional martini with just the gin and vermouth. "Of course!" he says.

At around 10 minutes to 8:00 our drinks arrived. (yes, that means we were sitting at the table for almost an hour before the drinks came). Visually, my cloudy, ice filled cocktail in a snifter did not appear to be a dry martini. One taste confirmed my eyeballs' suspicion. Wondering what I had been served, I went up to the bar and asked what was in my martini. The bartender told me it was a litchitini, with vodka and litchi syrup. I explained I had asked for a regular martini. At this point, he began scolding me for not ordering off the menu! I was a bit surprised. I (pretty nicely) explained, that I had asked the server for something particular, he said "of course", 50 minutes later I got something else, so it didn't seem to be entirely out of the realm of possibilities that I might ask what I got in lieu of my actual order. Over his grumbling, winging, whining and complaining, I said I didn't realize it was a strictly "order off the menu" bar. I told him not to worry about changing, that this was fine and I'd drink what I'd been given. He then started yelling at the server across the bar, for the handful of clients to hear, that he should take better orders.

As I returned to my table with my super sweet litchitini in hand, he started calling after me loudly that if I wanted a different drink I had to stop drinking the one I was holding. I told him (again) not to bother. The manager (or owner?) had seen this and came over and said my litchi martini would be 4 euros instead of 8. He then asked us to pay up immediately because they needed this table for the restaurant. We finished our round of cocktails, which were all fine but not outstanding. The bartender seems to have a grasp on how to make the drinks on their list, but overall favors form over function. His drinks are visually impressive enough - not outstanding, but just enough - so that less demanding cocktail drinkers might be convinced they are getting better drinks than they really are.

Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he was tired. Maybe his girlfriend just dumped him. (and if not, maybe she should) But, as much as I wanted to like the Hotel du Nord, the bartender left a bad taste in my mouth - figuratively & literally.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Life On Planet Patricia said...

I almost hate to say "Part II has to be better than Part I" since that almost always results in even more disastrous results.

April 16, 2009 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous columbine said...

vodka in cocktails make me stomach sick and it has happened that i get given vodka by mistake...
recently i was at the China Club, rue de Charenton, it had closed a couple of years ago and then reopened again recently, virtually unchanged. the cocktails were average but the place is really pretty, even if in the same style the Tsé is even prettier. what i did not like, it was my first happy hour in France and as i realised, it does not mean same thing as in England. at least as i know it there, drinks are half price but apparently in France it's two (same) drinks for the price of one. as much as i love cocktails, i don't approve of "forcing" people to drink more than they want originially. in fact, having not yet eaten, i did not want to take too much alcohol (happy hour was between 6 and 8 pm). i told politely the waitress what i thought and she lashed out at me lecturing me about the meaning of "happy hour": happy space hour she said as it was self explanatory. as i know it, originally happy hour was meant to bring people to bars at hours when they don't show up en masse, not to make them over drink. i don't really see why she had to be so aggressive about it since i told her i liked the place and would come back...

April 17, 2009 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

Hi Patricia...slightly more positive follow up coming...just been too busy to get to Part II!

Columbine: I am absolutely with you on the 2/1 happy hours. This is fine if you are with someone and you both want to order the same drink, but I prefer having a choice of lower prices drinks at happy hour. It's like when you go to bars in resort towns in Mexico and you order the happy hour beer and somehow 4 beers appear on your table...don't know if anyone else has had that experience, but it's happened to me a number of times there. Also, I had heard the China Club had reopened - but wasn't sure, so will check that out.

April 22, 2009 at 4:31 AM  
Anonymous columbine said...

at the China Club it did not even seem a possibility to get both drinks at the same time, at least we were not offered that choice. i did not know this about Mexico but i am not so familiar with resorts there.
the Hôtel du Nord seems pretty, i only know it from the movies and in my childhood the place was pretty run down. did the food seem any good?

April 22, 2009 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Forest said...

hard to say about the food - they hadn't started serving any by the time we left (8pm) which is why i found it a bit weird they suddenly wanted us to give up the extra table - there weren't really any customers yet. but, some of the people with me said they heard the food was good. so, don't know....

April 22, 2009 at 8:21 AM  

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