I was at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London just 6 days earlier, but what a contrast. I booked, a month ago, a fixed-menu 3-course meal for 6:30pm from the UK as well as the purchase of tickets for the 8:00pm concert to follow.
In the meanwhile I got an email to advise that a new chef was in operation (taking the catering over, I imagine), one from a prestigious hotel in the city. On arrival the 3-course had given way to a mandatory 5-course taster menu with this package, although there was no extra charge. It was SO slow! Although other guests arriving later were served all of their courses before the performance, we were not and the manageress apologised that there would not be time for the dessert to be served (it is now just before 7:45pm) as there is a strict rule of "no knives and forks during the concert". It seemed there was a possibility of serving dessert, which happened to be their pièce-de résistance, after the end of the show. This would not be of help to us as we had a plane to catch. The alternative offered was of cakes in the interval. Desserts could not be served during this 30-minute recess either.
An additional irritation is that because not all tables had been reserved we were invited to sit alongside each other, backs to the wall, as this might be better during the concert. We did, but others came in for the concert and not to eat and sat themselves down at out table. Each time they were courteously and spontaneously asked (I think) to move elsewhere but this did not happen at all immediately and detracted from any enjoyment of the meal. The staff should have seen this action through to completion, and promptly. Let's clear, I am not talking about during the concert itself (another couple came and joined us and it added to the ambience of the occasion - this happens in jazz clubs and who would want otherwise?), but while we were eating and had food and drink spread across the entirely of the four-place table. Who would be happy with that?
Things got worse. The sound level of the acoustic trio (double bass, sax and drums) was amplified to (for us) an wholly unacceptable level for a jazz concert. Unlike at Scott's in London where guests were asked to keep any conversations to an absolute minimum, there was no need to give that warning here. There was no risk of making yourself heard. Ear damaging stuff. Another acoustic band could have been playing alongside and you might not have noticed except in the quieter passages!
We couldn't cope with a second set and left at half time, taking their cakes to eat back at the hotel room with take-away coffees (delicious they were, by the way) and renegotiating the price paid for the meal. I hate that! I hate giving low scores on Trip Advisor as well, but sometimes you have to. Let me be clear that the staff were very friendly and disarming and the wines and other drinks offered were excellent.
Why has this happened at Jazzhus Montmartre? It has become self-indulgent This is true of the meals offered, which were so bizarre in their constituent parts and their presentation as to invite many not to appreciate them, and so slow to get out that customers do not get served! It is also true of the music offered. In all that we heard there seemed little concern for the enjoyment of the audience, rather for the enjoyment of the musicians themselves and their getting feedback (applause) during the performance.
Oh dear. Sorry. I hope this was an exceptionally poor day, but the portents are not good.
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