My boyfriend and I were visiting the Normandy region as a side-trip from Paris and made a special stop to Rouen to dine where Julia Child had her formative experience with French cuisine. For some context, the two of us are well-traveled and are very experienced diners (I'm the daughter of a chef!). However, La Couronne, sorely missed our expectations.
Service -- Of the bat, I was very impressed with the our initial service and the overall atmosphere. Our coats and umbrellas were collected immediately and the tables were set beautifully in a gorgeous and old rustic room. From this point on, it all went downhill and it was apparent that this was all a facade...The service distinctly changed when we declined to order an aperitif and choose to just have a glass of wine with our meal (we were getting back in the car to drive to Paris, afterall!). This should make no difference to our server and the service we received. While the neighboring tables were being fawned over as their multiple aperitifs and bottles of wine were presented, we still hadn't received our water. Additionally, our server was incredibly condescending and seemed to belittle us because we were the youngest customers in the dining room. For example, when he presented our amuse bouches, he described them as a "little French thank you or treat", incorrectly assuming that we wouldn't know the proper term for it or that we weren't familiar with the practice. When entrees were presented, there was the very old fashioned pomp of removing the silver cover, however prior to the waiter doing so, he attempted to tease me by saying that I was being served frog legs, expecting me to squeal. His bad joke only insulted me. Finally, I was seated directly next to a smaller table that was being used for preparing a table-side duck dish that was extremely elaborate and that took the span of 1.5 hours to prepare, during which other restaurant guests were standing up and taking photos of the preparation that I happened to be sitting right by. It was very distracting.
Food -- I really wanted to love my meal, but unfortunately, I got violently ill exactly 24 hours after this meal. Of course I have no way to directly attribute my illness to the food I ate at La Couronne, but it was the only meal in which I ate exclusively on my own without sharing with my boyfriend. I ordered off of the lunch price fixed menu and selected the egg dish for the appetizer, a beef and mushroom entree, and a clementine dessert. The amuse bouche was very strange and practically inedible -- something to do with scallops that were in a mousse form. The beef was terrible, very chewy, and served very rare. There wasn't any sear on the beef, instead the entire cut was very bloody with a strange after taste. I ate some of it, but when our waiter came by to collect our plates, he asked me why I didn't eat all of it. I'm not sure if it's considered poor manners in France to not finish every last morsel, but I didn't feel like explaining myself to the nosey waiter who proceeded to instruct me that "French beef is different, you're not used to it".
Normally, I read negative reviews like mine and assume that the customer had a bad attitude or was exaggerating, but I assure you that I was not looking for faults, it just happened that this was a truly miserable lunch that caused me to have to spend two full days being sick instead of enjoying Paris. Please save your time and money and enjoy one of France's many other wonderful restaurants.
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