I recently visited Greenwich, CT on a sunny winter afternoon. We go there quite often, not because Daniela’s Gelateria (no website, sorry) serves the best chocolate around - pretty much the best I’ve tasted outside of Italy - but also because the main avenue is very pleasant to walk down.
We fancied a nice pastry or similar type of treat for our now-customary afternoon goûter. We had brunch in a pleasant enough cafe a few weekends beforehand and remembered that they made their own pâtisserie. So we stopped by the place - it’s called Versailles if you care to know (www.versaillesgreenwich.com) - to see what was on offer.
They had a number of tarts plus some classic French pastries, many of which pretty much looked the part. We asked the snappy guy behind the counter a few questions and, after a bit of vacillation, my wife ordered a Paris-Brest while I went for a thin little apple tart.
This is where things began to go a bit pear-shaped, to use the British term.
The guy asked if we wanted to eat them in the cafe, but we said ‘no’ as we wanted to walk down the street with them, as is our wont. He then asked if we wanted a plate or something to eat them on, and again we said ‘no’, indicating that a paper bag or something along those lines would be fine. He took both of them out of the cooler and handed my wife’s selection to her on a thin piece of paper, and placed mine down on the counter in front of me on the little paper base that the tart was resting on already.
He then went to the cash register and said that our total would be $14. Thinking there must clearly have been a mistake, I said “Sorry, how much?” He repeated the figure and told us that we were actually very lucky as that is cheaper than the price would would pay if we were eating in. We both stood there in complete shock. I looked down at my fairly sad-looking apple tart and asked him how much each of these pastries cost. Somehow, my wee apple tart was $8 and my wife’s pastry was $6.
After a long silence and awkward glances, I said that I was not going to have my apple tart. But he said that they couldn’t take it back because I had already touched it. This was in fact not true as I was only cupping it from underneath and touching merely the paper in which it was sitting. My wife had made the unfortunate decision of tasting her Paris-Brest already, which was not even close to being the real article, especially as the pâte à choux inside was extremely hard. She asked whether it was fresh, and the now rather surly server said straight away: “Yes, they are baked at 7.30am each morning.” [It was now 4.30pm or so].
I explained to him that I hadn’t touched my apple tart at all, but he said that I had. I said that they should put prices in the display (as there are no prices anywhere). I said that I’ve never heard of a small apple tart (believe me, it was very small) costing anywhere near that much in the immediate vicinity (by comparison, at our normal place, which is much better in terms of quality anyway, two pastries and a tea costs less than half of what this did). None of it mattered, though, they were going to force us to pay.
Stupidly and complacently enough - probably due to the shock - I did end up paying and huffed and puffed as we exited, surely never to return to the establishment again.
The guy had insisted it was management policy, and that while he couldn’t say he agreed or disagreed with it, he assured us that this is what they would make him do should a member of management have been there to deal with our clearly evident displeasure with the situation.
In hindsight, of course we should have just walked out and left my pastry on the counter plus (maybe) $6 for my wife’s already part-eaten letdown of a pastry.
It would be one thing if the specimens in question were from a well-known institution such as Ladurée or Pierre Heremé: a certain level of quality would have been assured and the brand has the luxury to charge more luxurious prices. But this place obviously neither has their quality nor the weight of their brand.
Had the pâtisseries been exceptional - or even really good - we probably wouldn’t have felt so cheated, but the Paris-Brest was very mediocre at best and my apple tart was ‘good’ at best.
They were very unreasonable, pretty confrontational and we found the whole thing to be downright rude and manipulative.
I am in flummoxed as to what to do over the situation. Does anyone have any suggestions?