entries filed under 'dining out' tag:
posted by Odin on May 14, 2009
'DSC_0507' by g.h.vandoorn, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
So I haven't blogged in a couple weeks, mainly because I've been recovering from a wild weekend in Amsterdam.
Last week, after more than a year spent in Paris, I finally obtained my "carte de séjour", the official government document that allows me to live and work in France. The process was painstakingly long, convoluted and filled with mishaps. My experience testifies to all the jokes and stereotypes regarding France's heavy and inefficient bureaucratic system.
After the dust has settled, I am now able to compare my French experience with that of the two other countries I immigrated to or lived in temporarily: Canada and the United States.
To sum up, there is NOTHING like the North American "service" and "efficiency" mentality! In France, whether it's in dealing with government agencies, customer service reps, restaurant waiters, I have been serviced by slow, inefficient, error-prone, rude and unhelpful people, for the most part. I really miss being greeted nicely on the phone, or having a friendly and talkative waiter come to my table for a chat or just to find out how my meal is going.
Granted, there is a flipside to this argument: employees in France (especially in the public sector) pretty much have their job for life and it's near impossible for them to get fired. On the other hand, labor contracts in North America are much more flexible, so one might say that those "friendly" and "efficient" Americans and Canadians are only so because otherwise they would lose their job.
Regardless of their motives, I would still rather receive prompt and courteous service. With all the unemployment in France, these people should be glad and thankful they have any work at all! Not to mention the long list of social benefits to which they are entitled!
Personally, I'm just glad I don't have to deal with the French government anymore, for a while at least!
posted by Odin on Apr 19, 2009
'bens' by viewfromthemoon, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License
By now every real Montrealer knows that the Bens deli has been closed for a while. This restaurant, established in 1908, has been a true landmark for Montreal for nearly a century. After a long standing employee strike, the owners sadly decided to close the institution for good.
The Ville-Marie borough recently issued a construction permit to a developer to demolish the building and erect a sixteen-storey hotel in its place. This took place despite calls from heritage groups to preserve the structure.
Personally, I have only been to Bens once, around fifteen years ago. I am not a big fan of its type of food and/or ambience, but, in my opinion, its 1940s art-deco style is a relic of a lost era. Asides from Beautys in the Plateau, I cannot think of any other remaining diner that captures this period and keeps it alive in our collective minds.
Bens has been frequented by celebrities from all over North-America. Their autographed pictures used to adorn its walls in an attestation for its fame and once-found glory. It is sad to think that the hotel that will replace it will not bear a single resemblance to its predecessor (maybe it could have carried its name? Or it could have been built in a neo-art-deco style?).
For those interested, the McCord museum will be exhibiting the photos of celebrities along with other collected memorabilia.
What Montreal has truly lost is not just a restaurant, but a representative and reminder of a bygone era.
about the blog
MTLRants© is Seek Odin's brand new blog, bringing you entries from our staff and other contributors. The blog will cover topics and issues related to SeekOdin's central themes. Mostly, it will deal with the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with service-related businesses in Montreal.
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