It all started with what should have been a great lunch. My brother proposed to spend the day in Annecy and have lunch at the brasserie of the Imperial Palace, a stunning "belle époque" hotel with fantastic lake views.
Unfortunately, the service at the restaurant was deplorable, a level that was so surprising for such luxurious place. We sensed something was wrong quite quickly as they did not ask us if we wanted an apéritif (a drink before the meal, fairly common in France) as they handed out the menu and then when we had to ask somebody to take our order, task that they executed without a smile, as if we were bothering them. The food took quite some time to come, but it was worth it. I shared some dishes with my brother. The first appetizer was the house made smoked salmon that was delicious, the salmon being thickly cut and having a nice smokiness.
The second dish was the pâté en croûte au foie gras (pâté with foie gras) and an onion jam made with xérès wine (delightfully sweet). This was very good, a nice fusion of two classic French specialties.
At that point, we had to ask for some bread as they forgot to bring some, a sacrilege in France where bread is always present in a meal. After these delicious appetizers, we waited approximately 40 minutes for our entrées, asking twice where they were to a staff who was not apologetic at all. The whole meal was so slow that my brother had to go and skipped his entrée and went straight to the dessert buffet (no wait at least). Finally, the food came. Imagine that Jodi did not have any appetizers and so waited close to 1h30 for her dish! She got a salade de chèvre chaud (goat cheese salad) that was just ok considering the great similar salads we had in other places.
On my side, I had the Féra de lac, a white fish from the lake that was delicious, cooked in a hazelnut butter. It was served with some potatoes that were quite good.
Last was dessert. For 10 euros, you can have the dessert buffet that was a good deal, proposing not only pastries, but also candies. I only went for the former, with all desserts made in house. There was: finger, baba au rhum (my favorite), lemon tart and a Paris-Brest (chou with hazelnut cream). Jodi went for a Tropezienne with passion fruit, chocolate mousse and lemon tart. All the desserts were good and a nice way to end the meal.
Of course, we could not end the meal without coffee but did not expect our espresso to take 20 Minutes to come...
Last details that were quite surprising in this kind of establishment were the lack of cleanliness of the staff uniforms, and the fact that many tables were not cleaned for a long time (30 minutes for the one next to us), the staff passing next to them, empty handed.
It is too bad that the service at the Imperial Palace was so poor. It is a beautiful place with stunning views and great food, but a perfect example of how poor service can ruin a great experience. French people are known to like to spend a lot of time at the table, but only when it is not imposed by poor service or a slow kitchen, enjoying a good meal in good company. Hopefully it was a one time issue and the management will do the needful to address them. However, I should mention that when we paid, they finally apologized and compt my brother's meal. But still, we left disappointed...
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Brasserie of the Imperial Palace - Allée de l'Impérial, 74000 Annecy, France