Published on May 27th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard


Swish Restaurant Story.

Ever been out of your depth in a swish restaurant during your travels? It happens.

Here’s my story. It took place in France. Well-heeled friends here in Australia encouraged us to visit their favourite Michelin Star restaurant in the hotel La Pyramide in Vienne, south of Lyon, when we visited France a couple of years ago. Veinne 2 jpg

They knew we weren’t in the least well-heeled, but they reassured us the restaurant would have a fixed-priced menu, we could ‘begin dinner in the hotel’s gardens with a glass of house champagne’ before going into the grand dining room. They also told us we would find ‘a decent wine on the menu for about 70 euros’.

Seeing as 7 euros is more our style, we were a little flummoxed, but we were up for a Michelin Star experience and we’d go the 70 euros this one time and hang the expense.

So it was that we found ourselves in the beautiful manicured gardens of La Pyramide Hotel sipping a glass of pink bubbles brought to us by the sommelier, a man of supreme elegance in an impeccable grey suit, wearing white gloves, his gold sommelier’s badge gleaming on his lapel.

“Let me bring you the wine list in the garden so you can choose your wine for me to open and prepare for you when you come into the dining room,” he said as he presented us with a tray of exquisite canapés.

He came back and handed my husband a wine list the size of a business directory (really, I do not exaggerate) and then stood still and tall and graceful before us while we made our choice.

My husband opened the directory. I looked over his shoulder.

Veinne 3

The first page showed many wines at around 150 euros. He turned page. The prices jumped 200 euros, then 500, then 1500…I’m not lying.

My husband’s confusion was palpable in the rose-scented air of that fragrant garden, and made worse by the quiet sophistication of the white-gloved sommelier standing before us waiting for our decision.

Awkward long minutes went by, pages were flicked backward and forwards, more silent uncomfortable minutes followed.

I could almost hear my husband’s silent scream. What to do?

I could offer no help.

Finally, my husband looked up at this handsome sommelier with his grey suit and white glove in the lovely garden, and said: “Can I have 70 euros worth, please?”

That’s my swish restaurant story.


About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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