The dish: cold.
The service: rude.
The place: the Cafe des Connards on the famed rue des Merdes in Paris, which claims to be the restaurant with the rudest waiters on earth. Le garcon has just told me to go shit myself a new head.
Tourists are flocking to the Cafe des Connards after it made the startling claim on Tripadvisor to having the most impolite, impatient and downright insolent waiters in the whole world.
“It is just part of our culture”, said Maitre D’ Phillipe Ouainqueue.
You come to a restaurant in Paris and you do not expect snivelling politeness. You expect to be insulted. However, we do it with panache. It is just part of the Parisian culture to visit a restaurant and be made to feel humiliated and small. We just do it better than anyone in the world.
The cafe has made itself famous for banning American tourists on the pretext that they’re too fat for the chairs and that they “know nothing about food”, informing British tourists that they can only have “custard and jelly” as that’s all they understand, and greeting their fellow French visitors with a knee to the groin.
French restaurant critic Julien Mesfesses, however, has started to develop an affection for the place: “When I first went there, I received the customary knee to the groin, and the waiter kept flicking my ear. When I asked for another five minutes to think about my choice of main course, the waiter called me a chieur, a shitter, basically, and that I could have thirty minutes. He came back an hour later and told me that everything was “off”. All I could have was the raw steak.
Over time though, I have come to appreciate these customs. The knee to the groin seems more friendly and I see it as a Parisien establishment, far from the hister coffee bars and the new-fangled “friendliness” of the Anglo-Saxon restaurants.
It is not unusual, when dining at the Cafe des Connards, to be drawn into the spectacle. With fifty covers a night, there is ample opportunity for the waiters to display the full gamut of Parisien rudeness.
Head waiter Nicolas Tammere explains the attraction behind working for the Cafe Connard:
This is not just a 9 to 5 job or any job in any cafe. This is an opportunity to maintain those French values we cherish so much and that we are at risk of losing thanks to your MacDonalds and your Burger Kings. We do rudeness and people come from all around to experience it first hand. I love my job, and I hate my customers. It’s like that.”
When I visited the Cafe des Connards last week, I was ignored for at least forty minutes while the waiters stood around tutting at each other. Eventually, when I was given a menu, it took a further thirty minutes for a waiter to take my order, at which point I was informed that I “would not like” anything from the menu.
I started with the escargots, which were thrown on my table with disdain. They were perfect, although I nearly dropped one when I overheard the chef screaming “I hope the English bastard chokes on it.”
My main course of Steak frites was served just as the chef likes it, and when I asked for my bill to be given with my pudding of Ile Flottante, I was told to stick my Ile Flottante where the sun doesn’t shine and ignored until the waiters were clearing up and ready to go home.
All in all, it was the perfect French experience and I hope next time to be welcomed with the knee in the groin, a sign that you are a true regular visitor to the Cafe des Connards.