I enjoy cooking and eating at home, so eating out at fancy restaurants isn’t my thing, but in August of 2004, a friend and I decided to do it just once. I remember the date, because I keep a journal.
We heard Maisonette, located at 114 E. 6th Street in Downtown Cincinnati, was hurting for business. This was surprising. Maisonette was North America’s most highly rated restaurant. In fact, it had the longest running streak of five-star awards–awards presented by the Mobil Travel Guide. We’re talking forty-one years of five stars. Their French cuisine was considered excellent.
The deal was my friend would pay for her meal and I would pay for mine. I remember exactly what I ordered because of that journal I keep.
I decided to have an appetizer and it would be snails in garlic parsley butter. They weren’t bad but I haven’t had any since. Same goes for the French onion soup.
My main course was grilled filet mignon and it looked beautiful on my plate and it tasted great. Was it better than any other filet mignon I’ve ever had at any other restaurant? No, not really, but I still enjoyed it.
What I didn’t enjoy was the atmosphere. It was stuffy and attentive–too attentive. I felt like I was being watched and I was being watched. Our table, with just the two of us, had two waiters. Whenever I would take a drink of water, one of those waiters came over to refill the glass. He must have refilled it ten times.
My friend and I also had two cocktails with our meal and after it, a cup of coffee. When my bill was presented to me, I was shocked. The drinks, the snails, the soup, the filet mignon and the coffee came to over $100, and I still needed to add the tip.
I’d never paid that much for a meal and haven’t since. Was it worth it? I can say I’ve had the experience of eating at a five-star restaurant, but I think I’d rather have my hundred bucks back.
Maisonette closed its doors on July 25, 2005. There are various opinions as to why it lost its luster. I’ve got one based on only dining there once.
People are more relaxed now and being stuffy is very 20th century. Also constantly being watched by the waiters was a turnoff and so was that excessive dining tab. In today’s expensive world, people have other things to do with their money.