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“Left with a bad taste in the mouth (not due to the wine)”

The French Paradox Wine Shop & Wine Bar
Ranked #430 of 2,702 Restaurants in Dublin
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$12 - US$59
Cuisines: Wine Bar
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: After-hours, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: Ballsbridge's The French Paradox is the stuff of food legend. Imagine this, you have popped in to buy a bottle of wine from the range of more than 150. Hang on a minute, they offer freshly baked bread too... And cigars, cheeses, oils. It is enough to make your stomach gurgle with longing. And how on earth are you going to choose from those bottles, each one glinting at you cheekily? I suppose you could head for the tasting room and just try a little sip of wine and, seeing as your there, a dish or two from the amazing menu of French tapas-style dishes. A little charcuterie, a few cheeses, perhaps a larger salad or omelette now your stomach is in the mood. Now, what was it you came out for again?
Reviewed 18 August 2017

We appeared to be having a superb evening at the wine class in the French Paradox until the bill arrived, which left a sour taste in our mouths (no sour wines were served).

We had booked a private wine class for 6 people a few days previous and were quoted €35 a head as is also quoted on the website and which includes a small tasting plate of bread, cheese and ham (In fact we confirmed this price 3 times in separate phone calls). We had a great time tasting wines with our french wine instructor (not sure if we got his name or if it slipped the memory after the 4th wine). Anyhow, we proceeded to order a number of other tasting dishes to share and ordered another bottle of wine, all the while chatting away to our friendly and informative wine instructor.

At the point the food was finished and the wine bottles empty we asked for the bill only to find an extra €50 plopped on for the 'wine tasting fee' (on top of the €35 per head, plus extra food, plus 12% service charge for parties of 6 or more). Slightly confused, we enquired about this extra charge and were informed that this was the rental fee for the room (we were in the bar area where there were other diners not taking the wine class). Now we were never told about this extra fee and it is mentioned nowhere on the website (They tried to claim they mentioned it in an email but we had booked over the phone). Also intriguingly, it was charged as two charges of €25. Our instructor told us that he would not have spent 2-3 hours with us without charging this fee. We mentioned the 12% service charge but this was dismissed. Furthermore, a few of us had gift cards to pay. After the curfuffle they tried to claim they could only take 1 gift card, we didn't attempt to argue and politely declined this rule after which they conceded.

Anyhow, it seems to me that if you book a set menu in a restaurant or even just order off a menu, you are not charged extra for occupying the space that you are sitting in. If this was mentioned to us when we booked, we would still have considered it a sneaky add-on but still may have accepted it, but the fact it was slapped on at the end without comment seemed like a stab in the back of 6 friendly yet amateurish wine-tasters.

In defence of the staff they removed the charge after an awkward exchange yet the experience left a sour note on the evening, so much so that we probably wont go back. The wines were delicious though.

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    • Food
2  Thank Jamesstephensxcv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pierre C, Owner at The French Paradox Wine Shop & Wine Bar, responded to this reviewResponded 20 August 2017

Dear James Stephens,

We thank you for your review just published.
We cannot tell you how much we are sorry for the massive misunderstanding we created by our own fault that damaged an otherwise 'superb evening', when 'you had great time tasting wines', described as 'delicious wines' with 'your friendly and informative wine instructor'. You fairly noted that, after an 'awkward exchange', this misunderstanding was finally solved, and we thank you for this.
We have been enjoying for the last 15 years organizing such A la Carte/ personalized private wine class you ordered, made possible with our well trained wine tutors, our directly imported wines always praised for their value for money and our Wine Keeping equipment. Your first review is actually the first negative review we got on our Tasting evenings.
On a pure operational front, these evenings create some challenges, require the presence of a specially trained Wine instructor, requires an extra person to serve other tables while his colleague is conducting the tasting. In order to be able to continue offering this kind of events, we need to find a balanced and competitive pricing, that reflects the nature of expenses involved and still makes it attractive to get the interest of wine lovers.
Despite that, we do not charge any room rental.
We always accept gift cards as form of payment (although our Epos system can only accept one at a time, making the processing of several cards for 1 unique transaction a tricky experience).
The basic charge of € 35 correspond to a full sharing plate and 4 wines, shortly introduced by a wine waiter. When the tasting is required to be a bit more personalized (basically the type of full show you benefited of), we add a flat €50.- charge, shared by all members of the tasting (except on Tuesday, which is Tasting night). The 12% Service charge distributed among the whole staff is applied when the group is more than 5, as it is printed on our menus. Yet, when these charges above are added, we defy anybody to find a better value for money for such a great evening, a professional, fun, informative, and personalized wine tasting, in the country.
That is leaving us with the root of the misunderstanding that we claim responsibility for, due to:
- a quick and only verbal booking 'contract' without written confirmation
- a couple of important points not explained to you on the phone
- a failure to pass on details of the invoicing between staff members
- an overzealous cash register manager (who could blame him?), not properly briefed (and certainly intrigued by such the extreme good value of the tasting evening)
- a Web site that had not been updated to reflect what such ‘great evenings’ private wine classes should be worth.
Every cloud has a silver lining. This mishap made us realized how painful miscommunication mistakes can be, without mentioning the 'sour notes in the customer’s mouth' it can leave. A simple rephrasing of our Tasting offers on our Web site (with the small prints) will make it clear for all our future or existing individual customers. This is something we should have done sometime ago when we wrote our personalized offers to Sport & Social clubs and other Corporate entities that we are proud to be so successful.

Renewing our thanks for your review,

With our Kind Regards,

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15 - 19 of 185 reviews

Reviewed 15 August 2017 via mobile

Great little place very nice food and fantastic wines available. Had the duck and quail egg salad and a good chablis.

Thank Pam S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2017

After too many years to this superlative operation led admirably by Jacques and his team. Stand out dish by a country mile and perhaps even taking the honours from the legendary Boyer in Rheims was the stupendous pan seared foie.

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Thank 977mike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2017

The French staff were very welcoming , professional and efficient
However the food on the prix fixe menu was poor
Caviar d'aubergine looked awful and did not taste much better
Warm 'silk purse' was a pigs ear complete with cartilage with pork meat on toast
It looked disgusting and I can't imagine anyone other than a die hard Frenchman eating ear cartilage
The cassoulet was a poor imitation of the classic Toulousain dish - quite oily with large chunks of fatty sausage and a paucity of white beans and flavour
The smoked salmon salad was average and again looked messy on the plate
Tarte tatin was excellent as was the café gourmand

Wines are expensive - entry level €29 quickly rising to € 40 -50 for regional wines and much higher for decent Bordeaux etc.

Overall a disappointing evening

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Thank graham w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pierre C, Manager at The French Paradox Wine Shop & Wine Bar, responded to this reviewResponded 8 August 2017

Dear Graham,

We are very sorry to read your disappointing experience with us. We were saved from total humiliation, thanks to our staff performance and your sweet tooth that gave top marks to our tarte Tatin and our café gourmand. These positive comments go straight to our hearts.
Perhaps a misunderstanding about the type of place we are is at the origin of your shocking but helpful review.
Since our opening in 2002, every decision we took was to stay as close as possible to our vision: for our wine shop, a simple and unintimidating place where a lot of the Old World wines that had disappeared from the shelves in Ireland could be found again. For our Wine Bar, a casual, romantic, intimate place where the wine culture would be made available through a selection of French and Spanish wines and their associated local gastronomy. The French Paradox is built around reasonably priced wine and the food its supporting actor. We use a State of the Art Wine Keeping equipment that allows to order 6.25, 15, 18.75 cls glasses, 25 cl carafe to gently discover wines that people might have never heard of. But full bottles are also available from our 160 wines selection. At the very beginning, we were only serving a range of artisan cheese and cured meats charcuterie. But the first winter saw the demand of our customers become more precise. The Food & Wine matching game became more elaborate. We asked our producers their advise. Nobody better than a winemaker from Languedoc can recommend a dish that goes well with his red Minervois or full body Terrasse du Larzac. In this case, it is a Cassoulet from Castelnaudary with duck confit. When we venture in the South West of France, true rugby territory, with Cotes du Marmandais or Madiran, the Basque specialties from Pierre Oteiza reign.
We are aware of the initial repulsive sentiment a stuffed pig's ear can trigger but we recorded the same negative reaction with:
- the duck gizzards, we had to introduce as duck delicacies
- the Andouille (basically a tripe sausage) that we named chitterlings
- the Boudin noir (100% pig blood sausage) that were christened Basque Black pudding
- some pungent types of cheese have made our regulars, at the beginning, uncomfortable.
After 1 year or so, by public demand, we finally told our delighted customers what they really were eating. It was refreshing to see on their face the expression of this slight sentiment of being fools with pre-conceived ideas. If a die hard Frenchman eats it, why can't an adventurous Irish person eat it too? In our experience, ladies seem to be more adventurous that their male companions, as far as unusual type of foods are concerned.
Apart from the curing process that we do not master, we have opted to make our own French Tapas dishes in our kitchen, such as tapenades, hummus, caviar of Aubergine and foie gras . The rest, like our wines, are coming straight from the Producers.
What we are not? We are definitely not an aspiring Michelin star restaurant. We are almost embarrassed to be called restaurant. We also have too much respect for chefs and their crew who kill themselves day after day trying reaching the Holly Grail of the star system that is anyway, between you and me, not for the decent middle class family budget without a Company credit card. We are also not an aspiring Provencal joint, trying to bring the Med to Dublin. We are not great fans of mega clear rosés that are so light they could be whites.
Your comments have, however, resonated with some evolution debates we are having with our Team about the portioning of our dishes, the rebalancing of some of them where there might be too much healthy food such as salad, introducing more and more seasonality, more unusual foods, a more casual and unintimidating approach. We are as always working very hard to be in harmony with our faithful clientele, and to be attractive to a new breed of customers. When we read your review, it was not hard enough, but we cannot have been so wrong if we are still alive after 15 years. Let's call it a massive misunderstanding and we hope you will give us another chance.
The last lesson we get is that we should make the learning and discovery process everyone goes through with us more obvious and accepted, for the sake of more pleasure and happiness only.

The Team of the French Paradox
Wine Shop & Wine Bar
Est. 2002
A small family business in the heart of Dublin 4

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Reviewed 4 August 2017

Lovely little spot with great food (the salads are huge, by the way), a wonderful wine selection and friendly and efficient staff. Loved it.

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Thank wheelie07042
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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