Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sugar - cubed or tubed?

Today we finalized a project that we've been working on for a while.
In the past, we've always served the raw cane sugar lumps with coffee. ('la Peruche'), however, we recently identified that what was intended as an upmarket offering was in fact an expensive, time consuming and potentially unsanitory one!

The expense isn't only in the product itself but also in the fact that every time a customer touches the stuff, it has to be thrown away and every day sugar bowls need to be filled anew. Customers of my mother's generation use their teaspoon to take sugar out of the bowl, others tend to use their hands! - enough said.

So one solution was to put lumps on the saucer (tricky at brunch when we use mugs), but this actually turned out to be psychologically worse for the customer - someone must have touched that sugar for it to be on the spoon!

So we decided on the individually wrapped sugar tubes. I know potentially less green, although with the saving in waste, delivery and fancy full color cardboard packaging, not that far off, but definitely an opportunity to further brand our product and to reflect our commitment to hygiene and cost awareness. This should also have an additional benefit by impacting our crew's attitude towards these two issues - costs & hygiene

We've already had samples of the sugar and quotes, so now all we have to do is order it! - will keep you posted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


One of our crew has just left to pursue a master's degree in Colorado. He will specialize in all that is vocal. One day we hope that he will have his own voice clinic and be working with household names. Whether he'll remember us or not remains to be seen (or heard!). Our Hollywood actor still does, as does our artist who is about to have his first show in a New York gallery, but will still come back to help us with our holiday decorations this December.

Our voice expert is leaving New York after 8 years, having arrived here aged 22 and he reminds me of so many of the great people that have worked with us. It's seldom in New York that we find front of house crew whose ambition it is to remain in the restaurant industry. We do have a few but most join this industry because it helps them to make money whilst pursuing other ambitions such as acting, singing, creating art etc.. Sometimes it gets in their way as they become dependent on their tips and choose to live a certain "industry" lifestyle that can be fun, fast and furious but also debilitating, destructive and dark (literally as most of it takes place at night!). As a result they end up going to work, partying and sleeping and having very little time to pursue their own ambitions, which in turn results in frustration, anger and blame (my job is keeping me from my career type of thing!)

Most will find a happy medium and along the way, hopefully, they will pick up some useful lessons from our industry. One of the major ones are tolerance and humility. I'm always interested when I hear a server complain, quite justifiably, about how a customer has talked down to them or been condescending. That sort of behavior is of course despicable. However in the same sentence a server will often also imply - "they think I'm just a waiter, but I'm only doing this so that I can pursue a real career" - hmmmmm! - bet the career waiters (like me!) and kitchen crew love that one!

Another great lesson is in being sociable and disciplined. The restaurant world is often the first world someone comes in to having left home and come to live in the big city to pursue their dream. Hence the restaurant becomes the new family. But this family is different - it's one where you have to get on with each other, or at least pretend to, where you don't necessarily get your own way, where you have to earn respect and where your performance impacts everyone else and will be judged by others accordingly - in other words this is a job and unlike in a family you can be asked to leave!

Working on the floor in a restaurant is also a great opportunity for developing selling skills which can then be applied to other aspects of life. This ones a bit trickier though, as restaurants differ in the way that they sell to their customers, as do bars, depending on the type of clientele, however, the basics are the same - how can you identify and satisfy your customer's needs within the framework of your business. This doesn't always mean that you can do exactly what they want but you learn to handle things in a way that keeps them loyal to your business.

So, all in all the restaurant isn't a bad place to learn some of the basics that will help you in a future life and/or career. Of course, there are also a few negative patterns of behavior that can be picked up in this as in any other environment, but we won't go in to that here.

Hopefully our voice expert, together with all the others who pass through our world will feel the same as I do and even if they don't remember the specifics, will think back to this time in their life as a productive and useful one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How can Cognac be a Fine Champagne?

How can a Cognac be a fine Champagne? - You may well ask - as did one of our customers the other day.
Let's get a few things straight here whilst confusing the hell out of everyone - it's a little bit like the famous tea towel that describes the very English game of cricket
You have two sides,
one out in the field and one in.
Each man that's in the side that's in
goes out, and when he's out he comes in,
and the next man goes in until he's out.
When they are all out, the side that's out
comes in, and the side that's been in goes
out ...
In the case of Cognac and champagne you have 2 very different drinks, although they are both made from grapes (ironically Champagne is partially made from a red grape, pinot noir, whilst Cognac is solely made from white, colombard, folle blanche and ugny blanc!).

One is a fermented grape juice (Champagne), the other is fermented and then distilled (twice in the case of Cognac, though this is not true of all brandies).

Champagne is a sparkling wine but not all sparkling wines are Champagne as they have to come from a specific area in France and be made in a particular way to be called Champagne. Cognac is a brandy (from the German Brandwein meaning burnt wine - ie distilled) but not all brandies are Cognacs as they have to come from the Cognac area of France and be made a specific way to be called Cognac.

All clear so far? Good - because there's more! So we now know that Cognac is a Brandy and Champagne a sparkling wine - so how come when I look at my bottle of Courvoisier VSOP it says that it is a "Fine Champagne"?

Given the English nature of V.S.O.P. (which stands for "very special old pale") you would be quite justified in thinking that "Fine Champagne" was also English, but it's not. In this case it's French and it is refering to a blend of grapes from a small growing area in France which is in the heart of the Cognac growing region and is made up of 2 smaller areas "Grande Champagne" and "Petite Champagne". In order to qualify for this denomination, 50% of the grapes have to come from the Grande Champagne area. Of the 6 different growing areas in the Cognac region these are at the centre and considered the best - most mid-range Cognacs are made from grapes from these 2 areas whilst the older, more expensive Cognac blends tend to be solely from the "Grande Champagne" (an area of aproximately 80,000 acres, of which 17% is planted with vines) where the "terroir" (soil condition) is considered the best.

So when you see Fine Champagne on the label it means that the grapes used to make the Cognac you're about to drink come from the centre of the Cognac area, it has nothing to do with the sparkling wine known as Champagne. If you see Grande Champagne on the label the same applies, but this time 100% of the grapes are from that tiny area at the core of the Cognac area. Confusingly you can also get "Grande Fine Champagne" and "Petite Fine Champagne" - just knock out the "fine" to get where they come from.

See - simple!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sit in my lap?

Why would it matter where I sit? Well normally it doesn't.

Believe me, I'm not one of those who assumes that I can choose any table I like when I step into a restaurant early and there seem to be lots of empty places. I know it would be great if the two of us could sit at that lovely round top in the window that's laid up for 6 but that's not going to happen - or if it does, I doubt this restaurant will be here in a year! Whether you like it or not restaurants have a finite number of tables and they need to 'turn' them if they're going to survive.

Just occasionally though I have to say something. It happened a few days back when I went to quite a casual Brasserie for lunch where they don't accept reservations. Somehow I ended up in what felt like their broom closet. I was squashed against a pillar, close to the bar, that blocked my view of the 5 or 6 empty (2 top) tables by the windows. A foot to my right was one of only two other customers engaged in a fun relationship with her I-pod. Meanwhile over my left shoulder I could feel the tickle of what turned out to be the dining out section of the NYT as my fellow diner turned the page. This gentleman, perched on a stool at the bar stool, was none too happy when I swatted his newspaper a couple of times, suspecting a flying insect!

So, I asked if I could move to one of the tables in the window. Of course I was way too distracted watching the waiter seat the next few groups of people to take advantage of my window view, and I couldn't help noticing that the next 2 tables also both asked to be moved! When this happens I normally pride myself in being able to understand what's going on, but this one got me - either the host was just having a bad day or more likely (s)he'd been told to fill up someone's section.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Le Beaujolais Nouveau va arriver - in plastic bottles!!

I had a great conversation the other night with some guests over the whole Beaujolais Nouveau thing. We all agreed that it had done little to promote those great Beaujolais such as Brouilly, Fleurie, Moulin a Vent etc., but it had put Beaujolais on the map for good or for bad!

Some time in the 1980s what had traditionally been a local passion and interest in what the latest production of the very young Beaujolais table wine would taste like, turned in to a world-wide marketing phenomenon, no doubt encouraged by some local wine marketing consortium.

The goal I'm sure was to created a larger demand for and a greater awareness of Beaujolais, which at that time was no doubt lagging behind other French wine growing areas, like Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy. Although Beaujolais is actually in the southern extremities of Burgundy, it does make sense to separate it as the dominant red grape here is Gamay as opposed to the Pinot Noir of the rest of Burgundy. As early as 1395 Phillip the Bold's famous decree outlawing the Gamay grape from being grown in the then duchy of Burgundy made sure of this separation.

So a competition was set up which involved getting the latest Beaujolais Nouveau wines to the furthest reaches in the world, as fast as possible - a wine marathon of sorts. This led to some great stunts involving airplanes, concord, helicopters, submarines, rickshaws, bionic people etc.. And it worked, suddenly everyone was talking about "Le Beaujolais Nouveau" and the phrase "le Beaujolais est arrive" entered into every wino's vocabulary. Soon 50% of the region's wine production was crushed, fermented, bottled, labelled, shipped and drunk within 3 months of being picked!!!

In 1985 the rules changed so that the Beaujolais Nouveau could be released no sooner than the third Thursday in the month of November (it used to be 15th November) - just in time for the weekend!!

This year will be no different. Sure enough at 1 minute past midnight on Thursday 20th November 2008, the starting gun will sound in towns and villages like Beaujeu and millions of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau will start their race towards the 4 corners of the world.

We'll get our Beaujolais Nouveau on Friday 21st - this year though it will be in plastic bottles!!!!

The problem is that shipping or rather plane delivery is proving too expensive - a discrepancy is beginning to open between quality, price and novelty. As the cost of a case delivered by plane goes to $140, more and more outlets are willing to wait for the ship delivery which will only cost $105, but then what's the point in featuring the wine since the whole idea of being one of the first to serve it will be lost and maybe there are some better bargains out there at that price!

So some smart George will bottle his Beaujolais Nouveau in plastic to keep the shipping costs down. What will these marketing geniuses think of next? It worked with me - I never usually buy the stuff but this year, I ordered a case before the grapes had even been picked - just out of curiosity!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scooter Power

This really has very little to do with restaurants, bars or food except that I ride my scooter to work every day and it's amazing what you can carry on a scooter - produce from the farmers' market, cases of wine, bags of bread, printers from Staples etc.... My scooter may also be responsible for this blog since I started on this project just after I was knocked off the bike and received 'light' injuries to the head!

Be that as it may, I have become very attached to my scooter and less and less attached to the NYC department of transport. It's somewhat confusing how in this day and age, with rising fuel costs etc, the city should ignore and even actively discourage the use of scooters. There are no scooter parks in NYC, if you park between cars you often get knocked over, if you park on the sidewalk you get fined the same amount that a car does (the DOT is neither sizeist nor wheelist in this respect).

If you leave for more than a few days, the only really legal option you have is to garage your scooter and guess what - it costs as much for a scooter as a car.

There are a few tricks (none of which I would use of course!). Take the number plate off when you park on the sidewalk (they can still track you down with a VIN number - but it's hard for a ticket to stick if there's no number plate), cover the scooter (if anyone uncovers it you can claim it's been damaged so they tend to leave it alone) , find an area where there are obviously lots of other scooters and bikes - it normally means the traffic cops are more lenient!

LATEST UPDATE:  Be very careful how you park!  I just got a ticket for parking with my front wheel to the curb, as opposed to my back wheel! Hmmmmmm - I rest my case.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lazy Waiter Technique

The lazy waiter is the best waiter! I can't remember where I first heard that but it's stuck with me and that's how I start off many of my training sessions - It's often greeted with glee from those who'll actually suffer from this mantra and with confusion by those who'll live up to it!

The whole idea behind the lazy waiter technique is quite simple and you could apply it to most jobs - it's based on the theory that you don't walk past things that need doing and that you leave behind clues of what you've done - in this way you use as little shoe leather as possible (and waiters walk a long way!) and you don't repeat yourself or end up like one of those people who run around looking frazzled and busy yet end up doing nothing (next time you go to a restaurant watch - there's usually one who covers miles without actually achieving anything).

Obvious examples of this are, if you're walking empty handed through the dining room pick things up, if a table needs straightening, staighten it, a napkin needs picking up, pick it up, if you're opening a bottle of wine at a table take the breathing space to look around at other tables, see what needs doing and re- prioritize your next few minutes etc...if you don't do it now you or someone else will have to do it later.

This may seem like a very simple mantra and it is, but there are many more subtle things that are linked to the lazy waiter technique and that you as the diner may not be aware of.

The lazy waiter doesn't like surprises so she/he is prepared, all the 'sidework' is done, the floor plan is set and there will be as few hicups as possible to throw a spanner in the works during the actual service (this will give her/him more time to deal with the less controllable aspects of the game - one of which of course is the custome!).

The lazy waiter is part of a team of lazy waiters and without having to say very much to each other they can communicate everything that is going on on the floor because they have a pre-rehearsed system. At each stage of your meal your waiter is leaving clues at your table to remind her/himself and everyone else who is taking care of you where you're at in your meal. An upturned glass might indicate that you have ordered tap water or that a cocktail is on it's way, bread at your table might mean that you have ordered your meal and are waiting for your apetizer, certain silverware will show that your main course has been 'fired' or that you've ordered dessert, salt off the table indicates another stage in the meal etc..

Think of your meal as a play, your waiter is the stage-manager, setting up and controling each act. The final curtain for the best lazy waiter is to have been so efficient at meeting your needs that when you get up to leave the only evidence of your presence is a glass, a napkin and the check (with a nice fat tip hopefully) - that way the customer has been taken care of, the table can be 'bussed' and 'turned' as quickly as possible and it's time to stage the next performance.

Of course you never really appreciate the art and skill of the lazy waiter until it's not there - because it's only then that things start to fall apart. That's when you start to think that maybe the place you're eating in is either too lazy to teach the technique, doesn't get it or simply doesn't care - initially by the way I wanted to blame it on the person not the business, but of course, as we all know, the magic is in the attitude and training which starts at the top.

Got any lazy waiter techniques or seen any evidence of it - let me know!

Monday, September 8, 2008

New York Wine and Food Festival

Yes it's on it's way - the New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine (Hmmm! - did someone change the order on purpose?) is here to delight us from 9th October to 12th October.   In the footsteps fo the highly succesful Miami event, this I'm sure is set to become a regular New York moment, full of stars, tinsel, fancy parties and huge charity events.

Anyway, if you dig deep enough and search beyond the star studded cast that leaps out at you from the website you'll find that Jarnac restaurant (towards which I'm oddly bias!), together with many great local restaurants, is participating in the Meatpacking Eats event (I know who knew Jarnac was in the Meatpacking area, but according to many maps it is!).

This event is encouraging restaurants around the area to create a special menu exclusively for this weekend and to pair these around the Southern Wine and Spirits of New York Portfolio (I smell a sponsor!).

Jarnac is doing what it does best and has created a prix fixe menu based around all that's local and at the farmers' market at that time of year.  It's pairing this with some interesting local wines and topping it off with it's signature cocktail, the coup de Jarnac made with Nicolas Feuillate Champagne.  The menu is at $38 without the wine tasting - $78 with.  And here exclusively on this blog is the menu:

Goat cheese flan with an heirloom beet salad
Tempura battered strips of skate with 3 fresh bean salad
Knollcrest chicken liver mousse with toast

Pan Roasted Local Bluefish with  Spicy Tomato Sauce and Fingerling potatoes
Knollcrest Chicken Stewed with caramelized baby onions, quince and honey

Bread pudding

Bon Apetit - be sure to book, it's going to be busy!

Useful Links

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tepid Tilapia!!

Something interesting happened that other night when I was out to dinner - having finished the meal a customer mentioned that their fish had been a bit tepid! Obviously this was reported back to the Maitre D' who came up to the table to apologise.

When she suggested that next time the customer might want to mention this earlier so that the mistake could be rectified, the guest quite understandably replied that he was in mid-conversation with his dining companion and didn't really want to be sitting there with an empty space while his friend ate.

I noticed that when the check came to the table the customer's main course had been comped (to comp - does this verb exist?) by the house, much to the customer's surprise I think!

I was certainly impressed, with things being as tight as they are in restaurants these days and the fact that most restaurants in our area are still reeling from the summer, the temptation might have been to give the customer a dessert or an after dinner drink to avoid too much overhead being lost, or in some cases the argument could have gone - you ate it, you pay for it, you should have said something earlier!

Of course all of these reactions are justifiable in one way or another, but although I don't think the restaurant was obliged to do this, I feel the right thing was done here. The customer left with a good positive feeling towards the restaurant as did his companion, which means that they will probably come back and are less likely to talk about their bad experience, or if they do it will be tinged with praise for the way the situation was dealt with.

I already hear the cynics out there, and believe me I am not immune to this - what if the person in question did this everywhere they went (and this could be for a number of reasons - they always have to complain, they are seeking attention or they like to get comped etc..) - I guess that's where the Maitre D' earns her keep - will this person be back, will their complaints impact business, do they just need to be kept quiet for the sake of other diners etc...

One idea that I like which sort of avoids these issues is to give out Gift cards as an alternative to comping. In this way the person needs to come back to benefit, so if their experience has left them slightly luke warm (!) you get another chance to wow them. Using this method, you can also appear to be comping a bit more and you can up the value of the comp on the theory that this will be future business that you might not otherwise have had.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

To serve or not to serve

The other evening we hosted a private dinner at the restaurant to celebrate a couple's 55th wedding anniversary. That is itself is something to write about, but we'll leave that for another time. Before the evening began there was, as always, the usual pandemonium that ensues when we are asked to do something that is out of our usual routine. Add to this the fact that the flowers hadn't arrived, we were 6 champagne glasses short (where did they go in the 24 hours between stock take and party?) and one of the invited guests arrived 1 hour too early while we were still in full prep and you have a fairly normal pre-opening mess.

Of course the flowers did arrive, we borrowed glasses from another restaurant and the team member who was threatening to leave because of an argument with the kitchen decided to stay.

At 6.30 the party arrived. Throughout the night not one of those guests had any inclin of the shenanigans that had been going on minutes before they stepped through the door - and that is one of the great kicks of working in restaurants.

Forget the lame addage of "the customer is always right", everyone knows that's not always true. What is true however is that the customer is our prime focus, it's all about them whether we like it or not and we are there to serve them in the true and non-demeaning sense of the word.

Some people can do this, some have major problems with it, invariably taking customers ill-chosen and often inapropriate (sometimes insulting) comments personally - and that will make your life on the floor hell

Monday, September 1, 2008


So these little thoughts whipped through my mind today after I'd spent $3.50 on a Latte that proceded to burn a lasting memory on the roof of my mouth. Didn't they hear the milk screaming at them in agony? Should they have warnings on their cups - careful Barista in training! Should I take it back and complain that it's too hot, especially as the person before me thought their's was too cold? Should I just shut up - wait for it to cool down - then drink it?

I ended up doing the latter (although I never finished it), because I realised that the person making the coffee was probably really not to blame - as with most things it's in the training, and the training doesn't come from each customer having a different idea of how their milk should be heated, it comes, first from a realisation that there is infact an art to making coffee and coffee drinks, secondly from an understanding of how that works - just because you have a nice espresso machine, doesn't mean you can make coffee!

And that's one of the reasons why there's such a huge difference in the quality of coffee that's served around the city. I don't really know enough about coffee to comment on the type of bean and the roasting method etc (would love to hear from someone who does). I'm also convinced that the type of machine you use, whether you filter your water and how you clean your machine comes in to play. As with everything though, the proof is in the pudding, so here is the beginning of a list (in no particular order) of places where I think they serve great coffee - please add to it and comment and note that this list is not reseved for just espresso based coffees!

Ciao for Now
The Verb
Grumpy Cafe
Le Gamin
Cafe Gitane

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dinner on the Farm - September 27th 2008

On Saturday 27th September Chefs Maryann Terillo (Jarnac Restaurant - chef/partner) and Elisa Sarno (Babbo) will be cooking the monthly Farmfresh dinner at Guy Jones' Blooming Hill Farm in upstate New York. (By upstate we're talking 1 hour away - Blooming Grove not Niagara Falls!)

This, as always, is going to be a blast - the tour of the farm starts at about 5.30, followed by a 5 course vegetarian dinner based around whatever ingredients are available on the farm at the time - paired, of course, with some great wines and accompanied by some of the herbs picked fresh from the beds that you've just walked past on the way to the barn.

If you still think that local and vegetarian sounds a bit dubious (organic at that!), this is a great opportunity to prove yourself wrong and who better to do it with than Maryann, Elisa and Blooming Hill Farm owner and host Guy Jones, recently written up as one of a handful of local Farmers' with cult New York followings in a New York Magazine Article.

Those in the know have been attending these monthly dinners for over 6 years - that's why you'll be joining 60 or more localvores who are all there for the same reason - great local produce, great company, great chefs and most of all a great time!

Tickets for this event should be bought directly from the farm - 845-782-7310

You could make a weekend of it as there are a number of attractions like: The Storm King Art Center, Dia:Beacon, West Point Military Academy, and Woodbury Common Premium Outlets (not quite sure how that got in that list!) and some great hiking/outdoor activities in the area.

Hope to see you there!



Phyllo wrapped feta and green olives

Pecorino Romano shortbread

Pumpkin – raisin Foccacia


Platter of pickled, steamed, baked and roasted vegetables with country bread


Goat Cheese and Tarragon Custard with Roasted White, Gold and Candy Cane Beets

Garnished with Roasted Walnuts with Brown Sugar and Ancho Chili


Mushroom Consommé with Wild Mushrooms, Roasted corn and Lima Beans


Lasagna made with Hand cut Noodles Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini and Wild Mex Tomatoes


Local Cheese Course (TBA)


Polenta Cake with Honey Roasted Quince and Bartlett Pears

Here are a few useful links:

Storm King Lodge

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rooftop Eating

So here come the last days of summer and my thing is, where can I eat on a roof? - I'm done with sitting outside on sidewalks breathing in the fumes from the traffic.

I remember this being a big thing in Istanbul of all places - it's quite something, you arrive at these dingy looking apartment blocks hidden down equally squalid streets. In the hallway is a doorman cum bouncer who calls for the 2 man elevator that you squeeze in to and which whisks you up to the top floor.

On the roof top it couldn't be more different -this is where the beau monde hang out. The views are stunning, the cocktails are exquisite and the food is great - and by our standards it's not that pricey.

There are quite a few of these rooftop bars and restaurants perched on top of regular apartment buildings in Istanbul. I think that maybe in New York some of them might have a few issues with Health and Safety, but surely in a city with such a great skyline and that is so obsessed with the vertical that there should be a few more of these here - and not just on top of the 5 star hotels and exclusive membership only clubs! Maybe there are and I just don't know about them - any clues?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Closed for Vacation

We've just closed the restaurant for a week as we do every year on the week before labor day. Ironically, but not uncommonly of course, we had our busiest 3 days of the summer before we closed - go figure!

The reasons for closing are mixed. It forces us all to take a break from each other which is well needed especially after the summer doldrums. It allows us to make repairs and repaint the restaurant. It gives us the chance to take a step back and think more about the bigger picture and less about the day to day challenges (hence the blogging!!) and at the end of the day it might even save money - Now how can that be?

Summers in New York are notoriously dead - many of our customers in the West Village have or know someone who has a house in the country so weekends, usually our busiest times, become very slow - good thing to know if you've been looking for that hard to get reservation all year. Weekdays can pick up a bit and Thursday definitely becomes the new Friday and Sundays get a little crazy, but that's not enough to make up for the weekend drop off.

Overheads on the other hand go soaring! Even without the utility companies' efforts to double our bills, the summer is a killer - air-conditioning costs are huge, refrigeration is tested to its limit (this is the time of year when everything breaks down if it's going to) and the crew still need to be paid even if you have less customers.

So instead of watching your dollars fly out of the air conditioning unit and straight out the door whenever the stray customer comes in (or the front of house go out to pace the sidewalk in frustration!), why not give everyone 1 week of their vacation allowance now and have a refreshed team ready for the fall and the busy holidays? - sounds good to me - I just wish we could do it the European way and take the whole month!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's with that Bottle?

So last night we had an interesting situation. We ordered a bottle of Burgundy which was absolutely delicious ( we preceded that with a Chinon Rose - also worth a try) and then ordered another bottle of the same wine - a Chenas 2006.
The second bottle did not have the same quality of taste as the first and all four of us at the table agreed - the somelier then tasted it and said it was fine.
In a funny way it was - it didn't really deteriorate like a corked wine would after it's been opened - it just didn't have the yummyness of the first bottle and to be fair it was disappointing but drinkable.
This of course led to a discussion which brought up some questions about wine service, the most pertinent of which was:
Just because a customer doesn't like a wine, should the restaurant take it back and open a new or different wine?
I say yes in most circumstances as long as the customer is not taking advantage (hmm what does that mean?), although I think it's important for the customer to realize that this is a courtesy thing not a pre-requisite - when drinkers order a particular wine they are not tasting it it to see if they like it but to see if it's corked. Also maybe get them to taste it in a different glass (it could be the glass!).
Other things that came up in conversation were whether the modern diner likes to have her/his wine poured for them/the whole fad of wine doggy bags and over-pouring and upselling.