"You're late!" were the first words growled at us by the manager at Tamarine. We were only about 15-20 minutes late and my friend apologized profusely explaining that they'd been moving all day and lost track of time. We even called saying we were running a bit late. Now mind you our reservation was at 5:45 pm on a Sunday afternoon, not 8pm Friday evening. That's about the time I'd start thinking about an aperitif but dinner at 5:45pm is more of a Pink Flamingo Retirement Home early bird special. I looked around. It was Sunday evening in the booming metropolis of downtown Palo Alto and this restaurant was about a quarter full. Hmmmm.... This certainly doesn't warrant that attitude.
"Well we can seat you but you'll have to leave by 7:30pm." Gee Toto, I guess we're not in Paris anymore! The above experience is unheard of in France, if for no other reason that most restaurants don't open before 8pm. Secondly, and more important, is that you are never rushed out, often having to request the bill a few time, and a long, leisurely 3-hour dinner is nothing short of a God-given right along with freedom of speech and the right to vote. "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" indeed and to this I add "Manger" (mon-zhay - to eat)!
As the clock ticked toward 7:30pm, we asked our waitress for the check and she graciously offered to move us to another table so we wouldn't have to rush out. We gratefully took her up on her offer and waited for her to let us know when she needed us to move. Minutes later, the manager swooped in on her broom and cackled that she needed the table and she needed it now! The reservation for our table had arrived and we promised to leave at 7:30pm.... so we left.