Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | April 1, 2012

When in Guadeloupe . . .

N 16° 18.5′   W 61° 47.7

Deshaies, Guadeloupe

We had a beautiful passage from Antigua to Deshaies (DAY-AY), a charming village on the northwest coast of Guadeloupe and have been enjoying our time here. The church bell rings out the hour, plays a little tune on the half-hour, and sounds at various other times for occasions that we have yet to figure out. Customs check-in was a quick session on the self-serve computer. Dogs? Pas de probleme! We love being back in France.

I have been having trouble with some of our recent dining ashore adventures. First I had the communication problem in Barbuda where we were apparently expected to show up by 10 am for a lobster lunch reservation. We arrived at noon and found the cook had gone home – tired of waiting for us, the only patrons for the day.

Here in Deshaies, I offended a local restauranteur with my Trip Advisor review. Our meals were well-prepared, but I was taken aback that while half of the main courses listed were “poissons” (fish), and half were “viandes” (meat), the only poisson available was ouassou (crayfish, tempura style). The menu stated that lobster was available only by reservation. Fair enough, that is commonly done and we hadn’t planned our outing well in advance. The menu didn’t mention that the other seafood items were not readily available. We had already taken a table and ordered wine so we stayed. But I was disappointed as we don’t dine out often and I am not a viande-lover. I had visions of New Orleans style crayfish with the heads on, I didn’t want a fried dish and didn’t think my French was adequate to discuss preparation details and alternatives with the chef. So no ouassou for me, rather a simple salad and shrimp cocktail appetizer, which turned out to be an interesting baby shrimp and pineapple salad. Still beats cooking aboard.

One of the main reasons we had chosen the restaurant, not mentioned in the cruising guide which is carefully neutral about recommending places to dine, was the favorable Trip Advisor review. We usually do okay by Trip Advisor and I felt compelled to add my two cents worth to the database. I didn’t give a bad review, just three stars out of five, or average. Four stars means very good, and I’m sorry, a misleading menu is not very good. I titled my review “Lacking in Seafood” which was the truth. In all fairness, Bob was very pleased with his choice of lamb. But it was my review. I suggested they add “when available” if they insist on listing routinely unavailable items on the laminated menu. And suggested that future patrons might want to make more specific inquiries about the menu if they are at all picky like I am.

The next day I got a private message back from the restaurant owner. Having dealt with customer service concerns from time to time myself, I was surprised that the response was not an apology or acknowledgement that my input would be considered and used to improve future communications with their patrons. The e-mail said that the menu was clearly posted for me to see outside the restaurant, that with the local water temperature being 32 degrees (celcius) that fresh fish is hard to come by, and that any good Guadeloupan desiring seafood would have been happy with the one available choice. The e-mail was in French, but I understood the message: Lady, get over it and eat the ouassou like the rest of us.

Okay, I’ll work on being a more flexible international diner. For the record, we had a fantastic meal out in Antigua – another Trip Advisor recommendation – and as far as I can tell didn’t break any unwritten rules or offend anyone with our lack of cultural knowledge. And I had excellent seafood.

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