‘Le Bilboquet Made Us Leave an Empty Restaurant!’

The interior of L
The interior of Le Bilboquet when the women were asked to leave.

Friday evening, D Magazine’s lifestyle editor, Raya Ramsey, and D: The Broadcast’s Courtney Kerr headed over to Le Biboquet for cocktails. The restaurant opened last week and Carol filed a report on the French bistro in the former L’Ancestral space at Travis Walk.

Here’s Ramsey’s report:

Courtney and I decided to pop in (no reservations) at 5 pm for drinks. No food, just wine. We were the first outside diners in the restaurant. There was a table outside eating with the hostess and a table of kitchen crew eating in the corner. We had three rounds and eventually split an order of fries. The food plates were cleared. We ordered a fourth glass of Prosecco at 7 pm and instead of bringing us drinks, our waiter brought us the check. At this point, the restaurant was still pretty empty. He told us we needed to leave because of reservations coming in. He was clearly uncomfortable asking us to leave but cited “he’s getting nervous about incoming reservations.” Not sure who “he” was, but okay. The odd thing was that the restaurant was still empty. I mean, there was only one, maybe two or two tables of diners. I totally get a brand new restaurant preparing for a reservation-packed night, but no one was there. Why couldn’t we stay for one more glass and then wrap it up? We weren’t asked to move outside, where I doubt anyone would be dining, we were asked to leave. It was the strangest experience and it was uncomfortable for all three of us. The owner was there, bustling around, but never stopped by about this.

Is this a normal thing to happen? I guess I just don’t like the way in which it was executed. The server felt weird about it, which made us feel weird about it. Maybe he could have told us at 6 pm, “Hey guys, at 7 pm, the tables are reserved for tonight’s dinner rush,” instead of just kicking us out on the spot.

Hmm. If I’m a new restaurant, I’m not asking anyone to leave. Especially those two. I’d love to hear how other restaurants handle this.


  • JShu68

    I host occasionally for a restaurant around the corner from this place and I find this to be totally unacceptable. The most respectable thing, what I do, is inform the guests I will need this table at 7 and always try to accommodate them somewhere else in the restaurant if they want to stay longer when the table is needed – whether it be at another table that is available, bar or outside. Seems like they could have easily moved you outside…

  • DrinkResponsibly

    Maybe they just didn’t want to be liable for two women who were on their 4th glass of Proseco with only a few french fries in their tummies at 7pm?

  • GiGi

    This is the norm in NYC unless you are a regular.

  • Kym

    Oh boo hoo!

  • NanaB

    My hubby and I were eating at another upscale restaurant a year or two ago. It was a special occasion, and we let the server know that we intended to linger over several courses, and he was most accommodating. Before our main course was served, the manager came over and asked if we would mind changing tables, because they had a large group coming in to the room in which we were seating. Of course we didn’t mind, and moved. The manager bought our bottle of wine for us (about $75) to thank us. There are good ways and bad ways to handle things like this, and Bob’s handled it correctly.

  • Peter Kurilecz

    but this is Dallas not NYC

  • anonymous

    I say just go to Toulouse around the corner.

  • Yvonne Crum

    there are 5 ways to say it.. he didn’t pick anyone of them….! i have talked to several people that have dined there … and didn’t like it.. I will stick to Cafe Pacific… where everyone is nice.. and appreciate you being there.. lots of big time restaurants from NYC have gone bankrupt and gone back to NYC licking their wounds.. yes, it’s a see and be see restaurant for the lovelies.. but being rude won’t lat long… !

  • Liz Johnstone

    I’d say that’s not necessarily true, regardless. At the very least, a good, popular NYC restaurant will tell you when you walk in that they’re expecting to get busy around X time, and that they might have to ask you to change tables or move to the bar at some point. That way, the diners know up front.

  • Glenn Campbell

    This sounds like a very polite and courteous way of “cutting these ladies off. “. If they weigh around 125, in two hours they would have been at about .067BAC with a 5 ounce serving. A fourth pour and neither is probably cool to drive.

  • Molly

    I had a reservation Le Bilboquet on Saturday at 8pm, and the restaurant (including the outside) was absolutely packed. I understand the frustration here, but the first priority is to those who have planned ahead and made a reservation. There is no bar area, so there’s not another place to move. I would also like to say that I’ve found the waiters and management to be outstanding. And… I’m addicted to the cajun chicken!

  • primi timpano

    Maybe this is why the original NYC restaurant closed.

  • Molly

    It’s re-opening in a larger location 🙂

  • peter b

    i ate there it was not very good for a $35.00 entree place. also for some reason they seem entitled to cone off public parking spaces on the street as if they own them and put up a sign that say s $5.00. that is not legal.

  • Deb


  • alexv

    This sounds like 3 things went wrong. 1) The owner/manager should have made a table visit and explain the situation and asked you to move to a table that was not reserved until at least 1 hour later. 2) The owner/manager should have not reserved so many tables at once so early since the kitchen will get in the weeds from the start. A disaster waiting to happen. 3) Yes, he may have been concerned about 4 drinks in petite ladies bodies and nothing but french fries. Liability here but a few free appetizers to win you over should have been given to you. handled totally wrong. Yes, I am in the business….

  • Brian Beneke

    Except that Toulouse is sub-par.

  • DallasCityGirl

    Get over it!

  • DallasCityGirl

    Get over it!

  • curmudgeon

    …so they can rude to even more people? or so they have a more empty space to kick people out of?

  • Kim Scarlett

    I’m not in “the business” but don’t you make a nice margin on wine and all someone has to do is pour it? $10×8 glasses= $80 and a $13 plate of fries. Uh, not too bad if you ask me.
    “Ladies this table is reserved at 7pm, but the table in the corner isn’t until 8 pm. Can I ask you to move over there, please?” How hard would that have been?

  • curmudgeon

    I am curious, should someone standing in front of you wanting to buy something, anything, cash in hand be less of a priority than the ringing phone and a POSSIBLE sale? Someone actually got in the car and drove down there to check it out and they get bumped for a reso that isn’t even there yet and might not show up or be late.

  • Molly

    I agree that the waiter didn’t handle it well, but that doesn’t mean the entire waitstaff at both locations have a bad attitude. Take a deep breath, people!

  • Just Saying

    May be Courtney was getting LOUD and Obnoxious after her 3-4 glasses

  • Valerie Finley

    Just ate there last weekend. It got really crowded by 6 pm. But we never felt forced to leave. The crab avocado salad was delightful too!

  • no foody

    I don’t understand why people eat at places like this anyway… no respect for the hard earned money their husbands provide by wasting it at a fancy places like this.

  • Robert Sullivan

    Paying guest vs.empty table…I know what I’d do.

  • Barry Kooda

    “We treat you like you’re family….the Manson family…”

  • curmudgeon

    THE WAITER? The poor waiter was doing as he was told to do by “him”. Didn’t you read before you commented? Or are you in such a hurry to defend their behavior that you missed the subject we are discussing? It was not “bad attitude” it was the art of NOT telling people to leave so others (not there yet) are not incovienced by your presence. Here’s your check, here’s your hat there’s the door! This attitude has killed tons of new restaurants in the past. It is easy to turn someone away when your busy but you will not always be busy. Then how do you get those that you have not handled well back. ….you don’t. Remember the Fickle 500…..

  • runDMC

    What’s the over/under on shill comments in this thread?
    I’m saying 3.

    • curmudgeon

      3 Shills? Manny Moe and Jack, Moe Larry Curley? D M C? Yunk Yunk Yunk ! I
      I’m no Shill just a smarta$$ with time to kill

  • Paul Spurlock

    Then you try to get them to eat more before telling them to leave….. you know, make a sale instead of losing a customer. Besides if the establishment feels that way they need to communicate it instead of allowing the customer to keep on going about their business somewhere else as if everything is all right.

  • Paul Spurlock

    The waiter shouldn’t have had to handle it at all. The manager is the one that should have spoken to these ladies.

  • Brad Hughes

    Same thing happened to us, only much, much worse. This past Saturday night, the 16th, we had a 5:00 dinner reservation for four. We rushed to arrive promptly, as we had been told their only availability was at 5:00 or 9:30. Yet the bistro was essentially empty and didn’t start to fill up untl just before 6:30. We began with champagne (Billecart Salmon), we all ordered appetizers, we all ordered entrees and we shared a dessert. We also had two bottles of wine and four bottles of sparkling water during the course of our meal. Once we had finished, however, our server was nowhere to be found. So we asked the French co-owner, who happened to be standing around, if we might have another bottle of Billecart before we left.

    He said no very ubruptly, unless we were willing to move outside, where the temp was 94. He went on to say that someone who makes a 5:00 reservation has no right to stay at a table for so long. It was now 8:00. We had spent $450 (without tip) and we about to make it $560 (plus tip) when we essentially were told to leave. He said he had to have the table back for other people with reservations.

    I looked around the entire room and saw that only one table that had ordered wine by the bottle. Practically every customer was ordering wine by the glass. I also didn’t see hardly anyone with starters or desserts. Obviously, this owner is not very good at math. We had already spent more on one bottle of champagne than most of his customers were spending on four entrees. And he wanted us to leave and make room for whom…

    As if this weren’t enough, he then proceeded to berate my friend’s wife, and in a rather loud tone of voice, that in his 27 years of being in the restaurant business, that no one, not even in Paris nor in New York, had ever been allowed to sit at a table as long as we had been “allowed” to. I had to ask him three times to stop shouting at her and to please bring us the check. Clearly, this man does not know how to interact with customers, much less handle a delicate situation.

    Looking back, I should have suspected he was an amateur when the waiter, who also was rather impertinent at times, informed us that it was a “kitchen requirement” to order one’s entree when one orders their appetizer. I had never heard that one before, but went along. Apparently, there is a real desire to keep turning the tables in this place.

    My suggestion to the investors of this “business” would be to remove this man from the premises and replace him with an experienced people person. If the investors are placing this much pressure on management (or themselves) to cycle customers through so quickly as to ruin their customers’ evenings, this establishment’s lease will be going back to the landlord in short order. By the way, between the time we flagged someone down to ask for the check, and by the time we got our credit card back, we could have finished that second bottle of Billecart.

    This was all so disappointing to us because we had been looking forward to finding a new, friendly neighborhood place to frequent. However, we will never return. After dinner, we walked down to Toulouse, where we had two more bottles of champagne and a rather large souffle. The souffle was courtesy of the maitre de, who, after hearing our story, felt compelled to restore our faith in the French. Now there is a man who knows how to run a business as well as make people feel welcome.

    As far as Courtney and Raya’s experience, it clearly should have been handled much more deftly. There are many ways to accomplish such a transition and yet leave the customer smiling broadly. I also can understand the bistro’s position of wanting to make room for bigger spenders. The funny thing is, however, they don’t seem to know what to do once they have them.

  • Former NYC Girl

    Former NYC Girl. Welcome to the New “No”.Y.C. This is exactly the way they treat you on 63rd Street, Madison Ave, etc.

  • Fred

    Lived on 86th & Park for five years, Sutton Place before that. Never had anything like that happen anywhere. Besides, Big D is not NYC!

  • Randy McCluer

    Brad, tell me how interesting the wine list is, so I can be even more mad about not going there now after hearing all of these stories. I was hoping for more Loire reds & Bojos than Dallas has ever seen, and maybe some fun stuff from the Jura to top it off.

  • Susie Bauer

    After owning two restaurants in this town, I can tell you without reservation (that is meant to be funny) that we would NEVER have done something like this, NEVER!!!! Nor would Alain Pierre…. miss L’Ancestral and their warm and welcoming service.

  • AmyS

    Welcome to D the “we’re friendly” city. Adapt or close.

  • Mike

    Sounds like typical rude service in Paris.

    • twinwillow

      And, New York!

  • Raya-Gabrielle Ramsey

    The waiter actually suggested the last round. If he was concerned about our level of intoxication, I doubt he would have offered to serve another glass.

  • GiGi

    Correction…this was the norm at Bilbo in NYC.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Okay Twin Willie, really? This is not sports, this is a business that has just opened and is employing people. Hopefully they will right their wrong and go forward,

  • Deborah Young

    Not to mention, the scallops in the photo looked wildly overcooked!

  • critic

    I walked in solo to LeBiblioquet Thursday at 5:30 pm asking if I may be seated for dinner. One table was occupied at the time. The hostess clicked on her computer screen and stated every table was booked until 11:00pm tonight and Friday. I could plainly view the screen showing over half the tables blocked out in red letters, ” MANAGER RESERVED TABLE” Possibly this procedure is because the kitchen, wait staff, and management cannot handle
    the crowd flow. I doubt it, but if this restaurant does not make drastic changes my prediction is a closing before 2014, possibly sooner !

  • Anonymous

    If you arrived at 5 pm had drinks and just a plate of fries , I think it was time to go have diner at 7 pm not drinking an other glass of prosecco and you could of make reservation at Bilboquet for the next week ………they let you stayed 2 hours for glass of wine it’s a restaurant not a bar

  • RJOLive

    Tacky, tacky, tacky.

  • Frenchies Suck

    what do you expect from the French? Rude and treat people badly whatever the establishment is.

  • Janet Davis

    Unbelievable! Poor waiter and poor, anxious, nervous nelly decision maker. That was a DOOZY!!!

  • MissManners

    It sounds like Jack Perkins over at Maple and Motor is trying upscale French!

    • Angus Wynne III

      Low blow. Jack and his crew have always been courteous and hospitable–unless you try to jump the line!

  • meatloaf

    I have a feeling there is more to the story than being told. This is the same Courtney that was on Dallas’s Most Eligible right? I can only imagine the other side of the story.

    • Raya-Gabrielle Ramsey

      This isn’t her story. It’s mine, and no detail was spared.

  • meatloaf

    I have a feeling there is more to the story than what is being told. This is the same Courtney that was on Dallas’s Most Eligible, right? Yep, I bet there is more to this.

  • EndicottPR

    Everybody knows I love all things French but when we tried Le Bilboquet for lunch recently, while our food was good, the restaurant’s dining room was sparsely occupied and it took two hours for two people to have one course of salads with sparkling water and espresso and this just doesn’t cut it on a weekday. We did come to like our waiter but when we first arrived it took forever to get anyone to greet our table and there were three waiters/hostess visible but it took more than 15 minutes once we decided to have our orders taken and more than 35 min to get food and bread. When you clearly have 5 to 6 four tops still in your restaurant, you need to cater to those people rather than be on the phone, looking at ceiling and peering out of the kitchen-you need to touch tables and tell them when the food may be coming and routinely check in and ask if everything is okay and if we need anything. On the particular day we were there, it was a who’s who of Dallas society, gallerists, oil barons, famous artists all talking about what European country they were headed to for vacay and they can’t have been pleased with the service either. Hope it improves, it has a nice ambiance. I miss the days of Brasserie Calluaud at McKinney and Knox! Those were the days!

  • MelissaC

    Their husbands?! What year is this?

  • merrimanwines

    Man! This is terrible. I was looking fwd to going there. After reading this, I would not step foot in there.

  • Carol Shih

    I just deleted a comment that trashed an entire culture of people. Keep your comments clean. Thanks.

  • Lindsey

    Same sort of thing happened to a girlfriend of mine and I when we visited! We went on a Wednesday night at 6:30 and the place had MAYBE 5 tables full. We asked to be seated and were told that it would be 30 minutes before they could get us in. When we later asked the bartender why that was, he told us the whole restaurant would be full with guests who made reservations within 15 minutes. We waited an hour and a half and the place still had at least 10 empty tables. Did these “reservations” not show up? Why are you not helping the guests that are actually present and standing in your restaurant? There will ALWAYS be walk-ins….you have to be accommodating and not annoyed with us. Needless to say, we probably won’t be back.

  • Raya-Gabrielle Ramsey

    As an update, owner Stephan Courseau reached out to both Courtney and me via email to apologize and invite us to return and give it another try. A snippet: “I am truly sorry you had such a bad experience and sincerely apologize . This is certainly not what I am trying to vehicle with this restaurant where I would like my staff to enhance the values of hospitality that are important to me . I am not sure of what made them behave so inadequately but this incident has brought an opportunity to work on this aspect of our operation and hopefully we will learn from it .”

  • jwtx

    They definitely mishandled the situation, but next time order by the bottle instead of the by the glass. You will save money.

  • twinwillow

    OK, Nancy. I’ll take that last part of my comment back. I’d be the last person wanting anyone to lose their job. But, we’ll just see how things are going for them a year from now.
    You know, you can take the restaurant out of New York but, you can’t take the New York out of the restaurant.

  • mremanne

    Sounds to me like the bartender was wrapping his shift and was trying to cash out.

  • Mabel Peck

    That happened to us a couple of years ago at La Duni Oak Lawn…never been back.

  • Sherry

    Three rounds and you had ordered a fourth…hmm….Maybe “they” decided that you had had enough and found a “better” way to ask you to leave without a confrontation about the amount of alcohol you were consuming.
    I’m with the restaurant on this one.

  • yvonneandyvettetiquette

    Funny, here’s a similar experience but at least you got in.

  • yvonneandyvettetiquette
  • yvonneandyvettetiquette

    You’re lucky, in a way. At least you got in. We couldn’t get a glass of champagne.

  • Denison

    Yeah, no. That wasn’t my experience, the one time I went there (around the date you posted your comment) and it wasn’t toward closing and they weren’t busy. In fact, it seemed as though the woman behind the counter was trying to be unwelcoming.