Q: What is it? A: It is called Rupil and it’s a bad, bad restaurant. In fact it is a mindboggingly bad restaurant, located in Tain, where some of the finest wines in the northern hemisphere are produced.
First evening: You know when you’re lucky.
You are now in my shoes. That means that you’re in France to spend a weekend in Lyon, world capital of gourmet cuisine. On the first evening you experience a high-calorie, nine-course food marathon that takes you through an amazing Menu Surprise et Inspiration, which is topped by a monster rolling cart that has been stacked chest-high with superb cheese. In two days you will visit Paul Bocuse’s restaurant Paul Bocuse. You’re happy. This is food heaven. Vive Lyon, goddammit!
The next day: You know when you’re running out of luck.
The next day you drive 89 km to the south. Located around the little town of Tain l’Hermitage are some of the best wine producers in the world. But before entering the cave of M. Chapoutier, your stomach is talking to you in a loud and clear voice: You need lunch! Did you see the charming little French restaurant on the corner? Over there, it’s called the Rupil, let’s go!
You are in a good mood. You order. This is where things start to go wrong. Bad news. You are now seated in the culinary equivalent of Romania before the Chauchescu regime fell.
How bad can it be? Here’s the meal:
– Appetizer: The Spécialités de Charcuterie Lyonnaise. Apart from buying the stuff at the Intermarché, then taking the sausages and the smoked ham out of the plastic, the restaurant added nothing of value to this course. No, they didn’t even bother to slice up the ingredients.
– Main course (pictured above): A picture is worth a thousand words. There’s nothing to say. It’s supposed to be a sausage… thing. It tasted just as the sausage… thing looks. And if your waiter wants to explain what it is, you’d better turn down the offer. Have a living octopus instead. Or fermented herring. Anything else will do.
– Dessert: Ice-cream. Can you go wrong with ice-cream? At the Rupil, you sure can! Do they have frequent brown-outs in France? This must have been frozen and defrosted a dozen times. You look at the plate and you realize that this is the first time you’re being served ice-cream with cancer.
Additional fun meal facts:
My good friend Emil ordered the bœuf bourginion. Normally, that is prepared one day ahead of serving, as the meat should simmer gently for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. So what about serving the same meat but without the simmering? Instead of the bœuf bourginion, Emil had some double yellow squash balls with brown sauce. A pity he didn’t bring a racket.
A short restroom story:
In the Rupil’s case, this restroom is featuring a nice little extra: A table with a plastic table-cloth. On the table you will find a stack of board games. Anyone for Monopoly? No? Hidden under the plastic table-cloth, there’s a pile of shoes. Yes, shoes. Running shoes, loafers, sandals… This is not the time to ask questions. In fact, you do not want to know. So you leave.
Le Grand Finale:
Strategically positioned behind a huge desk between the restrooms and the exit, sits Madame. In front of her is an electronic calculator the size of a family pizza. Madame’s job is to make sure you pay for the meal. As you are not a thief, you pay. But at the Rupil you sure as hell don’t tip.
2 Rue Joseph Péala
26600 Tain L’Hermitage
Phone +33 (4) 75083297.
You have been warned. Now you know what to avoid. This is no joke. Avoid it at all cost.