Everything goes well at Tout Va Bien

During my family’s Chrifsmas vacation to New York City, we ate dinner at a delightful little French restaurant called Tout Va Bien, located at 311 W 51st St. in Manhattan. Now normally I wouldn’t do restaurant reviews, because I find them tedious, but this place was truly unique. To save you some of my usual aggravation over restaurant reviews, I’m not going to cover the food other than to say it was good. There. Now do you think this is a typical restaurant review?

The great thing about Tout Va Bien was its atmosphere. All of the staff were actually French, and spoke good English with a French accent. They all seemed to be drinking on the job, which would normally be frowned upon here in the States, but eh, they’re French. I saw our waiter drinking wine, beer, shots — definitely more than any of us had. Oh, and our waiter looked just like a grown-up Harry Potter, complete with the rimmed glasses. Awesome.

We spent four hours in the restaurant. We came in at around 8:00pm, the end of the dinner rush, so they didn’t have any pressing need to vacate our table. And they really seemed to want us to stay, because after we had finished our appetizers, soup, main courses, desserts, and dessert liquors, the waiter brought around a huge gallon bowl of sangria with chunks of fruit floating in it. Just like the extra creme brulĂ©e they had brought for dessert for my cousin who’s allergic to nuts and so couldn’t eat the Christmas Log, we hadn’t asked for this, and it would be on the house. But it was more than enough to get all of us drunk. I had eyed him making it earlier, wondering what in the hell it was for, and spied him pouring in some vodka. Throughout the night, people of all ages filtered in and sat along the bar, most of them speaking French.

So we ladled the spiked sangria into our wine glasses and started drinking. At this point I’m wondering why he brought it to us — certainly he was cannibalizing his own restaurant’s alcohol sales. But the simplest reason seems the most apt: he was drunk and having a good time, and he simply wished the same for us. It also helped his tip a bit. After about an hour with the sangria, he came back giving us one last chance to refill our glasses before he took the “evil concoction” away. Then, he topped it back up with more wine and vodka and placed it on the table of the group next to us, who’d been there just as long as we had, and they got to work on it. I’m sure this must’ve violated some food service regulations.

So yeah, it was a great time. It was a nice, long, fun, leisurely dinner in a restaurant with a nice atmosphere, hysterical and generous waiters, and good food. I would definitely go back again. The restaurant lived up to its name, which, translated into English, means “Everything Goes Well.” And it did.

5 Responses to “Everything goes well at Tout Va Bien”

  1. William Says:

    I’ve asked this question to a number of people, and I swear I’m going to have to start taking notes on their responses, but I’d like to pose it to you, as well:

    Why do you drink alcohol?

    That’s the simple bit. I’d like to make it clear that I am not against the consumption of alcohol. I think drunk people are funny, at least until they’ve had (sometimes *cough* nausingatingly) too much. I don’t consume alcohol, as I have a family history of alcoholism and want nothing to do with that, but other people drinking doesn’t bother me. Please also keep in mind that I recognize that not everyone who consumes alcohol does so with the goal of getting sloshed.
    So is it the taste? The feel of it as you’re drinking it? Is it social, just to fit in? Is it to relax? Something else?

  2. Grokmoo Says:

    While I can’t really speak for anyone else, I think it is a combination of many of the things that you mention. Certainly there are many people out there who enjoy beer, wine, and even liquor exclusively for the taste, and rarely if ever get drunk. It is also true that alcohol in moderate amounts can lower your social inhibitions, and at the same time make it easier to talk to new people.

    However, especially for young people (and most especially for people in College), I think the goal often is to get “sloshed” as you so eloquently put it. At least at my school, the University of Maryland, a large percentage of people got drunk several times a week. I was one of them for several years. For most people, this is fine, and from what I understand, does not generally cause substantial long term health problems, as the drinking tends to slow down considerably upon graduation. I know it did for me. As for undesirable academic effects, it is quite possible to live this lifestyle and still maintain a high GPA in any major.

    A certain segment of our society has rather unrealistic expectations about consumption of alcohol. I saw this first hand when I was busted for possession of drug paraphernalia and was forced to attend several educational courses on drugs & alcohol. For example, in a preliminary survey, there was a section of questions that were basically of a political or ethical nature, and then another section that was simply personal questions about how much you drank and used drugs. The point of this apparently was to correlate the political section with the personal one – basically to presume you were lying if your political views were too far left, yet you claimed only limited drug / alcohol use.

    What was most funny to me about the whole thing were the ideas about what constitutes “drunk”. While it varies substantially just based on how much I have eaten and probably a variety of other factors, 6 drinks consumed over a reasonable timespan of a couple hours is generally enough to have me at the “slightly buzzed” stage. Yet, consumption of 5 drinks or more a night was characterized as “binge drinking”. This is not just me, as I know plenty of other people with similar or higher tolerances.

    Finally, there was a general attitude that drinking to get drunk was somehow immoral or wrong. I firmly reject this idea, which seems rather Puritan to me. Just because something feels good does not make it evil. It is true that lives have been destroyed by alcohol. It is also true that there are many people who drink to get drunk on a regular basis and never suffer any substantial ills because of it.

    Anyway, this response seems to have rambled a bit, but I think I have answered your original question.

  3. William Says:

    Thanks for your response. It’s considerably more in depth and well-thought-out than I was expecting, and I appreciate the time.
    Still curious to see Cyde’s response, though.

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    William: I asked Grokmoo to handle this question because I felt he was better able to answer the question than I am. His answer speaks for me. But just to give you my own short answer: alcohol, like many other drugs, takes what is a fun experience, such as hanging out with friends, and makes it better. Of course, there are some people who abuse alcohol (like those who are depressed and drink away their sorrows), but I can’t really speak for that.

  5. William Says:

    Fair enough. His was a very good answer, after all.
    Thanks for your responses.