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“Very Good Food, Horrible Service”

Brasserie Le Cardinal
Ranked #9 of 142 Restaurants in Neuchatel
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$20 - US$25
Cuisines: French, Swiss, European
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Child-friendly, Groups, Local cuisine, Bar Scene
Dining options: Dinner, After-hours, Lunch, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
108 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Very Good Food, Horrible Service”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 June 2013

There are some places in the world where one can almost wander blindly into a restaurant and be very pleased with the fare. I have been to several restaurants in Neuchatel at one time or another, and the food has ranged from good to outstanding. So I was quite hopeful when a few friends recommended the Le Cardinal as one of the better establishments in town. As far as the quality of the food went, we were not disappointed.

We were part of a large group, and pretty much everyone commented with great approval on their respective meals. The grilled char was excellent, the entrecote was very good and the pan seared foie gras was even better. One of our number had the carrot soup, which apparently not only tasted outstanding, but came with a wonderfully unique presentation: it was served in a round, glass bowl that resembled a large brandy glass without the stem, and through the glass, we could see a lovely layer of froth on top.

Yes, the food was good, but in a town where there are many good restaurants, I am not sure that I would go back to an establishment with such astonishingly poor service. To start with, all the waiters seemed to have a real flair for turning away any table where they might be signalled by the patrons. I thought it was just our group, but noticed throughout the meal that a few other tables were having similar problems in attracting their server's attention. Had the servers been doing their jobs properly in the first place, such wonton signaling would have been unnecessary. To summarize: we were all seated for about 20 minutes before we managed to get the waiter's attention and ask for water and menus; we were seated at the table for more than 45 minutes before we got the waiter over to take drinks and food orders (and one would think that such a large group might like more than two bottles of water between them); some of the orders were mixed up, and my wife never did get what she asked for despite repeated attempts to explain it to the waiter; when the time came to pay the bill, we got tired of waiting and I went in search of the waiter. All told, dinner took around three and a half hours, which would have been fine if we had been eating and drinking for most of that time. As it was, each person only had an entree; nobody was willing to wait for dessert. Most of the people in our group spoke French, so it was not a matter of miscommunication, either.

It is a pity about the service, given that the food was so good, and not a bad value. Switzerland is expensive, and the prices were quite in line with other restaurants in town. Would I go back to Le Cardinal? I doubt it: there are other fine restaurants in Neuchatel where the staff behave as though they are happy to see you.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank WDTVancouver_Canada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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238 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Jersey, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
349 reviews
202 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 220 helpful votes
“Good food from seasonal menu in beautiful brasserie in town centre”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2013

I live in Neuchatel and this is one of my favourite restaurants that I go back to time and again. The restaurant offers a seasonal menu (English version available) which ensures variety but they also keep their 'signature dishes' like entrecote and steak tartare.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank GCR484
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
42 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Delightful and great food”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 May 2013

An old-fashioned brasserie in the old part of town, not far from the Place de Pury and the Café-Hotel L'Aubier, this restaurant is great. The food is varied and delicious. The wines are great. The service is attentive, but not fawning. There is always quite a crowd, but never totally full. I have never had to book ahead.

Visited April 2013
Thank Kate L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
100 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Good local brasserie - can't go wrong”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 January 2013

A smallish, varied menu which changes with the season, a limited but carefully-chosen and reasonably-priced wine list, a bustling, casual atmosphere and good friendly service add up to make this both a good first-choice and a reliable fall back (but do book first if you want to be sure of a table). The Cardinal serves good food at mealtimes but is also open for a drink or coffee in between and is worth even a quick visit to see the (1930s?) wall tiles and etched glass windows.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank travelbsuisse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
34 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Solid Food”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 December 2012

This restaurant serves solid French style food. In the summer you can sit outside and watch the locals stroll by. Its popular with the locals and business people for lunch and dinner so you can't really go wrong.

Thank EmilieH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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