Deux Gros Nez

So as most know Deux Gros Nez is closing. I have never been a big Deux Gros Nez fan but I figured I should go there before it closes. After all there aren’t many places like it in town. The first of the pictures below was taken at 1am on Monday. There was still music blaring and people going strong.

The Experience:
When I first went to Dex Greus Nes years ago, I was uncomfortable there. It was too different and I just wasn’t ready for it. Also, I went there with people who were raving about it which of course doesnt make a skeptic less skeptical. So this time I went alone, of my own volition, and it did feel more comfortable. I like places that are different and funky and I was finally enjoying it there.

I watched the other patrons laugh and have fun at the counter and then ordered from a funky fast talking girl. While I was waiting for my food I couldn’t help but overhear a very gregarious guy talking to a girl at the next table about why he loved Deux Gros Nez. He talked about how there are other places kinda like it but nowhere else has the feel of Deux Gros Nez (I gotta agree with him there). One of his really interesting opinions was that Deux Gros Nez is the best place to bring a first/blind date because it is a filter. “It’s intimidating and some people just can’t handle it.” He said that people either pass or fail and you know someone isn’t a keeper if they can’t relax at Deux Gros Nez. Now I have some real problems with the pass/fail part of that statement, but for now lets focus on the intimidation that he mentioned. Later, I heard one of the waiters say that he was intimidated by the place when he first came in. After a few times he got used to the people, loved hearing all the new different music, and just came to feel at home. When he said that, I looked back at the counter and saw how great a time the people there were having. They were laughing and talking with a familiarity that you don’t see other places.

The Food:
I ordered a quiche and a quesadilla. The quiche was weird because although the plate was so hot you couldn’t touch it, the quiche itself was refrigerator temperature. This did seem odd to me but being a quiche newbie I ate it anyway. I have since called a friend and found out that yes, as most of you readers already knew, it should be heated. The quesadillas had a cheese that I didn’t recognize and although it was pretty good it wasn’t really what I expected (which I should have expected).

The old standby:
I didn’t really fill up so I got in my car and decided to do a culinary 180. I drove to McDonalds to have a Quarter Pounder and a Coke.

The experience at McDonalds was totally different. Familiar but souless. I went through the drive through. The employees had the normal “I don’t really want to be here” attitude. The smell was strikingly different. Deux Gros Nez smelled crisp, tart, and fruity. Like the food itself tastes when it first hits your tongue. McDs smelled like grease and cleaning solution. Like the foods nasty sweet & meaty aftertaste on the back of your tongue.

The food was what I expected, which is what I went there for. Unfortunately, half way through the drive-thru I remembered that I had seen Fast Food Nation the night before but I still managed to eat most of the burger.

Everything at MickeyDs reminded me of death (or at least decay) and everything at Deux Gros Nez reminded me of life. Deux Gros Nez has some preppy guard. Preppy Guard is what you spray on something to keep the preppies away (Every copy of Master of Puppets was sprayed with preppy guard). Dex Greus Nes was sprayed with preppy guard which is why these people and myself felt intimidated when they first came there. It’s important that some places have a little preppy guard on them. The food may be a little inconsistent and they might be a little slow. But these things that jar you out of what you expect are part of what creates the atmosphere. The need to accept a little, give a little and be willing to look through the preppy guard is what keeps the atmosphere alive in Deux Gros Nez. I probably never would have become a Deux Gros Nez regular. But it always made me happy to see that pink neon when I drove down California Ave. I will be sad when it is dark.

They are open until the 30th and I’m going one more time at least. But since I am not a full fan of the place I cant really capture the spirit here. Anyone else? Please comment and fill the holes I am missing.

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Sunday morning breakfasts at DGN! I’ll miss them. It’s true that the service and food could be a bit spotty at times. But I never felt like I wasn’t “cool” enough to be there, unlike another similar restaurant.

count me in as someone that’s going to miss sunday breakfasts, too. i’ll also miss their scones (anyone know if they made their own, or if not where i can get them? even the recipe would help), and their pie. (what’s the zen piemaster going to do for work now??)

Why are they closing?

I hope their Bicycle race/event continues in some form! I volunteered to help it twice- had fun time!

So Fast Food Nation was that unforgetable? The book is pretty great. Great in the “HOLY CRAP” kind of way.

It’s a cool place, but reminds me of an old 80′s song “so hip it hurts.” That sort of sums up the Nez for me. Glad it was around because it was really different, but some of the patrons and employees were painfully hip. The sort of self aware hipness that lives in a vacuum.

I gotta say, I’ve never been a huge fan of the food (except for the cookie bomb!), but I loved the fact that for about a year, every time I walked in there I heard the Talking Heads. Apparently, there was a staffing change and that stopped happening. But that kind of experience is what made the Deux cool.

And thanks for the outstanding photo essay Zach. Wonderful!

Brett–its a little mysterious. I heard that Tim was tired of dealing with a restaurant and wants to concentrate of the race among other things.

For me the difference between DGN and McD’s is so obvious – culture. We need more of it downtown, and DGN’s owners and staff really kicked it into gear in the early days before Starbucks.

The Deux website now has the ability to leave memories as kind of a running guestbook. Also, check out the nice letter from Tim.

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