Whether you call it Chateau Catastrophe or Chez Catastrophe, Carousel on Front Street in Yakima was a disappointment. Two years ago, we had a wonderful dinner there with our friends, Sam and Carol. At that time it seemed a promising new French restaurant in Yakima. Now that the original French owners have sold it, it has turned into a catastrophe. Since the French word for catastrophe is the same as in English, this should be unambiguous. I see, also, in the online dictionary that catastrophe can also be tanslated as disastre, or cataclysme in French. Although we made a reservation from Seattle two or three weeks in advance, when we arrived it quickly became apparent that they were unprepared for us. They did not have a table for us and the one they scrounged up, was not set. It sloped to the east and our waiter had trouble figuring out which leg to shim with a folded table cloth (no match books anymore!). Now, don't get me wrong, I know how hard it is to work in the front room, but the "service" at Carousel was appallingly bad. No water, no bread for half an hour. Actually no silverware to start with, then no napkins. We received two different menus and two different wine lists and no one seemed to know which one was valid. We ordered a fairly standard bottle of L'Ecole Semilion only to be told that they were out of it. Although the wine list was reasonably interesting and fairly priced, we decided that it was safer to go out to the car and get a bottle of 2001 Terra Blanca Onyx we had purchased that afternoon. I knew this would go well with the duck I planned to order for my main course. The menus were so ambigous, and contradictory, however, that it wasn't clear whether the duck would be prepared with green peppercorn sauce or raspberry sauce, but I was prepared to order either. We finally ordered a bottle of Wineglass Chardonnay which was unoaked, simple, and refreshing and helped us sit out the long siege until some food arrived.
Finally, the first course arrived. The escargots were good enough as were the sauteed mushrooms, but the frogs legs were served with a strange piquant and sour flavoring that was not to our taste. The duck was some sort of overcooked dried out version of what one might expect of rustic French home cooking. It actually tasted like dried out, overcooked rabbit. The rabbit dish, however, was well prepared with a simple light coating and sauce. The shrimp were satisfactory, too, although once again a lapse in service resulted in our salads not being served before the main course and, of course, there was no cheese course to accompany the wine. We were offered free desserts, but this was no compensation for me as I do not eat desserts. We definitely should have listened to the locals who recommended Cafe Melange which was right next door .The saving grace to this meal was the company of our good friends Bob and Kathy. With them, we were able to laugh our way through most of this catastrophic dining experience.