TN: French food for Betsy's birthday, with '98 St Emilion and '86 Sauternes
Monday was Betsy's birthday. After trying to decide on restaurant I
told her to please limit her birthdays to other days of the week from
now on, most of the places I wanted to take her were closed. I settled
on La Panetiere in Rye based on some recommendations. Pretty dining
room in an old Victorian. Service was attentive (formal without being
stiff), and food was quite good.
As we sat they brought some cheesesticks and an assortment of nice
fresh bread, followed by an amuse of black olive "ravioli" (actually
crispy, at first I thought pastry but realized it actually WAS pasta
baked till it was hard), served with a tomato coulis. All tasty.
For starter, Betsy had the foie gras. One slice of cold and a small
warm "crème brulée" with chutney. We got her a glass of the 1986 Ch.
D'Arche (Sauternes). Rather straightforward sticky, not long on
complexity. Lighter style, easy if not exciting. B
I had the duck terrine with pistachios and truffles, accompanied by a
relish and cornichons. Both dishes were quite good.
I felt wine list was quite reasonable for upper-end French. Burgundy
section was heavy on negociants, but the negociants were ones I like
such as Drouhin Some older bottles, some (Beaunes from Jadot for
instance) quite reasonably priced. The Bordeaux list was much longer,
with many many mature bottles, and prices seemed mostly good to me.
Older or more expensive bottles were most 1.5x to 2.0x retail, less
expensive stuff averaged 2.5x by my calculations. I got the
1998 Grand Corbin Despagne (St Emilion). Nice modern St. Emilion, the
ripe blackberry and black plum fruit framed but not overwhelmed by some
cinnamon toast and vanilla accents. Gets a little chocolately through
the night, tannins are integrating nicely. This is the best showing of
this wine I've seen, though I might have been influenced by the
Betsy had a sirloin, with Brussels sprouts leaves and pasta with a
cheese crust. I had pheasant with a port sauce, a croquette of
celeriac, and sweet potato gnocchi w/mushrooms. All were quite tasty.
Betsy had a dessert, grapes and Asian pear stewed in a wine/saffron
sauce baked under a pastry lid, accompanied by grape granite. I had a
huge cheese plate that included Mimolette, Humboldt Fog, a chevre, and
two sheep cheeses. Betsy felt dessert was delicious, but superfluous
when the tower of petit fours arrived.
Nice place, we'll be back.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent
wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't
drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no
promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.