Friday, August 28, 2015

Flavor Intensity

We were frequently complimented on the flavor intensity of our food., and I’m surprised I have yet to write about this.  As I looked over the blog and my posts-in-progress, I realized that I had begun to write about it, in a post to be called Intelligent Cooking.  But every time summer rolls around, the subject comes to minds again.

“Intelligent cooking” includes looking at a recipe with an eye to coaxing the most flavor from whatever project it is you’re working on.  You’d be surprised how many recipes just throw away flavor along the way to the finished project.

Here’s one example...

Reading cookbooks is one of my favorite pastimes and, occasionally, I’ll adapt a recipe for my own use.  I came across a recipe years ago by a fairly well known chef, which I adapted for a game dish.  It called for soaking dried currants in water, and then discarding the water.  One of the other ingredients in the sauce was cassis, the blackcurrant liqueur from France.  Why, I thought, would you soak the blackcurrants in water, and then throw the water away with whatever flavor it had picked up from the fruit?  Why not soak them in the cassis, and maintain all the flavor?  Simple things like this can make a very perceptible difference in the final product.

A second example is the reason I think of this issue every summer.  We used to do a very simple, very fresh pasta dish every summer.  It called for blanching, peeling, seeding and dicing the most beautiful tomatoes we could find.  Then we sauteed some diced onions, and added the diced tomatoes to warm them through.  Finally, we added some basil chiffonade.  Just before serving, we’d stir in some fresh goat cheese.  The dish would be garnished with additional basil.  It would have been wonderful if that’s all we had done, but we pushed the flavors to incredible by peeling and seeding the tomatoes over a colander to catch the juice.  Then, the juice from dicing the tomatoes was also added.  This relatively thin juice went into a small saucepan, and was slowly reduced to a syrup, which was added to the pasta sauce.  What a difference!  I recall telling a fellow chef for whom I have a lot of respect that this is what we did, and he was shocked--”You do that?  Are you crazy?”  Well, it’s relatively simple, and it makes a huge difference.

So, I would encourage you to look at recipes with a critical eye, and practice intelligent cooking.  It’s one way to vastly improve your cooking.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Request for Mint Jelly...

One of the most fun aspects of the Rendezvous was writing the menu.  In culinary school, you’re taught menu-writing...which entails, basically, stating what the dish is, how it’s cooked and how it’s sauced.  Popular over the past few years has been a minimalist approach, sometimes not even revealing the method of cooking.  “Hangar steak.  Green peppercorns.  Brandy.”  Perhaps it’s a reflection of today’s world, where we crave instant information.  Is the dining experience going to reflect the menu?  We went to the other extreme, sometimes telling short stories about each choice.  Our menu began with “We hope you enjoy a leisurely meal...”  The menu was designed to engage the guest, get them to slow their pace of life a bit, and relax.

It was fun for me to be walking through the dining room and hear one guest reading parts of the menu to their dining partner...”Honey, listen to this--it says...”  Not every dish had a story, of course, and some were too long to tell.  One of those was a story about frogs legs.  I was dining solo one night at a restaurant in France, thoroughly enjoying some frogs legs.  The waitress came by and asked me how I liked them and I told her they were wonderful.  “But in Frrrrahnce, we eat them with our fingers,” she politely told me.  It was her way of correcting my faux pas, and making my life a lot easier.

One of my favorite stories was about the sauce we made for the rack of lamb.  It told how complex the flavors were, and that it took four days to make.  It ended with “A request for mint jelly will summon the executioner from the kitchen.”  To back that up, I kept a machete in my office.  As a prop, obviously.  Every now and then it got pulled out.  Sad to say things have changed so quickly over the past few years, I probably wouldn’t dare bring it out now.  But it did get a lot of laughs.

We had a local couple come in for dinner one evening, and they were seated at a window table.  The windowsill was about six inches below the tabletop.  I strolled by the table, and happened to notice a jar of mint jelly sitting on the windowsill.  Busted!!!  They had brought their own.  Another time, a local asked me for mint jelly.  I said “Okay, George. I’ll run to Safeway and get some.  I’ll be back in five or ten minutes.”  Later when I passed his table, he said “I thought you were going to get me some mint jelly.”  He seriously thought I was serious.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Of all the restaurant guides, I hold Michelin in the highest esteem.  They are as close to a no-nonsense, unbiased guide as you could ask for.  When I was working at John Clancy’s in New York’s Greenwich Village, it was pre Le Bernardin, and Clancy’s was considered the best seafood restaurant in the city.  The New York Times and Zagat lent credence to that.  There was no Michelin coverage of the U.S. at that time.  The Times, covering fully only one or two restaurants a week, was relatively sporadic in reviews of any given restaurant.  Zagat was annual.  For some reason--perhaps my being a newbie on the New York restaurant scene--working in the kitchen of a restaurant that was highly rated by Zagat was a thrill.

So perhaps you can imagine how I felt the day the phone rang at the Rendezvous when Zagat was calling to do some “fact checking.”  I knew we were going to be in the guide.  We were to be in the San Francisco/Bay Area/Wine Country edition.  They never give out the scores ahead of time, so it was hurry up and wait for the guide to be published.  This was exciting.  Zagat’s reach had never extended this far north.  It had never gone beyond Napa and Sonoma.  We did well...a 24, I think, for food, which is not at all shabby.  We improved from there.  One year we were knocked back down from a 26 to 24, and that was a major disappointment.  Most years we were in the 26 to 28 range (out of a possible 30).

The first few years we were in the guide, I had a sense of when it would be published, but never really knew the exact date.  Over time, that changed.  Each year I’d be on tenterhooks awaiting the new ratings.  Zagat is different now, as I’ll explain in a bit.  Back then, each point-tick up in the ratings was roughly logarithmically more difficult to achieve.  To have a 26 or 27 for food was most, most excellent.  One year, on the morning I knew the ratings were going to be released, I was online checking every 15 minutes or so.  We had been a 27 the previous year.  I was hoping we’d hold that, but wouldn’t be totally disappointed with a 26.  26 was still excellent.  When I saw a 28 pop up, I was literally shaking.  That must be how actors feel when they win an Oscar.  I was in complete shock.

As far as Zagat was concerned, that put us in the top five restaurants in the Bay Area and Wine Country.  There were two restaurants at 29--Gary Danko in the city and the French Laundry in Yountville.  They were a point better than we were, and there were two others at 28.  That was pretty amazing.  I know that for several years a lot of our guests had been comparing our food most closely to the French Laundry, and our Zagat review that year alluded to the fact that we served food at “laundromat prices.”  But, the problem was, expectations would now be huge and, in my heart, while I was thrilled at the 28, I knew we really weren’t at that level.  It was a tough year for my anxiety level, and I actually welcomed the next year’s guide with what was to have been another 27 rating.

The Zagat guide was pretty fair, but relied on reviews from diners.  The Zagat staff would comb through all the write-ups to come up with common themes, and include quotes from participants in compiling the written reviews.  Each participant had to give point scores for food, service and décor, which were averaged.  Our strong point was the food, but it’s rare that it’s otherwise for any restaurant.  If you’ve been to the Rendezvous, you know that the décor was on the rustic side--Craftsman-style house, redwood paneled dining room.  Down home, but short of elegant.  Our service was always very good.  Given our three ratings, we were always rated as a restaurant of excellence by Zagat.  The problem with Zagat, though, was that some restaurants would try to get their patrons to “stuff the ballot box.”  That we never did, which made our high scores even more satisfying.  We always encouraged people to participate, but also to be honest.  Sadly, a lot of restaurants have gimmicks to try to up their scores...write a good review and be entered into a drawing for dinner for two...

Zagat was well known by food geeks.  I use that term because I loathe the term “foodie,” for reasons I might explain in the future.  Sometime after we closed the Rendezvous, Google bought Zagat, bringing it more to the masses and, I believe, making it a far less reliable source.  I haven’t investigated that thought thoroughly, to be honest, but just having glanced at some of the scores that local restaurants have received, that’s the way it seems.

Michelin now has extended its reach, and that’s a good thing.  I don’t think they cover Mendocino County yet, but they are in Napa and Sonoma.  Having lived in France and dined in many one-, two-, and three-star restaurants there, and given our consistently high ratings in Zagat, I was (and still am) convinced that we would have been rated two stars by Michelin.  But Zagat was fun.  It was always nice to be the “highest rated restaurant in Mendocino County.”  We had a really good team.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hiring from the Labor Puddle

It was tough finding good help for a restaurant of our caliber in Fort Bragg.  And I don’t mean for that to sound snooty.  First of all, I always try to have high standards so, even if we were slinging hash, I wouldn’t have hired the vast majority of people that applied.  If someone’s going to fill out an application for employment and be sloppy, and make grammatical and spelling errors, I figure they’re not going to make much of an effort at a job, either.

At one point, I coined the term “labor puddle” to describe the availability of help.  It wasn’t a pool at all.  It was a puddle.  Not too broad and not too deep.  It’s funny, because I used the term with a fellow chef on the coast, who later used the term with a reporter, and I ended up reading it in the paper.

Beyond the ability to fill out an application, the skill level for fine dining in a town like Fort Bragg, where fine dining for the most part doesn’t exist, is pretty much itself non-existent.  Few people have had the exposure to either the type of cuisine involved--and thus lacked both the palate and the vocabulary--or the style of service.

Beginning with the application...  If you answered the question “Where did you hear about us?” by saying “an add in the paper,” you had little chance of getting an interview.  That was all too common a mistake.  I remember one person who was already waiting tables at a restaurant, and she misspelled the name of the restaurant at which she was working.  And if you didn’t fill out the application completely, it just showed us a penchant for laziness.

Even with those whom we invited for interviews, we ended up wasting a lot of time in the interview process.  Often after the first few minutes, we’d realize the candidate wasn’t for us, but we’d be polite and finish the whole interview.  Finally, we got smart.  We devised a waitstaff questionnaire.  Five pages of brain-picking concerning, food, wine and service.  It was fun devising it.  It was fun (for the most part) reading them.  Best, 90% of the people who picked up an application and a questionnaire never returned.  Ultimately, we got much better candidates to interview, and wasted far less time.  Too, it gave applicants a taste of what we were all about.

Somewhere, in the deep, dark recesses of a storage unit, are all the questionnaires we ever got back.  I wish I had quick access to them now.  From memory, though, here are some of the better answers, though not verbatim.  Question:  A person drops their napkin.  What do you do?  Answer:  Kick it to the side.  Or, pick it up and hand it back to them.  Question:  The restaurant’s closed, and there’s one table lingering.  What do you do?  Answer:  I tell them we’re closed, and suggest a place they can go that’s open later.

One of our more complicated questions was this:  A four top comes in for dinner--an older and a younger woman, and an older and younger man.  The older woman is hosting the dinner.  In what order do you serve them?

Many people did well on the questionnaire, and that’s nice.  Others rose to the occasion and researched a lot of the answers, because they didn’t know.  And that was really cool, and very much appreciated.  You were asked to draw a table setting, showing the placement of silverware and glassware.  One applicant found a photo of a vase of flowers in a magazine and carefully cut that out and pasted it on as part of the table setting.

The questionnaire backfired only once (that we are aware of), when we had an applicant feel it was beneath him to have to fill it out.  And it was, but he did.  He was one of the best waiters we ever had.  He had worked in San Francisco.  He was polite and amiable.  He could make the guest experience a superb one.  He could up sell in a very polite and knowledgeable way.  His name was  Abdellatif.  We nicknamed him the “Rockin’ Moroccan.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


When we started the Rendezvous, if there was a forte I was lacking, it was soup-making.  I’m not necessarily saying I was particularly good at anything, though I guess there would be some that would say I was.  But I certainly didn’t feel adequate at making soups.  So, I put a lot of effort into that area, to the point where I recall customers having told me a  I could make soup from a rock.

One of the keys to the success of our soups were the bases we used.  Most soups began with chicken stock.  Some used crab, lobster or fish fumet.  Occasionally, we’d use veal stock.  All of the stocks and fumets were made in-house.

I’ll be the first to admit our chicken stock was incredible.  We’d order a case of chicken carcasses for the sole purpose of making stock.  We’d spread the carcasses on sheet pans and roast them till they were golden brown.  We’d do the same with the vegetable mirepoix--carrots and onions--that would go into the stock.  Celery and leeks wouldn’t get roasted.  Other additions to the mix were bay leaves (we had our own European bay bush on the property), garlic, black peppercorns, fresh thyme and parsley.  Of course, we’d deglaze the roasting pans from the chicken and veggies so that no flavor would be lost.

Everything would be dumped into our huge stock pot, which would be filled with water and put on the stove over a very low flame right before leaving for the night--so, usually, around 10 or 11 o’clock.  The stock would simmer.  And simmer.  And simmer.  It would go till at least 4 o’clock the next afternoon, when we’d pull it off the stove.  We’d let it cool a bit before straining it, then passing it through a chinois, and carefully degreasing it.

I’ve gotta tell you, I had an obsession with getting the flame adjusted properly under the stockpot before leaving at night.  When I was a kid, there was a house several blocks from where I lived that blew up because of a gas leak.  On a commercial stove, the lowest flame was enough to keep the stock simmering.  If you turned the flame down too low, it would eventually begin to flicker, and then go out.  But that might take a minute or two.  And that meant the gas was still on.  So I’d adjust and watch, adjust and watch.  The obsession was fueled (if you’ll pardon the pun) by the fact that there were guest rooms for our bed & breakfast upstairs.  When I was pretty certain I had the flame just right, I’d head for the back door, turning the kitchen light out and often pausing to stare at the flame a little more.  I can only imagine if I had had obsessive compulsive disorder!

The result was a fairly dark, heady stock, with tons of flavor.  If you were to taste one of our soups next to the same recipe executed with the best store-bought stock, well, you might be impressed at the difference.  I find it really difficult to bring myself to use store-bought stock.  Ever.  To this day, I will still make stock in small batches and, when finished, reduce it by half (to save space) and then freeze it.

Our crab and lobster tasting menus almost always had a bisque as one of the courses.  For crab, I’d run down to the harbor--a couple of miles away--early in the morning and pick up a garbage bag full of fresh crab shells, take them back to the kitchen and begin crushing them right away to get going on crab fumet.  I found that crab shells had to be incredibly fresh and needed to be used right away, or they would begin to become ammoniated--something that would pervade the fumet and couldn’t be eliminated.  When we were doing our lobster menu, we’d get the live lobsters in and poach them lightly, removing the meat from the shells, and then immediately use the shells to make a fumet.

Our fumet recipes called for crushed crab or lobster shells, and chicken stock.  We then took it a step further on the subsequent batches, substituting fumet for the chicken stock so that with each successive batch, the crab or lobster flavor became a bit more intense.  And that’s probably why a noted cookbook author and food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle said our crab bisque was the best she had ever had.

From the fresh halibut we got in would come a white fish fumet, and from salmon, a salmon fumet.  Cases of veal bones were utilized in the same fashion as chicken to make veal stock.  It’s all about flavor at every stage of the process.  You have to start with the best ingredients.  There are a lot of restaurants which use commercial bases--chicken, veal, lobster, etc.  I’m not sure which is worse--store bought chicken broth or a commercial chicken base.  All I know is that there’s no way you’re going to get an extraordinary finished product by starting with an inferior product.  I won’t disagree that working from scratch is expensive.  It is.  But using a base is, in my opinion, both cheap and lazy.

We were frequently complimented for the amazing flavors of our food, and our food was often compared to the French Laundry, probably more than any other restaurant.  I take that as a huge compliment.  I like Thomas Keller’s cookbooks.  We seem to think along the same lines in many ways.  If there was one thing that struck me as odd, though, it was his requirement that all stocks, when they were transferred from container to container, had to be passed through a chinois.  We passed stocks once.  It’s good to get a lot of the particulate “garbage” out of the liquid.  But what’s left in the chinois also represents flavor that’s being taken out.  And I think there’s a limit to how much you want to take out.  It’s like filtering a wine.  Many people feel that filtering a wine at all strips it of flavor, and I believe that to be true.  Unless, of course, you’re making a consommé or gelée.  In which case you’re using egg whites  to get the suspended protein matter out of the liquid to get it as clear as possible, which is similar to the “fining” technique used in winemaking.

So, what were some of our better soups?  Hard to say and, like everything else, it depends on your taste.  Our made-to-order cream of asparagus was pretty good.  A lot of folks liked our cream of hedgehog soup in the fall.  I remember a young couple one evening--the guy ordered it.  His girlfriend looked on as he consumed it..  Somehow, it didn’t look like an animal-based soup at all.  I had to tell them hedgehogs are a local wild mushroom.  Brave soul, for not having known!  We did a smoked corn chowder with chipotle sauce in the summertime that was a favorite of many.  It was pretty amazing--the sweet and the hot, and the smoky-red sauce against the bright yellow.  It was incredibly labor intensive though, and burned out an awful lot of blenders.  Oh.  Roasted garlic soup.  Do you like garlic?  This was heaven.  I still make it from time to time.  At the end of Thanksgiving dinner, we’d pick all the meat off the turkey carcasses and make stock from the carcasses.  Then we made a curried turkey chowder.  Thanksgiving leftovers don’t get much better.  Finally, I always wanted to do a really good French onion soup.  But I didn’t want it to be a “normal” French onion soup.  I wanted something other than that delicious (when properly done) crouton with gratinéed cheese on top.  So, we ended up baking small loaves of rye bread.  We sliced the bread and made a grilled cave-aged Gruyère cheese sandwich which we cut on the diagonal and placed criss-crossed on top of the soup.  It was a different take, and pretty delicious.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Outstanding Mendocino County Wines

I was driving around Sonoma County’s Russian River wine country the other day.  I do a lot of driving, and I enjoy the “down time.”  It’s good thinking time.  Being in the heart of one of the premier wine growing regions of the world, my mind wandered to some of the great wines I had had during the period we had the Rendezvous.  There were three or four that came to mind, one of which we were fortunate to have had on our wine last.

One of the coolest things, for anyone interested in food and wine, is to discover a “great” wine.  Another is finding an ethereal food and wine pairing.  Sure, there are great wines all over he world, but it’s truly exciting to find them in your own backyard.  It’s a bit of validation for why we live where we do.

So, here are the wines that really impressed me.

I’ll start with the “least”--a red wine blend based on syrah.  While the wine was phenomenal, the winemaker was the one who left a bad taste in my mouth, so I’m not going to give complete details.  He was a producer out of Redwood Valley, and we had one of his wines on our list for a while.  It turned out that his wife and I graduated from the same tiny high school back east.  The “bad taste” stemmed from the fact that I actually sold his wines wholesale for him, and he left me hanging for several hundred dollars in commissions.  Nice job for someone who was also an attorney.

He was pouring his wines at Winesong--a local event which supports the Mendocino Coast District Hospital--our diminutive equivalent of the Napa Valley Wine Auction.  At the end of the tasting, he handed me an open bottle of his syrah-based wine.  This was on a Saturday afternoon.  It ended up on our staff dinner table, where it sat till the following Saturday.  There was no doubt in my mind this wine was going to be awful--long over the hill.  I don’t even remember what staff meal was that night.  I just remember the wine blew my mind.  I’m sure a large part of it was my low expectations, but--no--it was good!  My impression is that it was the best burger wine one could imagine, which leads me to believe that that may be what we had for dinner.  Or possibly what we used to call “staff steak tidbits.”  In any event, the wine made a lasting impression on me.  And we’re talking a wine that probably retailed around ten dollars a bottle.

The second wine--and these aren’t in any particular order--was a riesling that hailed from Potter Valley.  Apparently the distributor had some cases that got lost in his warehouse, and ended up aging there.  Gabrielli was the winery.  They are no longer around and, by the time the wine made it on our list, the 15 acres of riesling vines had already been pulled out also, in favor of a more profitable grape variety.  This was very much more of an Old World riesling than it was New World.  It was mind-blowing.  Dry, with amazing fruit, minerality, and petrol.  For something from Mendocino, it was an OMG wine.  We had a friend from the “Old World,” a winemaker from the Russian River Valley who used to come and visit to dine with us.  He was very familiar with the great rieslings of France and Germany.  He called the wine a “gem.”  He was blown away.  It was a wine we were incredibly thrilled to have on out list.  It was a wine we wanted people to experience, but were very sad when the last bottle sold.

Quite some time before we had the Rendezvous, we were fortunate to be on the mailing list for Williams & Selyem.  For those of you who don’t know, they have been--and still are--the producer of arguably some of the world’s finest pinot noirs.  I’m guessing that it was to W&S that my mind was wandering while driving the Russian River Valley the other day, which led me to thinking about these great Mendocino County wines.  We had quite a few of Williams-Selyem’s single vineyard wines in our personal cellar, some of which we began to offer at the Rendezvous.  Of course, as soon as we opened the Rendezvous, they put our restaurant on their list, too.  What blew my mind was that here we had one of the top producers of pinot noir in the world--”garagistes” before the word even existed--and when we ordered wine, Ed Selyem would throw it in his pickup at the winery, make the two hour drive to our restaurant, throw it on his shoulder, and pack it in through the back door to the kitchen.  It was such a personal thing.

Anyway, I remember Bert Williams having said one time that he thought their wines began to peak about six or seven years out from the vintage.  In fact, my experience was that when I was opening an older wine of theirs, there would often be an off-putting volatility giving an impression that was somewhat vinegary.  But, if you poured the wine into a good glass and let it sit for a half hour or so, all that blew off and a gorgeous wine would be ready to drink.

One night a couple of acquaintances came in for dinner--Steve and Jodie.  Jodie I had known for years.  She had worked in the tasting room of Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley.  Her husband I didn’t know as well, but knew he did vineyard management in the Valley.  In tow, they had a magnum of Williams-Selyem Ferrington Vineyard pinot noir.  Now, some people consider Ferrington one of the “grand cru” vineyards of Anderson Valley.  I don’t recall the vintage, but I’m pretty sure it had at least seven year’s bottle age.  They were a party of four or six.  Steve told me that he had opened a bottle the previous week at home, and that it wasn’t good.  They didn’t drink it.  He was hoping this one was better.  I told him my experience with Williams-Selyem’s older wines.  We opened the wine and poured it.  He deemed it undrinkable, similar to the last bottle.  So he ordered some wine off our list.

Well, he left the open bottle of the Ferrington Vineyard pinot, which I took home.  Several days later, we drank it.  It was absolutely mind-blowing.  Silky.  Velvety.  Amazing fruit.  Honestly, I’m not one who has ever been able to afford anything like a properly cellared and aged Domaine de la Romanée Conti, or any such phenomenal Burgundy.  But it’s hard to imagine topping this wine.  Thank you Steve!  And thank you Bert and Ed.

Actually, I used to run into Jodie and Steve very occasionally in Harvest Market in town.  It was quite some time after they came in for dinner, but I did get to thank him in person, and to admonish him to decant his next bottle, and give it some time to open up.

I’m thinking there may have been a fourth wine, but it escapes me now.  It’ll probably come back to me on one of my next road trips.  How nice it is to know that Mendocino County can produce such incredibly amazing wines.  And what a treat to find them.  Now...I wonder how many I have missed.  Probably quite a few, especially now that so many more Anderson Valley pinot noirs are entering the “world class” category.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I’ve been living in Sonoma County for a fair amount of time.  I still consider myself a Fort Bragger, though.  It’s where my friends are.  I like the down-home feel.  I prefer the cooler summers.  I have clients in Fort Bragg, so I’m fortunate to be able to make it back “home” once a week or so.  Not a single day goes by on the coast without someone asking me about doing another restaurant.  Cooking is my passion, and I feel it’s a gift I’ve been given.  Selling wine, not so much, to be completely honest.

I have plans, and I’ve had my eye on a couple of in Fort Bragg and another close by.  But, sad to say, if you haven’t been there recently, the economy hasn’t shown much improvement since the debacle of ‘08.  Bank of America’s closing up shop, the hospital’s bankrupt, and the College of the Redwoods’ local campus couldn’t make it.  Mendocino College out of Ukiah is offering classes there to keep the property open.  The good news?  I’m hearing the restaurant business on the coast is picking up.  Bottom line?  I really don’t want to go for another restaurant in a poor economic climate.  It’s a tough enough business to make it work when things are humming along.

In the meantime, I’m doing a bit of catering, and I continue to try to support some of the fundraisers that the Rendezvous always tried to help out, particularly the Wine & Crab Festival for the Mendocino Coast Clinics and Winesong, benefiting the Mendocino Coast District Hospital.  Winesong ‘14 will be my 23rd.  I participate under what I think will be the name of my next endeavor--KBistro.  I’m envisioning Rendezvous-style food (i.e. Country-French), in, obviously, more of a bistro-style setting.  Lunch and dinner.  I’d like to draw a lot from my experiences having lived in France.  Perhaps a complimentary kir when you’re seated.  Good, inexpensive house wines served in pitchers.  Nothing fancy, but striving for the excellence we sought at the Rendezvous.  Proper cooking, proper seasoning, amazing flavors.  Relaxed, but superb, French-style service.

We’ll keep you posted.