Cigar Aficionado

An Old Favorite

I dined at an old favorite restaurant last night with my wife and daughter, on the occasion of our 27th wedding anniversary. The place? Chanterelle. The beautiful Tribeca eatery has been a fixture of the New York dining scene since 1979, and today, still carries a three-star award from The New York Times. Karen and David Waltuck run the restaurant, she in the dining room, and he over the stoves.

In this day and age of loud, trendy restaurants, Chanterelle is an island of serenity and tradition in lower Manhattan. Just like almost any evening of the last 25 years or so, you can start with the seafood sausage, a decadent little tube of succulent shellfish and other ocean goodies in a butter-infused sauce. I had actually threatened to ask if I could have, as my main course, the truffle-scented melted cheese sandwich that had arrived at the table as a wonderful little amuse-bouche.

My wife had a Niman Ranch pork loin. My daughter ordered one of her favorites, day boat scallops with caramelized endive. I had elk from Saskatchewan served on a bed of porcini. I could go on and on about each dish (yes, we do taste each other’s entrees in our family), but I’d rather recommend that you go and try them for yourselves.

One of the best parts of the evening was my chat with Roger Dagorn, the restaurant’s outstanding sommelier. I ordered a 2005 Red Burgundy, a Pernand Vergelesses from Louis Jadot, and we reminisced about the “old” days, when he offered cigars and allowed patrons to retire to the ante-room and smoke there. But the offer got more problematic over the years as the ante-room also served as the sitting area for guests waiting for their tables to open up, and then, the final blow came with the passage of the New York City smoking laws. Dagorn said during the summer months, they do put tables out on the sidewalk, and people are allowed to smoke out there.

Unfortunately, on Thursday night, the thermometer had fallen to about 13 degrees by the end of dinner, so there were no offers for an after-dinner smoke. It still was nice to know that there are cigar lovers in the restaurant trade.

Nonetheless, the entire evening was a wonderful celebration that felt like being back with friends in their dining room eating great food.