Waitman Posted February 18, 2010 Share Posted February 18, 2010 Like probably almost everyone here, I've seen or gotten notice of innumerable wine dinners over the years, collaborations between the various cogs of the wine trade and a local chef or restaurant. I've always avoided them, worried that either the wine would be underwhelming and the price overwhelming, that the restaurant would deliver that kind of upscale banquet food that even the best restaurants tend to put out for large groups, or that I'd be stuck at a table among a bunch of aging wine assholes (as opposed to you and me and the rest of the Rockwellians) with whom I had little in common. Besides, it's not like I'm going to walk out with a $500 case of wine -- not in the budget. I once went to a less structured French wine tasting, sponsored by Calvert-Woodley, and really felt the wines were mostly second-rate and, even though I did buy some at the time, it left a bad taste. but Mrs. B ran across an ad from (again) Calvert-Woodley, offering a flight of Newton wines -- a sentimental favorite going way back -- and Marcel's restaurant, just a favorite favorite. And, at a hundred bucks, tax and tip included, for five courses and five wines, it seemed a deal and a good excuse to catch up with two friends whom we hadn't seen in a long time. It started out badly. Not saying that they were wine assholes, but despite the hushed negotiations conducted by Matt from Calvert Woodley (Washington's greatest Deadhead wine professional) and one of Marcel's impeccably dressed floor staff, the earlier arrivals at our table could not be persuaded to a modest rearrangement of their seating so that our foursome might sit within shouting distance of one another. "All very high school" as a waiter later whispered to us. Just as we were getting to the "fuck this" point, and heading into the bar for something stronger than unfiltered chardonnay, however, Marcel's -- have I mentioned how much I love the service at Marcal's? -- came through with what was described as the "President's table" -- a four-top perched on a small rise between a window to the kitchen and back room where the proles were bunched in steerage, 10 to a table (except the one we were supposed to occupy, of course). And after that, things went well. Swimmingly, even. The food was about 75% as good as Marcel's at its best. I particularly enjoyed the Loup de Mer with garlic puree and the duck "confit" (no way was that real confit but who cares) raviolis. I can't recall vintages but among the wines the unfiltered Chardonnay was a standout -- elegant, complex and restrained (all wine descriptions to ba taken with a grain of salt); the Merlot/Cab Claret was about as good a $20 ($17 this week) steak wine as I ever hope to find and the Cabernet, though young, seemed quite wonderful -- one of those chocolate-y cabs you hear about. All told, for a hundred bucks, it was a good introduction to the restaurant for our friends, a chance to taste five wines from a respected grower -- couldn't really hear her from our balcony seats, but, had we been of the mind we could have chatted her up - and a pretty good way to spend a hundred bucks on a Wednesday night. So my question is, is this normal? Do you generally get your money's worth in food and wine and insider gossip and so on? Or did we luck out, and stumble across a rare combination of food, wine, service and reasonable price? And, with all due respect to the many professionals here, I'd especially like to hear from civilians who have participated in these things through the years. Worth it? Or crap-shoot? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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