A great meal and a very happy birthday

Courtesy of unknown photographer on boston.com

There are moments in life where food, wine and circumstances blend so perfectly you end up with tornado warnings and an impressive storm.  Last night I took my fiancée to dinner at Aquitaine in the South End for his big birthday, had an amazing dinner and ended up with a spectacular light show outside the window.

Aquitaine has always been a solid restaurant for dinner, but last night I was able to see just how special they are.  I had made my reservation using Open Table and simply asked for nice spot because I was celebrating a birthday.  We arrived and were received warmly by the host.  For me, having been in the restaurant business for 15 years, that was a big deal.  I have been in places where the host is unpleasant and all I want to do is turn around and leave.  Thankfully, Acquitaine recognizes that a welcoming host is the best first impression a restaurant can make.  She sat us down in the back by the big window and put a birthday card down next to Matt’s menu. What a nice personal touch!

Our server, Chris, was phenomenal.  He wished Matt a happy birthday right off the bat, introduced himself and gave us a few minutes to decide on wine.  He knew his menu, knew his wine and exuded a quiet charm and confidence.

I, being obsessed with big Bordeauxs recently, chose the 2004 Chateau Compassant.  From rising Bordeaux Star Jean-Luc Thunevin, the Chateau Compassant is a right bank blend of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Jean-Luc first came to fame with his “garage” Chateau Valandraud project, focusing on micro cuvees, and work on their vineyard to lower the yields and produce the ripest fruits possible. While Jean-Luc might be the new bad boy of Bordeaux, this right bank offering from just east of St. Emilion is very traditional with some earthy funk, luscious fruit, and firm tannins.   This Bordeaux needed some air and by the time our dinners arrived it was opening up beautifully.  An hour of decanting would have made this wine perfect from the start, but we didn’t have that kind of time.   I let my glass breathe during our appetizer salads and when my steak frittes arrived all I could say was-delicious!

As Matt and I slid into the dessert course, I asked Chris for a recommendation for the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse.  The menu suggested the Graham’s Six Grape Ruby Reserve, which I have had and wanted something new.  I asked about a cognac and he was quick to point out that the cognac would overpower the delicate flavors of my dessert.  Chris said “Banyuls…that’s what you want.”  Perfect.  I am always happy when a server has a better suggestion.  Matt quickly ordered his Crème Brulee and the Muscat de Baumes de Venise to go with it.

What can I say?  Our meal was heavenly, from top to bottom.  The light show from the sky started during dessert and was the perfect ending.  An awe-inspiring meal and an awe-inspiring act of nature.  Happy Birthday Matt!

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