Thursday, January 26, 2006

Birds of a Feather

A few weeks ago, we got the sad news that one of our favorite restaurants succumbed to the rules of business and closed down. Some 90% of restaurants fail within the first two to three years (it’s one of the hardest enterprises to run successfully). Bistro St. Marks lasted about three years before closing. It wasn’t an outstanding place, but it was reliable and had an excellent wine list. And the big plus is that we could always get a table without a reservation – probably a good sign of its ultimate demise.

But there are other restaurants, including our favorite, Rosewater, and Wednesday night we went to one of their semi-annual specialty dinners. The theme this time was Game Birds and wines of the Loire Valley. Five courses: Pheasant, Quail, Guinea Hen and Scottish Wood Pigeon. The pheasant and the pigeon were wild and shot in Scottland – three customers ended up munching on some buckshot during the pigeon course. The Quail and Hen were raised (in New Jersey and California, respectively). All birds were provided through D’Artagnan, a provider of top notch meats and poultry. Apparently if you hunt birds in the Scottish Highlands there are companies that will buy them off of you for export to other European countries and America. Tasty stuff.

The wines were fun. John, the proprietor, prefers old school wines of a more traditional bent – less oak and more earth. He paired the Pheasant with a Rose, the Quail with a Blended Muscadet, the Hen with an interesting Gamay, and my favorite, a Cabernet Franc from Chinon with the Pigeon. Domaine Olga Raffault “Les Picasses” 2002.

It’s been a while since we went to one of these dinners, and John promises more in the future – hopefully as soon as May.