Restaurant Taillevent

T his renowned, reliable eating establishment offers fabulous service and a club-like atmosphere. The credit for its professionalism goes to proprietor Jean-Claude Vrinat. The food rarely receives the raves some of France's other three-star restaurants garner, but this meal was clearly of three-star quality. It began with a brilliant terrine of foie gras, a classic dish that was carried off magnificently. Next came a perfectly prepared filet of St.-Pierre followed by an outstanding roasted chicken that was as good as chicken can be (and I think of myself as a connoisseur of roasted chicken).

The wines selected by Jean-Claude Vrinat began brilliantly with a marvelously youthful, fresh, mineral-dominated Raveneau 1990 Chablis Butteaux. This 14-year old Chablis could have easily been mistaken for one a decade younger. We moved to a good, but uninspiring 1987 Château Grillet, which had some sentimental value for me since my daughter was born that year. The 1993 Domaine Roumier Chambolle-Musigny was so acidic and devoid of fruit that it was undrinkable. I could not handle the tart acidity and found it almost non-wine-like because of its shrillness. However, it was quickly forgotten by a very good 1999 Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape. Its clean, black raspberry and currant fruit notes were intermixed with hints of new saddle leather, earth, and truffles. Although more austere than such riper vintages as 1998 and 2000, it is a medium-bodied, beautifully made Châteauneuf. All in all, this was a fine evening of impeccable cooking and brilliant service.

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