I could get used to this. One of my best and oldest friends Melanie Morrissey (who has a past life in off-site catering in NYC) joined me for the HVRW luncheon at La Panetiere on Milton Point in Rye. The only time I’d ever been there was as a photographer at a bar mitzvah years ago and you can’t “dine” when you’re working.
That day I resolved that someday, I would RETURN! And return I did. As you come up the sloping driveway, you leave Rye and enter the French countryside. A wonderfully courteous valet took my old rattletrap car without laughing too hard after having just positioned a Bentley in the parking lot.
The ambiance started at the door and we felt transported to a French country inn. A nice convivial bar was on the left as we entered and we were immediately welcomed, our reservation confirmed and we were seated at a lovely table with a lace overlay, linens, china and silver. Beautiful fresh flowers were in different Quimper-style containers on each table and the salt and pepper shakers were chickens.
The maitre d’ welcomed us and presented us with menus that had a insert with the HVRW special luncheon menu. A waiter brought warm home-baked bread and the sweet butter was served in a pottery holder. We could have stopped with the bread and left happy.
But now the trouble started. What to order?
Three appetizers were a seasonal salad, gnocchi ricotta and a winter veloute. The entree choices were equally daunting: seafood risotto, beef short ribs and braised duck. Mel and I both chose the gnocchi and duck with a very generous reasonably priced merlot.
The gnocchi were as light as clouds with the moisture and flavor of a fine ricotta.
The duck (which arrived looking very dark – almost burnt) was extremely moist and flavorful, plated on a bed of quinoa, pomegranates and cranberry.
Dessert was a perfect sampler of 3 wonderfully different offerings: an “Easter egg” of creamy raspberry sherbet, a lemon tart and a mocha layer cake.
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful lunch. The service throughout was friendly and impeccable. When we left, Mel and I looked at each other and sighed with ultimate satiation and relaxation. The only way anything could have improved was if the sun came out. But it was shining inside.