You can blink now

posted 1 February 2005, updated 9 February 2005

On Friday, we usually go out to eat, and this last week, we decided to try the restaurant of the Hôtel Metropole in Beaulieu, which Gault-Millau rate 15/20. (They rate on a scale of 20 points, like the French school system. There are only two 20's in the world, and until two years ago there were none. We would place the best Tallahassee has to offer--say Mozaik, Kool Beanz, and Cypress--at about 13/20.) We had planned to walk from the apartment, but the freezing rain that started as we left work changed our minds. By the time we got home, changed clothes, and were ready to set out, the rain had turned to snow.

At the Metropole, the valet parking guy couldn't get over it--"Have you seen? It's snowing! It never snows here!"--but it did, heavily and accompanied by howling winds, for a good hour and a half. The dining room was deserted, because it was only about 7:30 p.m., the earliest French restaurants open for dinner, but the Metropole is a class establishment so the tables were elegantly set, each decorated with a pot of blooming miniature roses, and all the candles were lit, including those on the awning-shaded terrace outside, where the miniature roses shivered in their pots and the flames wavered in the wind even inside their hurricane glasses. The maitre d' was even there and on duty (7:30 diners often see only the commis--i.e., junior assistant--waiters), straightening his jacket as he popped hurriedly out of the kitchen door.

As we often do at a new restaurant that we expect to return to, we ordered one of the set menus--it gives you a chance to find out the kitchen's strengths and weaknesses, and it usually features the ingredients that are freshest that day and the dishes the chef is most proud of, so you have a better idea what to order à la carte later--and it was great. It really restores your faith in gastronomy.

And this was the smallest, least expensive set menu! Next time, we'll probably order à la carte, because I want to try the whole fish roasted on the bone, and David looks forward to trying the lamb and goose-liver dishes.

SnowWhen we got home, we found half an inch of snow on the roofs of the cars in our parking lot, and in the morning a light dusting still remained on the lawn below our balcony.

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