I almost always miss subtlety. I often even miss hints that are not too subtle. For the second time in two weeks I found myself leaving a restaurant a little too late. Last time, it was at Il Mercato and they were cleaning the floors around us. This time it was Himmarshee Bar and Grill in Fort Lauderdale and I tried – but failed – to usher out the last of my friends when the restaurant staff started turning off the lights. It was another night of wine geeks, the impetus for the meal being a friend – and fellow wine geek – in from Texas, and it was a blast.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by the manager who assured us that our private room upstairs was ready for us. Curious as to why we were carrying wine, glasses and boxes of wine with other people’s names on them, he says “Who are you?” So I introduced myself. Clearly he was more interested in the wine aspect of this than who I am. No, really, we are just a bunch of friends who drink wine. Together. Often.
Everyone trickled in close to 8:00 PM. Even the ones notoriously on “Cuban time” got there before 8:15, and before you know it we were enjoying some Champagne (a 1996 Henriot and a 1999 Laurent-Perrier) and catching up.
By 8:45 I was hungry and rallying the group to sit down so we could, maybe, look at menus at eat one day. By then we had started on the 2005 Lynch-Bages Blanc (which was probably my wine of the night) and were eagerly assessing the white wines that we had brought, including a 2005 Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne (toasty and delicious, but will probably be even better in a few years), an Alsatian Reisling (that I can’t recall right now) and a 2003 La Tour Blanche Sauternes (or, as I like to call it, “liquid gold” and “the dessert of champions”). Yum.
Food was ordered, bread arrived and the meal was off to a rockin’ start. At some point the red wines started flowing (feel free to skip this paragraph if you really don’t care what we drank…): a 1978 Domaine des Varoilles Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru La Romanee (it was interesting, anyway), a 2005 Frederic Magnien Chambertin-Clos de Bèze (young, but delicious; I understand why my friend bought all the store had), 2001 Clerc Milon (showing nicely, and it was ready to leave my cellar), a 1996 Pavie Maquin (this was another one of my favorites), a 1986 Ducru-Beaucaillou, 2000 Haut Bages Liberal (much better than the last bottle of this I had), and a 2001 Chateau Pichon Longueville, Comtesse De Lalande.
The restaurant provided us with ample stemware, good food and a fabulous room upstairs. After the last dinner at Himmarshee, which I missed, one friend pronounced the bone-in rib steak the best he has
ever had. It was a popular choice amongst the group. But, the salmon, scallops and lamb were all apparently good as well. The burrata salad was lovely, as were the butternut squash “purses” with brown butter and shitake mushrooms. There is a reason I eat those almost every time I am there. I do wish they would bring back the cheese plate, though. They used to have one of the best cheese courses around.
With apologies to the staff for keeping the lights on for us (although we tip well, and are not a particularly difficult group), I also have to thank them for making yet another wine dinner a great experience. And, since this one wasn’t at my house, I had nothing to clean up.
After all the wine and food, I am off to get myself some more much-needed coffee.