Craving French Bistro food after watching a sneak preview of the movie Bottle Shock, the Beast and I made our way to Didier. By the by, the movie was based on the 1976 scandalous “Judgment of Paris” blind tasting where Californian Chardonnays and Bordeaux varietals beat out their French counterparts. Even though most of the movie was set in Napa, the best scenes took place in France—so that’s where we headed. The Beast has always wanted to go to Didier ever since I came home from a lunch there and regaled him with tales of Andouille sausage. Unfortunately, it was closed on Monday.
The details of what happened next are difficult to recount. I vaguely remember dialing 411, and then jumping into a cab. Before we knew it we were stepping into The Keg. Make that The Keg Mansion.
I can’t tell you whose idea it was. I’d like to say it was the Beast’s, but I think I’ve always had a real soft spot for The Keg, so it could have been me. The Keg used to be the ultimate in dining out for me. It was fancy. It was expensive. It was glamorous. And it was the first place I remember enjoying red wine (probably Wolf Blass Yellow Label since it was the only wine that existed in my mind in 1995) alongside red meat.
We were seated immediately in one of the many grandiose old rooms. This one reminded me of a Ralph Lauren store—dark mahogany wood, paintings of horses, fireplaces, and burgundy leather chairs.
“We’re here, so let’s do it up right, “ I said. “Order whatever you want.” The Beast’s eyes widened. We settled on a couple of timeless (if you lived in 1988 for the rest of your life) seafood appetizers: scallops wrapped in bacon and baked garlic shrimp with cheddar and mozzarella melted all over the top. Then we each got a Caesar salad, and finally our 8 oz sirloin steak dinners. The Beast chose a baked potato and ordered his steak rare. Out of nostalgia, I chose the garlic mashed potatoes and ordered my steak medium. Yes–I’ve come a long way from my days of eating grey meat. You’ll be pleased to know that I actually prefer medium rare, but I find if I order it medium, I always get a perfectly cooked medium-rare piece of meat. I have a theory on why this is, and will save it for a future post, don’t you worry.
Our server was a dear. Actually, she provided perfect service; knowledgeable, not too friendly in that kneel at the edge of the table sort of way, and she was there to assist us just when we needed her to be.
As usual, the Beast kept to his Creemore pints. I started with a glass of Inniskillin Riesling and finished with 9 ounces of J Lohr Cabernet. I think they call that a Keg size. Regardless, it was just perfect with my perfectly cooked meat. The Beast felt he should have ordered his medium (medium-rare) too, simply because the rare was a bit chewy. His mouth was tired by the end of the meal. My mouth was fine but my pants were undone because I was so full. Dessert simply wasn’t an option so we cabbed it home and fell immediately into a cathartic sleep. We were well-fed, comforted, just slightly drunk, and best of all, reminded of a time when things weren’t so complicated; when dinner out wasn’t comprised of tasting menus and dry ice. It was just steak and potatoes in an old mansion.