Friday, November 21, 2008

Long Time Coming

We went to our first fixed price dinner last night -- three courses and three choices at each course. The reason I've never done this is there is always something included that I refuse to eat. Roy's, Rancho Mirage, tempted me strongly -- lobster dim sum to start! -- followed by some kind of Hawaiian fish and ... that was that.

Le Saint Raphael (previously reviewed) was saluting the start of the "new" Beaujolais season and consequently, for $35 per person, one was offered a glass of chilled Beaujolais as a "Welcome!" followed by: appetizer - French onion soup or a plate of charcuterie (wedge of very good country pate, prosciutto, French ham, salame with a slice of brioche toast and cornichons) or the cheese plate (grapes and strawberry slices and servings of Brie, Camembert, a domestic cheddar - cut to look like carrot sticks, very amusing -- and another hard cheese.) For the main course - Beef Bourgogne or fish en papillote or Chicken Cordon Bleu. Dessert was Creme Brule or Chocolate Cake or Tarte Tartin.

I managed to stretch it to four courses by asking that my cheese plate be served after the beef bourgogne while I shared Richie's ample plate of charcuterie. Robaire, our server, stretched it to five courses by giving both of us a flute of champagne along with the bill!

When he approached and it was clear that he intended to do it, I blurted out with suave sophistication, "Is it free?" and he smiled, nodded and said, "For the most beautiful woman in the room!" I had to laugh (and what I said back in French is not repeatable for your gentle ears.)

We both ordered the Beef Bourgogne which came with green mashed potatos (basil infused) that might be more appropriate for St. Patrick's Day, a lighter version of maque choux, the Cajon corn dish and a serving of very salty but tender beef. The owner's mother was working that night and she visited our table a ouple of times to chat. When I complained about it, she commiserated and said, "I know! I tell him it's too salty or too spicy, but he doesn't listen to me!"

Le Saint Raphael is owned by the family who own the Creme de la Crepes. The mother of Jessica (Le Saint) and Bruno (the Cremes) said that she is 56 years old, but I promise you she doesn't even look 40 -- 4 ft. 8 in. and size 0 to boot. Damned French women anyhow.

This was a great experience )and I'm obviously still remembering it with warmth) due to Robaire's professional serving (I caught his eye across the room, he gave a great start and hurried over to our table -- he's a gifted clown,) generally good food and the friendliness of the owners. I remember when Creme de la Crepe opened in Hermosa Beach and that Bruno (presumably) always had a friendly word and concern that you were enjoying your food. It's an excellent family gene to have.

Le Saint Raphael, 522 S. Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach 90277 310-543-5100.

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