The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Serendipity and the Enjoyment of Salon ‘96

Posted on | December 8, 2009 | Written by Rob Allen | 3 Comments

Avid foodies, my wife and I are trying to eat our way though New York City, and on the way we have found some really interesting food and wine pairings. A recent trip to a recommended restaurant brought us the simplest—and most surprising—one yet: really good Champagne and French fries!

The night was a scattered one. As usual, we were both running a bit late from work, so we had to rush to make it to our 7:30 reservation.  We arrived at the restaurant to find that our table was not quite ready yet.  As we were fighting to get to the bar to ask for menus and a cocktail, it started to rain heavily.  I’ve been around restaurants and New York to know that this change in weather meant we’d have to wait even longer for our table.

As we waited, chatting and watching the rain fall, my wife and I also looked over the menu carefully and watched some of the food coming out of the kitchen.  We divided and conquered: my wife looked at the food menu, while I pored over the wine list.  We finished at the same time, looked up at each other and said completely different things.

She said, “I’m not sure what I’m going to order: nothing is jumping at me.”

I said, “I see something jumping at me, but it is a bit out of our price range.”

As we discussed food, I thought about that bottle a bit more, and I really began to suspect that it was grossly mispriced with the error in the consumer’s favor.  As our waiter took us to the table I did some quick math and said to my wife that I’d handle the ordering. The waiter asked if we had any questions about the menu. I held up the wine list and asked if the price next to my bottle of choice was a misprint.  He took a look and told me that the number listed was in fact the price. I was sure he was thinking that my choice, a 1996 Salon, was a lot of money. I did some more math, looked at the rain, looked at my wife, and said, “Fine, we will take the bottle.  Can we also just have an order of French fries?” The waiter said, “Of course,” and he left to get the bottle, flutes and bucket.

My wife heard the name of the wine. “Are you crazy?” she hissed as the waiter walked away.  I had anticipated her objection and calmly I explained my math. I told her the Champagne was under-priced by $200, and if we order three courses and a bottle we would end up spending the same money as this meal of fries and serendipitous Champagne.  She sat silently for a moment, and smiled. I knew I’d won.

When the wine came with the French fries, I discovered that it was one of the most divine pairings that Kathy and I have ever had—mostly because of that  bottle of Salon. I learned three things that night. The first was that 1996 Salon is one of the best Champagnes I have ever had; the second was that waiting for a table a bit too long can lead to unbelievable menu discoveries; and the third was that there is always a good pizza place on the way home if you drink, rather than eat, your restaurant budget.


3 Responses to “Serendipity and the Enjoyment of Salon ‘96”

  1. Christy A. Canterbury
    December 8th, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

    Rob – Let me in on your other under-priced discoveries. I’m headed there next week!

  2. Melissa
    December 10th, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

    Back when TriBeCa used to be my stomping grounds, there was nothing like late night mussels (tomato and pesto) and frites with champers at Landmarc!

  3. jorge
    December 22nd, 2009 @ 8:36 am

    So glad we have corrupted you to such a point on the virtues of Salon…

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