In May the League of Gentle Men, an invitation-only wine group of which I am a member, held their latest dinner at Restaurant Nice Matin where Chef Eric Starkman prepared an impressive tasting menu for us. The restaurant, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side at the base of the Lucerne Hotel, is a 25-year-old French bistro.
When I returned home, I told my wife, Michele, all about the meal and she said that she would like to try the restaurant and we made a date to go. At the restaurant, we spoke with Chef Starkman and asked him to choose a menu for us along with wines.
We started with a light and refreshing Tomato and Peach Salad in a light balsamic dressing with fresh mint.
Next we had a Socca Crepe, made with chickpea flour, filled with ratatouille and goat cheese.
Sancerre “les Pierris” 2020 Roger Champault made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The estate is over 50 acres which are farmed to the HVE process and the wines are HVE certified. The wine is a blend of grapes planted on two different soils. The Terres Blanches which gives complexity represents 70% of the blend. The expression and the minerality are from the Caillottes based vineyards. Fermentation is in thermoregulated vats to keep its freshness. After racking the wine stays on the fine lees until bottling in April which adds to the complexity of the wine. The wine has hints of white fruit, herbs, grass and a hint of melon.
Next up was Nicoise-style Ravioli, fresh pasta stuffed with a rich beef short rib filling in a Provencale tomato sauce with a drizzle of basil oil.
Rosso di Montalcino 2020 Col D’Orcia (the hill overlooking the Orcia river) made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone and marl and the vineyards are at 1,500 ft. The grapes are hand harvested from estate vineyards. Fermentation takes place for 10/12 days at a controlled temperature in shallow wide steel tanks (150 HL) which help to preserve the freshness, the primary fruit flavors and aromas of the grapes. The wine is aged for 12 months in Slavonian casks (75 and 150 HL). Then it remains in bottle for one year before release. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints a wild berries, cherries and balsamic notes. This is a Rosso that will age. The vineyards of the estate are certified organic.
Duck Breast with Green Olives was our main dish. It was a perfect choice because when we were in Paris recently we were sorry to have missed a version of this dish at a restaurant we visited. We hadn’t realized until it was too late that it was the restaurant’s specialty, but I can’t imagine that it could have been any better than Chef Starkman’s version. It was tender and perfectly cooked.
With it we drank Monopole Santenay 2016 Clos Des Gatsulards Louis Jadot made from 100% Pinot Noir. The Santenay appellation is located in the South Côte de Beaune. The Gatsulards part is in front of Santenay Clos de Master, slightly higher, a single vineyard/monopole. The soil is rich in limestone and marl. The wine has aromas of rose petal, violet, red and black fruits, cherry, blueberry and a touch of licorice. It was a delight to drink and will age for a number of years,
We were sure that we were too full for dessert, but then the chef brought us each a small chocolate souffle which was served with Grand Marnier creme anglaise. We couldn’t resist such a delicious dessert.
Michele and I enjoyed every bite of the excellent meal as well as the wine tasting chosen by the sommelier from Nice Matin’s excellent wine list.