A couple of days after the BLT Steak wine debacle, I went to Sunday lunch with some friends at Union Square Café in New York City. I used to go there all the time in the early 1990s, but I had not been back in years. I heard that they had a good Italian wine list, doing special verticals of different producers, so I wanted to check it out.
I had a really good lunch. The food, service and wine list was just what I wanted. The food was clean, well-prepared and delicious. I had a main of big, juicy pan-seared scallops in a brown butter sauce with glazed onions, carrots and cauliflower that was to die for. (I miss good scallops in Tuscany!)
I had ordered a bottle of 2002 red Burgundy (honestly, I don't remember the name) and the waitress came back after about five minutes and said they ran out. "I spoke to the manager, and we would like to offer you a 2003 Domaine Lignier-Michelot Burgundy for the same price," she said with a smile. I think it was about $50 more than my selection. I don¹t know if they were doing it because of me, but that was really cool. And I hope that they would do the same for other people.
I didn¹t take them up on their offer. I am not a great fan of 2003 red Burgundies. I ordered a bottle of 2002 Dubreuil-Fontaine Pére & Fils Corton Clos du Roi, and it was fabulous. It was perfumed and sexy on the nose, with subtle spice, strawberry and cherry aromas, yet it was firm, masculine and racy, as a Corton should be. It was drinkable now, but will improve for years to come. 91 points, non-blind.
We finished the bottle and the waitress went to whisk it away from the table. I asked her if she could leave it on the table, because I like to look at the bottle, even empty. "Let me soak off the label for you," she said.
I was impressed. That's another cool thing to do. I can't remember the last time someone offered to do that for me at a restaurant. Love it!
I told my buddy, Wine Spectator executive editor Tom Matthews, about this, and he told me a funny story. Apparently, years ago, a friend of his was just starting out as a waitress and a customer asked her if she would soak off the label for him. She said, "Of course, sir!" and swiftly took the bottle back to the kitchen, soaked it and wire-brushed the label off the bottle. She returned to the table with a big smile and a perfectly clean bottle, "sans etiquette."
Tom said she didn't get a tip from that table. Poor thing.
Anyway, Union Square Café is definitely worth going to if you're in New York City. It's a warm and friendly place for a leisurely weekend lunch with good wine, good food and good friends.