1906 a gem of a restaurant at Longwood Gardens

March 11, 2013

Please visit Longwood Gardens. We enjoyed the sumptuous orchid display. Sorry this is so late since the show will be closing in a few weeks. Most think of Longwood in the warmer months. However, the indoor area will keep you busy all day if you take time to smell the flowers, a feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul. I always leave refreshed. And 1906 fine dining restaurant is excellent. Good service, the food is fair value, the wine list has better-than-average diversity, with a favorable selection of wine by the glass. The wine is somewhat overpriced; most wines by the glass are $10 and the pour is six to the bottle.

I took a stroll through the fast-service side, average food, done in advance, and some looked a bit played out. The 1906 is a cut well above, comparing favorably to many Rehoboth and Lewes restaurants.  The walls are windows, but even in winter drab there were several trees in spring bloom. A lovely three-course meal of cream of mushroom soup, lots of shrooms and real cream done up with flair, flavor and a perfect, light café au lait color; shrimp Benedict with carefully poached three-minute eggs (you could barely perceive the slight acid tang of the poaching liquid and the eggs were very fresh; use of old eggs or boiling them produces thin, runny whites) with creamy grits and a point perfect tomato hollandaise plus a dessert selection was  $28.  A la carte, the shrimp cost $16.  I had a beet salad made with golden and purple baby beets, a nice little herb salad, crumbled Montrachet and citrus vinaigrette. This salad was excellent. However, I am nearly certain the Montrachet was, in fact, a domestic goat cheese. No biggie and I’m guessing few would notice, as it was a decent variety, $12.  Marguerite had parsnip crème soup. This was also excellent. Generous portion, discreet flavor, creamy with no flour flavors, $9. Longwood is in Pennsylvania, so you will pay state sales tax.

The 2010 Bordeaux have hit the market with a splash, better than 2009s; remember “the vintage of the decade” blather. Keep your powder dry; the nadir should be sometime late this summer when 2011 comes on stream. 2011 are coming in around 91-94 and the French economy is in a tizz. I’m guessing 2011 red Bordeaux come in much lower. In fact, in an article from WS, James Molesworth is claiming as much as a 50 percent discount. Those 2009 petit cru will not take a hit because we bought them cheaply. However, this may be the time for big-buck boys to flex their money clips.

I have sampled several big-name touted Bordeaux from 2009 and 2010. The balance on 2010 is better, but they don’t have the prominent features that usually project long term. 2009 reminds me of 1982: “Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye.” - George M. Cohan. Santa Ynes Firestone Chard 2010, $17, 91 points, excellent price/value. Pale golden pineapple, buttered toast, creamy mouthfeel, excellent balance, bright acidity provides clean finish.  2010 Heritance SB, 91 points, $18. This is an elegant wine made to drink this summer. Lime, green grass nose, on the palate nectarine and a touch of pepper . Semillon in the blend adds a buttery mouthfeel, an Old World SB flair, for a very low price.

Reds under $20 rated over 90 points: Look to the Aussies again. Peter Lehmann Clancy’s 200, $13.99.  Mitolo The Jester Cabernet 2010, 92 points. I write this often. Mitolo consistently produces a wonderful wine. From the Argentine at  $19. Catena Malbec, $19, rate it 92 points. Finally from good ol’ USA there are few better bargains than Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon, under $155/case or $15/bottle is stealing. Layer Cake is a winemaker’s art, blended by Jayson Woodbridge of grapes from California to get high profile cheaply. So far he has succeeded, although the wine snobs can’t agree on rating. Please try the 2010. Dark purple color, it opens to ripe plum, smoke and dark chocolate on the palate - caramel, cherries and pie spices. Great QPR !

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