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May 18, 2007 09:05 AM

Vintner Dinners

Anyone attending a NOWFE Vintner Dinner next Wednesday? I will be at the Grill at the Windsor Court, my first vintner dinner, and my first time in that restaurant in 18 years. I'm curious for any input on vintner dinners in general and specifically how the Windsor Court has been recently. Also, would love to see some feedback next Thursday on any of the other dinners.

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  1. I have heard shaky reports about the grill at Windsor Court. Mainly the level of service is not the same. They also lost thier Chef not to long ago which may also affect the cuisine. There are some fantastic vintner's dinners this year, I did not know which one to choose.

    1. We've done the NOWFE several times, but have not been post-Katrina. In general, most vintner's dinners are good and fun. Last one was '05 and was Ravenswood/G W Fins. We made this choice based on the wines and the restaurants on the list. Interesting pairing (restaurant and winemaker) I have to add. Joel Peterson, previous owner (before selling to Constallation Brands, or similar), and winemaker for Ravenswood, even commented, " hey, I make big Zins, and I'm teamed with a seafood restaurant! Sonoma-Cutrer, who makes only white wines, is pouring at Dickie B's Steakhouse. Go figure... " He struggled to pair his wines with the food, but did an OK job. I think that the committees of NOWFE should consider the wines and the restaurant's proclivity, when they match them up. It could be better, and maybe now is, as we all have commented several times on the matchups.

      In years past, we've found better combos of wine/restaurants, and been a bit more pleased.

      Now to the Grill Room @ Windsor Court: not too long after it opened (but after a "shake-down" time), we were there for my wife's birthday. Normally, we do table #8 at Commander's, but she was delivering a talk at the Windsor Court, so we did the Grill Room. I made the reservations ~ 5 months out, and requested a "romantic" table for 2, mentioning that my wife (NOLA native), was celebrating her birthday. Got there and we were seated right next to a bussing station. Each time that a server went to it, my wife's chair moved 6". There was a vacant table, overlooking the patio, and I requested of the hostess, that we be moved. She said that that table had been specifically reserved, so she could not move me. After a dozen hits on the chair, I went back to the hostess and asked to be moved, as the patio-view table was STILL vacant. She said to be patient, and if the folk did not show during the next 30 minutes (they were already 20 minutes late), she would move me. When I returned to our table, I saw a coupe being seated at the window. I commented to my wife, that the "reservations" had finally been honored. She informed me, that this was the couple seated behind us, who had demanded that table. I talked to the hostess, and she said that the recently re-seated couple had just made more noise, than I had, so she re-seated them, so they would not cause a stir. So much for Mr Nice Guy.

      We had an OK dinner, but nothing that I could have gotten in Denver, where we lived, or Phoenix, where we now live. Wine was marked up ~500-600% and was poured into inferior stemware. The tab came to ~US$450 for the two of us. I still have a comp meal for two from the management, but have had no inclination of using it. When "back" in NO, there are just too many great restaurants, to pay top $ for mediocre food, over-priced wine, and service that could not care less if one has a good experience. Now, I will admit that the Grill Room had just gotten the "Best New Chef" award from "Food & Wine" mag, so they were riding very high, and a couple from Denver could not be THAT important, right? Even a free meal is not worth missing most other restaurants in NOLA!

      Do you want me to tell you how I REALLY feel? Nah, you can get it from the above comments. I have to admit that a lot of years have passed, and many changes have probably been made. However, it would take the late, Al Brounstein, pouring a vertical of all of his Diamond Creek Lake Vineyard Cabs, to get me back.

      BTW, who is the winemaker pouring there?

      Also, glad to hear that someone is doing NOWFE this year. Last year, I posted a similar article, as yours, and no one responded. We had hoped to do it, but several of our NOLA family was still living with us in PHX, and we didn't want to leave them all alone, while we went back to NO for a Food & Wine event. Hope to make it down next year, if we are lucky.


      4 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt


        Thanks for the feedback.

        The dinner was of course last night, and the wines were from Foley and Lincourt of Santa Barbara. We tasted a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, two Pinots, a Cab, a Shiraz, and an Italian sparkling dessert wine. I must say that we thought the pairings, and the food quality, were fantastic.

        There were passed canapes, including a terrific foie gras, scallops, a trio of very interesting tomato dishes (paired with the pinots), roulades of pheasant, veal chops, and an interesting dessert.
        I can certainly understand your negative review. Had I taken my wife for a special occaision and been on the receiving end of the same service, I'd feel the same way. However, I am pleased to say that our experience was far more pleasant. We had a terrific evening, and we left feeling we got good value for the $125 per person.
        On another note, I agree with you and I am more than a little surprised that there's been no discussion of the various dinners on this board. Anyone else out there attended the Windsor and have an alternate take? Any reviews of any of the other dinners?

        1. re: steveds

          Yes. After I posted, including my little rant, I checked the NOWFE site to see who WAS pouring at Windsor Court. I started to add a line about asking Bill Foley to NOT use all those odd-sized/shaped bottles, as they are difficult to store in a traditional cellar, but it was already 7:00PM NO-time, so I did not bother.

          The important thing is that the food and the wine were great. Can't get much better than that.

          Remember that my experience was ~10 years ago, and they did come forward and offer to comp 2 dinners, at a later date. That date has just never come. Too much good food, and too little time, when were in NOLA.

          Thanks for the report. I'm glad that NOWFE has not suffered too much to continue. It's a great event, and we plan on attending again, maybe next May.

          Only real complaint that I have is that the "Vintner's Dinners," are all on the same night. Most times, we've been pulled between 2-3, that we *really* wanted to do. However, life is filled with choices.

          Last request: tell me a bit more about Lincourt. I have heard the name, but am not familiar with their wines. I'll go Google 'em now, to get some background.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            don't know if this what you're after but there's a vinter's or wine dinner at Galatoire's for wines and 5-course menu (including cafe brulot to end the meal, and wines and tax and tip inclusive) all for $150 per.

            it's this sat even at 7pm.

            1. re: kevin

              I think that the OP's questions were about the dinners, that are part of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. However, knowing that Galatoire's has some will be a plus, as we missed NOWFE this year, and are always on the lookout for good vintner's dinners, along with great chef's tasting menus, especially if they do a good job of wine pairings. I'll definitely check Galatoire's, before our next trip over, and see what their schedule is - thanks!