There is nothing unique about restaurants staging winemaker dinners on a regular schedule with the winemaker or representative from one winery featured. But an interesting departure from the traditional takes place at the Renaissance Restaurant in Hollywood thanks to Gerald Marini, Sommelier and Maitre D'.
He has originated one of the best new ideas for winemaker dinners that we have encountered. At the Renaissance the monthly wine dinners are spread over two evenings with no fixed time of arrival for guests and the wines of an entire region or country are featured. Mr. Marini and Chef Phil Christodoulou combine their considerable talents to match the wines to the food.
Originally from Provence where his family were grape growers for wine producers, Gerald learned about wines early in life and then attended the Ecole Hoteliere in Toulon for three years. He came to California in 1987 and has held management positions in several outstanding restaurants before joining Renaissance in 1994.
This format for the dinners is possible since the restaurant has one of the best wine lists in West Los Angeles. There are some 300 labels and fourteen pages of vintages listed by both region and country.
On our visit wines of France were featured. With our appetizer course of snow crab in Philo dough with kale the wine was Dopee & Irion 2011 Alsace Gewurztraminer. We gave high marks for this wine which was true to its varietal in both aroma and taste. For the next course there was a choice between braised spare ribs with red wine, porcini and mashed potatoes or Coquille St. Jacques, scallop with leek in a cream sauce which was our choice. With our seafood the wine was a 2003 Chateau Coustaut Graves. For those with the ribs the wine was Marc Bredif 2010 Chinon from the Loire Valley. We tasted both wines and again high marks for each. The Graves was dry and with prominent flavors. The red was excellent with soft aroma and mellow on the palate.
These wines were also excellent companions for entrees that included rack of lamb with finger potatoes, shallots and white beans or Monk fish with potato tart and caramelized fennel. We chose the rack of lamb and were certainly not disappointed. As usual the pastry chef came through with one of his outstanding desserts, this time Napoleon aux Figues. With it a sparkling wine 2011 Jean Philippe Brut cuvee produced Methode Traditonnelle. The sparkler was dry for a Brut but matched the dessert perfectly.
Renaissance is a restaurant that has earned some of the highest awards of the Southern California Restaurant Writers through many years.
Last year Executive Chef Phil Christodoulou was named Chef of the Year by the Writers for his quarter century of ourstanding culinary excellence. Some years ago Gerald Marini was named Sommelier of the Year by the Writers.
These gourmet wine dinners are held at the Renaissance on Thursdays and Fridays, generally the last week of the month. Another interesting feature is that diners who do not want to participate in the wine dinners are also welcome those evenings.
As the dining room for the Manor Hotel the Renaissance is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. It is located at 5930 Franklin Avenue in the heart of Hollywood. Call 323 960-3222 for reservations which are recommended for the popular wine dinners.
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