I was enjoying my day in the sun, I guess you can say. We really had no plans, but all was going well. My Bride was enjoying it as much as I was, which is a good thing. During our jaunt, we were strongly touted to try a restaurant in Ann Arbor that neither of us had heard of, so we were willing to give it a go, if we could get in, as we had no reservations. We took the leisurely route from Chelsea to Ann Arbor and passed a couple of restaurants, in fact one that was on my list, but we were determined to try this new place. We got there, looked at the posted menu and even my Bride, who is much more open to innovative food could not find anything that she was totally committed to. I said, we are only a couple of blocks away, let us see if you can get a table at The Earle.
I have mentioned The Earle before and we have always enjoyed it, and they have been open since 1977 and it is one of the few restaurants that I have been to, where you don’t have to worry about the view; it is located in the basement of a building. We got to the restaurant just as they were opening up and told them that we didn’t have a reservation, but we were hoping to get a table. The young lady at the front counter had someone take us to the “French Room” and the funny thing is, this is the room where we have always dined in, and I love it, because the one wall is lined with empty wine bottles and how cool is that. Where ever we go, my Bride always wants to sit, so that she can watch who comes into a room, so I always sit with my back to any potential assassin that is going to enter the restaurant that we are dining at. She was befuddled, because there were several groups that demanded to sit somewhere else, and my Bride loves this room, I guess the other people wanted a view of a different part of the cellar. We had a charming waitress that asked if we were celebrating anything, and my Bride told her, and I kind of cringed that I was going to be submitted to a sing-along, but The Earle is really a classy place, especially in my book. My Bride and I started by sharing an appetizer of “vol-au-vent aux escargot” a puff pastry shell filled with escargot, shallots, garlic, white wine, chives, butter and a hint of Pernod. My Bride ordered “Poisson aux noisettes et ciboulettes” or in English her traditional whitefish filet coated with ground hazelnuts and breadcrumbs, sautéed and sauced with a chive beurre blanc on a bed of sautéed spinach and with potatoes. It was a tough menu to decide on, but finally to make it easy with the wine I went with “coquilles St. Jacques a la crème de Xeres” or sea scallops sautéed with mushrooms and garlic, pan-sauced with Sherry and cream with rice. While we tasted each other’s choice, my Bride had wished that she had ordered my entrée, it was really that excellent. We were stoic and held off having a dessert and God knows that I don’t need any dessert.
One of the great things about The Earle is their wine list. Wine Spectator magazine has awarded The Earle their “Best of Award of Excellence” every year since 1983 with a cellar offering of twelve-hundred wines to select from. There are only eleven restaurants in Michigan to hold such an honor, and the best part is, they are listed as having moderate pricing on the wines. My Bride jumped the gun again and ordered a glass of wine almost immediately, which is fine and at least she picked a good one. She had a glass of Montevina Terra d’Oro Chenin Blanc & Viognier Clarksburg 2018. The winery is part of the much larger Trinchero Family Estates of wine, which oversees production of plenty of the wines that most people end up enjoying in the popular priced wines of California. Terra d’Oro Winery began as Montevina Wines in Amador County. This area was first planted with vines in 1849, and the Deaver Vineyard that Terra d’Oro Winery owns was first planted in 1881. Montevina Wines was the first winery in Amador County to produce wines in 1973 since Prohibition ended. This is wine that is aged at the winery in Stainless Steel to maintain the fruit and crispness. The nose offered lemons and sweeter citrus fruit with a soft floral scent, and delivered some crisp acidity that was refreshing as it paired with the escargot. I started off with a glass of Les Vignerons du Mont Ventoux Cuvee 3 Messes Basses 2018 from Ventoux in the Rhone Valley. Wine grapes have been growing in Ventoux since the Thirteenth Century with a long tradition and in 1924, several families created the cooperative Les Vignerons du Mont Ventoux. The classic grapes used in Ventoux are the grapes of the Cotes du Rhone and that is Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre and with some Cinsaut and Carignan thrown into the mix. This Rosé wine is a blend of forty percent Clairette, forty percent Grenache Blanc and twenty percent Bourboulenc and offered a pretty wine with hints of peach and a crisp acidity that also went well with the appetizer. We finished the meal with a bottle of Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuisse 2016 from the Maconnais. Joseph Drouhin is one of the most important names in Burgundy and was founded in Beaune in 1880 with vineyards throughout the entire Burgundy region from village level to Premier Cru wines in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pouilly-Fuisse is the finest appellation for white wines in the Maconnais, and there are four communes that are part of the appellation. There are no Premier Cru designations for the region, so one goes with the reputation of the maker. The area was drawn around 1922, but officially recognized in 1936 and only Chardonnay grapes can be used, and the best of the wines offer a terroir showcasing limestone in the finish of this crisp wine. It was a wonderful wine and a great evening, and the real surprise was, that the restaurant gave us fifty percent off of the food portion of the bill for celebrating my birthday there, and my Bride is already thinking that she might like to celebrate her birthday there as well.