A historic evening it was for
Dinner Party of Eight!
After 128 dinner dates, someone other than Karnes, Teator, Adams or
Monteverd acted as host and selected the restaurant. So, congratulations,
Mark and Joyce for sharing the experience.
other historic facet was our first ever massive traffic jam, this one
leading into Rhinebeck. After idling along 9G for 20-30 minutes, we nudged
rightward to Middle Road reconnoitered to the main street, and entered Market
Street’s Arielle only fifteen minutes late. We never did ascertain if
there was an accident, or if it was just “normal” backup traffic for
the Dutchess County Fair’s last night.
A quick look at the menu, and
surroundings, announces “France.” A wide range of choices, especially
on the entrée menu, should have allowed a worthy decision.
at Notars had put a small dent into our appetites. Still, the first course
found half of us partaking:
==> gazpacho—a chunky & classic
gazpacho (Deb T: one of the best)
piled on pear slices, topped with parmesan shavings, drizzled in balsamic
(Deb K, shared with Chay: a simple but excellent salad)
==> crispy artichoke hearts, with parsley,
garlic, caper-yogurt sauce: (Mark and Joyce each: good, worth a try)
came after a linen-wrapped, metal-braid basket of chewy French bread had
appeared within ten minutes after seating. Two small squared bowls of
olive oil and balsamic vinegar accompanied; the shape of the small bowls
defied easy application.
==> Seared scallops – not Deb T!
==> Skate, with brown butter, capers &
lemon, asparagus (Deb K: very good, a light fish that proved tasty)
==> Grilled salmon, pesto smashed
potatoes, haricot vert (Deb T: all were excellent, even the green
==> Chicken tangine, with dried apricots,
black olives, cumin & harissa, over couscous (Joyce: excellent, a
flavorful and plentiful dish)
au duck confit (Mark: excellent, and filling, with a large, crispy fried
bourguignon, smashed potatoes, root vegetables—all in a stew bowl (Don:
excellent, great comfort food!)
==> Mussels & shrimp (the black ink
squid declined) in a spicy red sauce turned black from the black ink
(Chay: very good although portion was small)
==> Strip steak, with frites and small
salad (Ken: ordered medium, good steak, disappointing salad of only
lettuce with a thin dressing; Kriss: ordered well, came out medium-rare,
sent back, came back barely medium, and ate only two small cuts; same
comment about “salad”)
lured about half of us:
==> pot de crème—a medium sized ramekin
filled with a dense, chocolate-rich mound, topped with a dab of cream (Deb
K, Kriss: both excellent; Don agreed, almost ruing the one time he passed
==> gelato—scoops of vanilla and
hazelnut (Deb T: a tasty dessert)
==> Crepe Mont Blanc, with hazelnut sauce
filling, with a side portion of crème fraiche (Don: a very good
==> Black Sambuca (Chay, of course)
==> Coffee only – Ken, Mark, Joyce
was mostly good, with Melissa from Bath enlivening the room with a smile
and pleasant attitude. She was helpful and attentive most of the way.
However, Kriss needed to send back the steak for more cooking once, and
the second time was barely better, and waitstaff presence was sparse right
around then. We need to be more assertive.
And then a couple dinners were a bunch later than the rest, and
that, we realize, should not be the responsibility of Melissa. Still, the
go-between waitstaff have to ease whatever stresses emanate from the
kitchen, even on a busy night.
Kriss’ steak was deleted from the bill.
A couple other waitstaff helped with clearing dishes, delivering
meals, and filling water glasses, all done consistently.
The drink order
included a couple bottles of Crane Lake 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (six) and
diet soda or water (two). (Side note: wine markup, if my notes are right,
ranks among the highest DP8 has seen. Crane Lake goes for $10 retail, $6
at Empire, and $36 at Arielle.)
at Arielle is pleasant with a French feel. Red-stenciled letters on the
two large plate windows sets an understated tone. A five-foot wide divider
wall allows for the greeter to welcome people properly without being a
spectacle to diners. And it was we DP8 that was sitting behind that wall,
not even aware that the door was ten feet away. The eating space might be
30’ x 20’, not large at all. We occupied a 4-on-a-side collection of
small tables running the center length of the room. On either side of us
were tables paralleling the gray-pattern upholstered banquettes, with
gray-pattern large pillows to lean against. About twenty could dine on the
village center side and about twelve on the east side.
The banquettes acted as a wainscoting, with the upper side walls
nearly filled with a couple dozen paintings, with the larger paintings
having their own lighting. Otherwise, lighting came from five cloth-shade
hanging lamps on the sides, with an eight-pronged chandelier right above
us. Complimenting the lighting was a half dozen shaped-metal sconces.
Bare floors (pine, I thought) felt French rustic, with barn-siding
enclosed ceiling beams adding to that feel, and the color scheme was the
classic muted French pastel on the upper walls and on the ceiling between
One odd note was the butcher paper topping the white linens at each
table. Yup, kind of Frenchy but not, with the paper ends reminding us we
were eating on paper.
A French rustic linen enclosed the four piece silverware set, with
one votive candle centerpiece awaiting lighting. Bread plates were set
just after bread was delivered.
Noise level was medium-ish but the long table layout is always
tough for the ends to hear each other. And pacing was comfortable, about
two-and-a-quarter hours, although I thought I saw some fidgeting. For
those who like French, Arielle was a comfortable fit.
Paymaster Deb figured a final bill—including tax, tips, and
drink—of $100. (The bill came with a 20% gratuity included—a practice
that rubs some of us wrong.)
As indicated earlier, the
Notarnicolas entertained DP8 this evening. Perfect weather greeted us and
made for a pleasant sit-around on the back deck. Mark and Joyce had
prepared a plentiful appetizer
==> flatbreads, one with tomato and pesto
with cheese, second of black truffle mushroom
==> plate of cheese chunks wrapped in
prosciutto; Asiago with rosemary; cheese with salami and Capicola
==> mozzarella and tomato chunks in a
==> hummus with crackers
Drinks included a decanted
Moulin D’Angludet 2007 Margaux, a Benziger 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, and
Topics there, at the restaurant, and on the car rides included: the
pictures Deb brought of the new Adamses’ house near DC; much appreciated
recent weather; a new tow wagon; the Saratoga baby; a new job for a
daughter; the Teator trip to Manhattan; golfing; school (shhh, not so
loud); retirement for the unretired; RPI goings-on; barn fire at Kohrs;
Ken’s “tapas” bar (shirts on, sorry); a few innuendos that raised a
hoot or two, an eyebrow from Kriss, but rolled on harmlessly.
Someone asked how many different places have we been to. Well, we have
held 129 DP8 dates. Subtract the 20 dinners at our own houses, and we
reduce that number to 109. Subtract the 20 repeats (FCI and MVB are
responsible for nearly half), and we have visited 89 different
establishments in 10 years, 10 months.