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.
The 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 Streets 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 Fairs 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.
Hors doeuvres at Notars had put a small dent into our
appetites. Still, the first course found half of us
chunky & classic gazpacho (Deb T: one of the best)
==> arugula 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)
These 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.
Entrées chosen included:
==> 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 potatoes)
==> Chicken tangine, with
dried apricots, black olives, cumin & harissa, over
couscous (Joyce: excellent, a flavorful and plentiful
==> Cassoulet au duck confit (Mark:
excellent, and filling, with a large, crispy fried duck
==> bouef bourguignon, smashed potatoes,
root vegetablesall 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)
Desserts lured about half of us:
==> pot de crèmea
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 on chocolate)
==> gelatoscoops 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 alternative choice)
==> Black Sambuca (Chay,
==> Coffee only
Ken, Mark, Joyce
Service 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.
couple other waitstaff helped with clearing dishes,
delivering meals, and filling water glasses, all done
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.)
Ambience 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 beams.
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.
French rustic linen enclosed the four piece silverware
set, with one votive candle centerpiece awaiting
lighting. Bread plates were set just after bread was
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 billincluding tax,
tips, and drinkof $100. (The bill came with a 20%
gratuity includeda practice that rubs some of us
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 array:
==> flatbreads, one with
tomato and pesto with cheese, second of black truffle
==> plate of cheese
chunks wrapped in prosciutto; Asiago with rosemary;
cheese with salami and Capicola
==> mozzarella and tomato
chunks in a balsamic drizzle
==> hummus with crackers
included a decanted Moulin DAngludet 2007 Margaux,
a Benziger 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, and diet soda.
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; Kens
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.