It was a busy Friday night in the Texas French Bread dining room last weekend. Between tables, our longtime server Betty Cole glanced at the wine list. "Well - what's it going to be?" I asked for the third or forth time. She put her elbows on the stainless top of the dessert fridge, loose bun dropping to one side of her face and then the other as she unconsciously cocks her head back and forth, considering her options.
Betty began a "TFB sabbatical" this week, taking some time off for well deserved relaxation and adventure. On her last night in the restaurant before her break, it felt only right to sit down together over a spectacular bottle of wine of her choosing from our list - my treat in celebration of her impending time off.
And so it was late last Friday, after most of our customers had departed, that I found myself gathered around the bar table with a handful of my favorite people - Jessica, Christa, Whitney, and of course Betty. In front of us was quite the feast: briny olives, our house mozzarella made with curd from MillKing dairy, mussels with Pernod and fennel confit, frites with garlicky aioli, polenta made with local corn from Boggy Creek. I think I also recall fried green tomatoes with harissa, a plate of steak frites, and a cucumber salad.
We laughed and talked about the silly details of our evening. Reviewing the dance steps performed all evening in order for the restaurant to run smoothly is always funny, especially after you're out of the weeds and sitting down for the first time in hours. Christa demonstrated what she perceives to be "the only proper way to eat frites," which is to dip one in Dijon mustard, then another in our sweet TFB mustard, and stick them simultaneously into one's mouth. And through it all we enjoyed the bottle of wine that Betty finally settled on after thorough consideration - the 2011 Premier Cru Burgundy by Philippe Gavignet. Its elegance and balance made it an admirable complement to both the fare and the company.
This week, in Betty's absence, I've been reminded of how much I enjoy her quirky sense of humor, bold sartorial sensibility, and our shared love of wine. We will all miss her for the coming few weeks, but look forward to her return in September. In the meantime, Whitney is stepping in as lead server before a fall adventure of her own. Come visit us both this weekend. We'll have a Seville-style gazpacho on special, featuring late summer tomatoes from Tecolote Farm, cucumbers from Boggy Creek, plus lots of extra virgin olive oil and sherry wine vinegar.
PS - A number of you have inquired after the return of the Texas French Bread Paulée dinners, a community table feast focused on sharing wine with friends, old and new. Well, stay tuned an announcement soon - that's all we'll say for now.