By Nicholas Harary
There’s been quite a cast of characters that have paraded through the doors of Restaurant Nicholas to work over the past 11 years.
Wall Streeters on the line, transitioning from high-paying jobs they hate to lesser paying jobs they love, a professional comedy writer, a female competitive motocross racer and an amateur inventor have all worked here (ask Dom about his Dip Chip Clip).
People have earned countless degrees, fallen in love, gotten married and started families. The stories are endless. None of these characters is as interesting or beloved as one of our current captains, Bill. Bill’s been in the restaurant business longer than I have been alive and is as old school as they come. He’s always reminiscing about serving Frank Sinatra and Phil Rizzuto. That talk goes right over the heads of most of my staff, “Phil Rizzuto, who’s that? Does he tweet?” Yeah, right. Scooter liked Bill so much he once gave him a shout out for the birth of his daughter during a Yankee game on WPIX-Channel 11. Next time you are in the restaurant, ask him about it. Just make sure you come with plenty of time before your reservation.
There’s a reason why I value Bill the way I do. He goes out of his way to do the right thing, all the time, without being reminded. He doesn’t do it for the attaboy, he does it because it’s right. Last week, Bill drove a guest’s leftovers home, 30 minutes out of his way, because they had forgotten them at the restaurant. The only reason I found out is because I walked in on some of my younger employees busting Bill’s chops for missing post-shift drinks to make the delivery. It never occurred to Bill to tell me, he just did it because it was the right thing to do. I reminded the new-school guys that there was a time that doing things the right way was the only way. People did not concern themselves with money or glory, but cared only about the pride that goes with a job well done. If more guys acted like Bill, things would go a lot smoother in life. But that’s not so easy. They broke the mold on Bill a long time ago.
The mold on old-school Bordeaux was broken a long time ago, too. Most of the Bordeaux on the market these days are dark, heady wines, loaded with oak. I get it, it’s a style that gets big scores from the critics and almost every expensive wine needs big scores to sell through. But I’ve been lucky enough to have tasted many Bordeaux from the ‘50s and ‘60s. The best of these were aristocratic, elegant wines with great complexity and fine tannins. Other than a place of origin and the grape varieties, they share very little in common with most of the Bordeaux we find today.
Château Guittot-Fellonneau is another story. This is medium-bodied Cabernet with layers of pure cassis fruit, touched by just a bit of earth, cedar and spice. Sadly, this is also the last shot at a chance to taste what made Bordeaux famous. 2005 was the last vintage of the estate, Guy Constantin, the longtime proprietor, retired in 2006 with no heirs to continue his work. It’s really a shame but talk about going out on top. 2005 might be his best vintage ever so don’t miss this treasure from the Left Bank.
Château Guittot-Fellonneau was just a 4-hectare estate in the village of Macau, right on the border of Margaux. For many years, Guy Constantin farmed his tiny plot of cabernet and merlot vines rooted in the gravelly soil famous for producing sophisticated, long-living wines. Guy farmed naturally and made his wine without any new oak. When he retired in 2006, he sold the estate to neighboring Château Cambon la Pelouse and slowly allocated the balance of his last vintage, the great 2005, to his longtime customers. It’s the perfect complement with classic dishes, such as a rack of lamb.
Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.
In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store (www.restaurantnicholas.com). Chef Harary’s long-lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.