By David Minsky
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You pay a fixed price of $80 per person; wine from Fyhrie's sophisticated list of 32 bottles is extra. But it's worth shelling out (come on, you're celebrating) for these Napa or Sonoma cabs and French Bordeaux, priced from $50 for a Château Roquefort 2005 to $290 for a Château Haut-Brion 2002 Grand Cru Pessac Leognan. A Turnbull 2004 Merlot, which retails around $30, is priced at $75. And the champagne that begins your meal is a fine freebie — it really smoothed out our rough edges, along with a fairly nondescript little mouthful of crab cake in a pool of sweet sauce.
The menu Fyhrie has chosen is disarmingly retro. I imagine it's the kind of meal financier John Clay and his wife ate regularly in the mid-1960s. Lobster bisque. Romaine salad. Châteaubriand. Frenched lamb chops rubbed with herbs. Elk venison steak in green peppercorn sauce. Roast duck à l'orange. Poached pear. Crêpes suzette. Fyhrie, tall and lithe, has a hushed, graceful tableside manner as soothing as a deep-tissue massage; when he details the delights in store for you, you can't help but unwind. By the time he's gotten into an intimate description of how the chef roasts the lamb, you're pretty much won over to his old-school version of fine dining.
Based on a single visit, I'd rate the cuisine at around a B+, but I don't think you really go to Six Tables for a cutting-edge foodie experience. The lobster bisque, laced with sherry and redolent of honest-to-God lobster stock and heavy cream, was some of the best I've ever eaten. A warmly spiced winter squash soup emanating the scent of cinnamon and clove like an ode to autumn was delicious too (you get a choice here). Romaine salad followed, tasting about like you'd expect, sprinkled with baked, herby croutons and cherry tomatoes. A basket of warm, slightly sweet and nutty multigrain bread, marvelous stuff, accompanied the greens.
A spicy peppercorn sauce didn't overwhelm our elk chop. Although what you see on most menus is farm-raised these days, elk has an assertive flavor that distinguishes it from our factory-fattened beef; it retains the memory of wilderness in its lean profile. Roasted medium-rare, paired with a trio of buttery vegetables (ribbon-sliced carrots, asparagus, and tiny French green beans), it couldn't have been improved. The same was true of my gorgeous little lamb chops. Six of them, rubbed with herbs de Provence, made a meal that would have handily fed King Henry VIII. I took most of them home.
The cheese course, though, didn't impress — these dull French fromages, including a mild cheddar cut into flimsy triangles like something for a kid's lunch box, verged on ridiculous. Better-quality cheeses, imported and local, please. Poached spiced pear at the center of the delicate dessert plate had a subtle, grainy texture and deeply layered sweetness.
A restaurant this exclusive and expensive ought to set its orange liqueur-drenched crêpes suzette alight right at your table for a big-wow finale. Almost no one does anymore — is it some weird insurance or fire-code thing? Or just too much trouble? My rule of thumb: Don't offer a flaming dish (suzette, bananas Foster, Greek saganaki) that you don't intend to set a match to in full view of we who are paying an arm and leg for it. Half the point of these things is the spectacle, after all. It doesn't matter if you're big or small: I still want my 15 seconds of oooooooohh.