Once in a great while, you can find a first-class family-run restaurant in which it is possible to arrive early, before many other patrons, and chat with the owner. You order a good bottle of wine, and you let the owner create for you a meal that is better than anything you would have picked from the menu. Bistro Le Crillon is such a place. The owner sells wine, and the wine list is an inch thick with selections from small vineyards. We settled on a 2009 Bordeaux. The owner set us up with a plate of melon and prosciutto, a Caprese salad, and duck terrine with homemade mustard, all outstanding. After that, we split a rack of lamb, succulent but left in the oven perhaps a minute too long. Dessert was a Pavlova, which was a special: soft meringue cookie with berries and whipped cream. The French bread is made on the premises, and it comes to the table hot, crusty, and buttery. The flower arrangement on the table consisted of six yellow rose buds, really beautiful. This may be my favorite special-occasion restaurant, in large part because it makes me feel special.
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