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Sunday, February 12, 2023

It is a little after 10 pm in the Pacific Ocean or 4 am Florida. Barbara and I just returned from a very nice dinner at Keller’s. I really have no desire to discuss our day at sea or anything going on in the world or even on our cruise. Instead, I am going to write purely for my own pleasure. I am reminded of the joke about a woman who looks at a man’s tiny penis and asks “who are you going to please with that little thing?” and he answered “me”. Well, I am going to please myself, maybe nobody else, by writing about what I think was the greatest restaurant in the world. It is still open and still has two Michelin stars, but in its heyday, which lasted several decades, it had three stars and was considered by many as being the number 1 restaurant in the entire world for both food and service.



The restaurant’s name is Taillevent. The owner was Mr. Vrinet. He was not the chef but he was the the best restauranteur I have ever encountered anywhere at any time. Dining at Taillevent was like going to a hit Broadway show. Everything was perfectly choreographed. If you finished the best roll you have ever tasted, a new one was on your plate in the blink of an eye. If your wine glass was empty, more wine was poured within a few seconds of the glass being put down.


Barbara and I have been going to Paris for over 40 years. We could never get a dinner reservation no matter how far in advance we tried. In 1988, a joint decision was made that I would run for President-Elect of The Florida Bar. Before making this momentous decision, Barbara and I visited one of my key mentors, Burton Young who was the first Jewish President in 1970.


I was not supposed to win. I was a Jewish guy from New Jersey, in a small firm who never went to school in Florida, and my very worthy opponent came from one of the most prestigious families in all of Florida and had been very active in The Bar for decades. However, I had a secret weapon——a woman named Barbara Miller, yes my Wife, ran my campaign and I did every damn thing she told me to do. Almost every family law lawyer in Florida supported me and I used that network to help me. I won, not by a landslide, but I won.


In the meantime, since the outcome of the election was far from certain, Barbara said to plan a trip to Paris, our favorite place, where I would be consoled about losing or celebrate winning. I had given up trying to get a reservation for dinner at Taillevent, but managed to get a reservation for lunch. To try to not get treated like a bum, I preordered I very good bottle of champagne. Often the subliminal message sent by doing this, helps with getting a good table etc. Keep in mind this was 35 years ago. I was 48 years old, a relative kid.


My Vrinet, the owner, personally inspected every dish that came out of his great kitchen. He watched over everything like a hawk and went from table to table. Taillevent was a mini caste system There are three rooms, the third best, the second best and the best and within each room, there are the best tables and then lesser tables.


Mr Vrinet severely limited the number of tourists. The restaurant was closed weekends and open only for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays. It was for the French connoisseurs of classical French haute cuisine and even the American Ambassador could not get in on a regular basis.


When Mr. Vrinet came to our table, for some reason he sat down with us. Barbara explained we had been trying to come for years and could not and that we were celebrating my election. He knew a lot about our legal system and the significance, at least in the legal world of being President of a major Bar.


Mr Vrinet immediately got up and brought us back a bottle of the cognac he made for himself. He gave us a special telephone number to call and told us we were welcome for dinner at any time. He did add that we might not want to come on one night, I do not remember which one, because that was the night the men brought their mistresses and he did not want Barbara to be uncomfortable.


For many years, toujour Taillevent. We always were in the best room at the best table with the best Captain Jean Marie. There was one exception when we were given the second best table and I said jokingly to the man next to me at the best table, that he was sitting at our usual table. He looked at me and said “Sir, I have eaten at this table at least once, usually twice a week for almost 20 years and travelled from Marseilles to do it”.


Why Mr Vrinet took a liking to us I will never know. When September 11 occurred, he called me personally to see what he could do to help America.


Mr. Vrinet died several years ago. Jean Marie retired. Barbara and I no longer eat the rich and extremely expensive meals we used to eat. I will go there again, I hope, probably with David who also loves it, while Barbara and Mary visit museums. David and I once ate both lunch and dinner there on the same day.


This little story is apropos of absolutely nothing. It is just a part of my past life that I felt like expressing just for me. Making memories is what it is all about.

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See you tomorrow. At least that is my plan.

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Goodnight Mrs. Calabash wherever you are

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Go Ukraine

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Wendy Kranz
Wendy Kranz
12 feb. 2023

Absolutely loved this! Thank you.


Wendy

Gilla
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