I had heard that Le Dome was a bit stuffy, yet our waiter had a friendly approach. But one funny episode occurred: When the 1980 Clos Pignan Reserve came to the table, the bottle was coated with a layer of dust. That's fine in wine cellars, but on a linen tablecloth?
We asked our waiter to clean the bottle. He apologized and did so without hesitation.
"They," he said, nodding toward the front of the restaurant, "want the bottles delivered like this."
This guy was eager to please, enthusiastic about what the wine list offered, relatively knowledgeable about the selection. His manner of service was next to perfect. Combine that with good (not great) glassware, a list that's easy to read because all the vintages are listed, and pricing that is generally very fair, and you have a treat.
If , that is, you are a wine lover and know a little about wine.
Among the 500 (!) selections you'll find some very well-priced little gems, but most of these are from the lesser-known regions of the wine world--Muscadet, the Loire, the Rhone, Alsace. It would be best to have a wine lover along to ferret out the great values.
The list appears to have been assembled from a variety of sources (including some wine that may have been culled from private collections). Thus you'll see bottles with vintage dates like 1923, 1940 and 1943--curious vintages for a wine list when they seem isolated, one of this, one of that.
The best thing about this list is its breadth, and the creativity. There are eight half-bottles, all of which are dessert wines, 17 magnums and some larger bottles, too. And beyond the vertical collection of Cabernet Sauvignons, some genuine values are hidden:
--Best wine: 1947 Clos des Lambrays, H. Cosson, $145.
--Best red wine value: 1980 Clos Pignan Reserve, J. Reynaud, $30. We ordered this wine and it was spectacular, very rich, showing good development, and with a long, complex aftertaste.
--Best white wine value: 1980 Navarro Gewurztraminer, $15. If you have never had a Navarro Gewurztraminer with bottle age, this will be a fun experience.
--Other sleepers: 1961 Chateau Montrose, $150; 1970 Chateau Montrose, $75; 1975 Chateau Les Ormes de Pez, $75 for a magnum; 1961 Chateau Lynch-Bages, $150; 1979 Chateau Meyney, $20.
A few wines were priced too high, but in general, pricing was fair.
There were minor bobbles, one of them in our favor. The white wine we ordered was 1982 Louis Metaireau Muscadet, Grand Mouton at $17. The 1984 came. Fine. It's better wine than the '82. Also, a red wine we ordered was out of stock.
Another problem was that some of the better Burgundy producers (such as Henry Jayer) are represented by wine from off vintages (like 1977), and from the good vintages (like 1978) you see some producers' names whose quality is erratic.
No matter, though. The list has a lot of good stuff from which to choose. And the nice thing is that there are dozens of wines on the list at $15 or so, so you'll be able to find something to enjoy without breaking the budget. And if you can't find anything, the waiters appear knowledgeable and eager to help.
Or, if you'd rather, bring your own: corkage is $12 a bottle.