Wow! What a meal.

First off- I’m not a huge fan of French food. Give me Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese or Chinese any day before French (except the bread).

I’m also not a fan of pretentious. When my agency helped launch Pacchia 12 years ago- we wrote the tagline “No reservations- No pretensions” and it was one of the most successful independent restaurant launches in Dayton.

So- tonight, when I took my parents out for my Dad’s 80th birthday- I thought carefully about my choice of great local independent restaurants. Since my favorites Blue Moon and Eclipse are now no longer- and the maître d’ from Blue Moon, Daniel Warner, is now in the same position (23 Mar 07 update) at L’Auberge– I decided to give the classic restaurant a chance to change my mind.

And change it, they did.

Yes, you need to wear a tie and jacket in the main dining room- not a huge problem for most of us, and reservations are preferred. But, for the same or less money than you would spend at one of the upscale chains- Carvers, Flemmings or even J. Alexanders and Cheesecake Factory- you will get a find dining experience that is unmatched in Dayton.

From the Versace plates, to the funky silverware, and the beautiful hand blown, truffle oil decanters on each table- you will realize that this ain’t just a restaurant, it’s a total dining experience.

They offer a fixed price chef’s tasting menu with 4 courses for $55. We opted to go ala carte instead. The service was perfect, Joseph, the owner- stopped by the table to chat, and time stood still as we relaxed and enjoyed food served as art and soul- instead of being fed and watered.

My parents have traveled much of Europe- and eaten in some pretty well known restaurants- they agreed, that this was a memorable meal, delivered to perfection. Before you go out to PF Changs, or Longhorn, or some other chain- just think about if you will experience something you’ll never forget. Then put a price on it- for just a few dollars more- treat yourself to one of the last, true fine dining experiences around- and let me know if you have the same regrets I’m having right now- that for the last 22 years- I’ve only thought of L’Auberge for special occasions- and not just for when I felt like something special.

It’s so important that we keep our independent restaurants in business- especially, the ones so worthy of our patronage. Try it- I guarantee you’ll like it.

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