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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2 Responses

  1. Phillip Ranly March 19, 2007 / 9:06 am
    Very cool. I’ve been wanting to check this place out. I’m definitely pleased Dayton has a restaurant of this caliber.

    Not to be complainy but I have two suggestions for them. 1. Get a website that’s functional and attractive – that thing is terrible. 2. Find a better location. Maybe the location is fine but the building’s exterior is not a treat to look at plus I always like to see a good restaurant located in the city if possible.

    Otherwise, I’m sure they’re top notch in every way and look forward to finding out for myself!

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  2. PhotoJim March 19, 2007 / 3:11 pm
    I agree, they need to do something about their web site.

    Perhaps it’s just me, but a good place to start would be with the photography of their restaurant – both exterior and interior.

    First impressions are everything, and that’s more true today than ever before.

    It looks like they already had some acceptable images, however, I think whoever designed the site butchered the JPEG’s.

    I’d love to help them out. I spoke with Joseph about this about two years back when they were finishing much of their renovations, but nothing came of it. He (or the marketing/web design firm) obviously hired someone, but it’s not the type of work that I would put in my portfolio.

    My guess is that Joseph has to balance himself out due to business necessity amongst the country club crowd, and well, that probably doesn’t help me much.

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