Sunday, October 4, 2009
Chanterelle's Roger Dagorn to Head to Porter House
I was greatly disheartened to hear that Chanterelle, the landmark restaurant in Tribeca, which closed recently for renovations, would not be reopening this fall as previously announced. I had been invited in June to a sort of farewell party on the restaurant's last day of business before temporarily closing. I was busy that night and had to pass on the invitation. At the time I thought it was no big deal; I would make a point of attending the reopening in the fall. Now, I deeply regret the decision.
I liked Chanterelle for many reasons. It was dignified and elegant, but not stuffy. It had standards, but not pretension. It's treated diners well. And, or course, David Waltuck is a great chef, and not the sort to go in for multiple restaurants and celebrity nonsense. But most of all, I appreciated Roger Dagorn, Chanterelle's sommelier. He was, and is, among the most informed and tasteful wine men in the city, and one of a delicate politeness rarely seen in our country and current century. At a 2007 dinner, he served me what may be the finest rose I've ever had, a Mantinia Tselepos 2004, made from the Moschofilero grape
In an era when sommeliers flit from post to post, Dagorn stayed put at Chanterelle for 16 years, allowing diners there to enjoy a certain consistency in their experiences there. He was a trailblazer in his quiet way. He stocked his cellar with small, artisanal producers in the early '90s, long before that practice became common. And he cultivated fine sake as a dinner accompaniment early on. Starting in 1999, he began putting together annual sake dinners at Chanterelle. Earlier this year, he was awarded the prestigious title of Sake Samurai in an elaborate ceremony held in Japan. He is also one of only 160-plus individuals worldwide to be designated a Master Sommelier,
New York won't be robbed of Dagorn for long. He told me he has taken the position of Beverage Director at the Porter House in the Time-Warner Building. Chanterelle had around 5,000 bottles in the cellar; Porter House has 500. I see room for growth in Columbus Circle.