The staff at CenterStage chose from wines recommended by Mr. Helman, then chef Mike Dodd created a seven-course menu to complement the wines selected, says marketing director Debbie Noah. She says they're hoping to make these "wine tour" dinners a regular thing.
"Our maximum seating for the event is 60, so it's not going to be like a theater or concert setting," she says. "It will be very small and intimate. Mr. Helman is really looking forward to talking to everyone about the wines."
At Victoire Imports, Mr. Helman has specialized in importing wines from Europe and the Mediterranean for more than 30 years. He has spent considerable time in France and will share some of the history of the Bordeaux region, along with predictions of soon-to-be-released vintages. Diners may also purchase bottles or cases of the wines at a discount.
Courses include seared fois gras, smoked salmon tartlet, sparkling lemon verbena ice, a seared lamb chop entr & eacute;e, salad, a selection of French cheeses and apple-apricot tart tatin. Among the featured wines are C & ocirc;tes de Castillon 2000 by Chateau Picoron, a Margaux Jacques Boyd 2002, and Chateau Lapelletrie Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 1998.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The Bordeaux French Wine Dinner will be Thursday, April 26, at CenterStage, 1017 W. First Ave. Doors open at 6 pm, dinner begins at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $69, available at 74-STAGE.
DINING Sophisticated Rebirth & r & & r &
"The Artisan Room utilizes the concept of the master artists, with a lot of visual art," says Eric Nagano, operating partner of Cuisine Northwest, which now manages food and beverage services at the Ridpath Hotel. "In every corner, there's something to look at."
The recently opened ARTISAN ROOM has a completely new look from the former Silver Grill in the ground floor of the historic hotel. The dining room and lounge sports a cosmopolitan yet comfortable feel, with black linen-topped tables spaced around the room that's surrounded by large classic and contemporary paintings, statuary and bookcases. An elevated bar/lounge occupies a corner, while a comfy waiting area is dotted with black leather seating. A wine cellar off the entry is enclosed with ironwork.
"It's a culinary lounge," Nagano explains. "The food is designed around the d & eacute;cor, with Old-World influence and eclectic presentations."
Nagano has brought on board executive chef Gonzalo Carrillo, who worked with Nagano at the Davenport Hotel several years ago.
"We're bringing a big-city feel to the Ridpath," Carrillo says. "We want to be the trend setters. The food at Artisan is simple but sophisticated."
Breakfast items include three-egg scrambles like the New York-inspired Andy Warhol -- with smoked salmon, red onions, tomatoes, cream cheese and fresh herbs on a toasted bagel -- and Carrillo's favorite, the Rembrandt, with crab meat, asparagus, tomatoes, baby spinach and a light chive-hollandaise sauce. The extensive lunch menu features "First Impressions," like steamed clams with a Mediterranean flair and a goat-cheese tart with roasted mushrooms. Salads include field lettuce, Caesar, seafood, spinach and Cobb, while soups are a daily creation, ranging from bean and vegetable varieties to a chilled watermelon gazpacho with crab and avocado available later this spring. Main plates range from a seafood "hot pot," or bouillabaisse, to Angus beef steaks. Sandwiches include Kobe beef burgers, a club on a croissant and vegetarian mushroom-cheese bake. Inventive pastas and pizzas round out the menu, where items range from $7 to $26.
"We want to set ourselves apart and set standards," Carrillo says.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
The Artisan Room, 515 W. Sprague Ave., is open daily from 7 am-2 pm and after April 24 from 5-10 pm for dinner. Call 747-6272.