5/18/2012 02:42:00 PM

The Best Things We Ate Last Night: L2O’s Rhône Valley Wine Dinner

Once a month, the private back dining room of L2O hosts a wine dinner highlighting the varietals of a specific region, pairing them with dishes from chef Matthew Kirkley. The occasion is limited to a single table holding eight people - think Grub With Us for the upwardly mobile.

We had the honor taking a seat at this elite table last night for the Rhône Valley wine dinner, and needless to say, we learned a lot.

The evening started with whites, which makes sense at a seafood restaurant. As we took a sip to pair with the fruits de mar canapé (literally hollowed-out balls of cucumber, cantaloupe and honeydew filled with seafood), we noticed the wine was not chilled. Our host for the evening, wine director Richard Hanauer, explained that fine white's crisp flavor is so refreshing that it does not need to be chilled.

Next we moved onto rosé and a mussel tart, followed by tuna tartare with avocado that resembled a freshly cut watermelon, but tasted like the tender fish. Two different rosés were poured. While rosé pairs well with most dishes, the lighter/younger ones are more food-friendly.

The meal progressed into another white with a bouillabaisse and then reds paired with pigeon and foie gras. As the complexity and depth of flavors in the dishes increased, the less expensive wines became better pairs.

The meal ended, as it should, with chocolate and a dessert wine. Staring at 12 empty glasses, we could not pick one wine or dish that stood above the rest. Each one was innovative, beautifully plated but elegantly simple. Without further adieu, here's a slideshow of everything we ate last night at L2O.

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