The Fifth Floor, San Francisco

Astunning meal prepared by French Chef Laurent Gras, accompanied by the knowledgeable as well as impeccable wine service of Belinda Chang made for a super evening at this high-class restaurant just off of Union Square. The meal began with gorgeous kumomoto oysters from the Hog Island oyster farm north of San Francisco, and gooey duck clams (which were good, but not especially memorable). A striped bass sushi style was terrific, as was the balance of the meal, including fabulous pibales, baby eels that resemble angel hair pasta, the lobster and foie gras, and the pigeon and raviolis.

It was a Burgundy evening, except for a gorgeous bottle of Salon Champagne. The somewhat oily 2000 Domaine Ramonet Bâtard Montrachet did not have the finish I expected from this grand cru producer, but the wine was outstanding. However, it was blown away by Leroy's 1995 Chevalier Montrachet, a sumptuous, still young, remarkable white Burgundy loaded with intensity and underlying acidity. It appears to have another 15-20 years of life ahead of it. Ampeau's 1979 Meursault Perrières was also beautiful. Although fully mature, it revealed no oxidation in its hazelnut, honeysuckle, and buttered citrus personality.

The red wines included a delicious, elegant, light, fruity, fully mature 2000 Roumier Chambolle Musigny Les Amourouses that was pure cherries, strawberries, and underbrush. That was followed by a hard, dry, angular, medium ruby-colored 1998 Richebourg from A. Gros. The finish was pinched and compressed, with rather nasty tannin (which I suspect will never age out). While the 1995 Mazis Chambertin from Leroy was spectacular, it was almost painfully young to drink. Nevertheless, it was concentrated and powerful, almost like the blood of the grape. It's an impressive effort, but requires another 5-10 years of cellaring.

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