I know everything these days in the restaurant world is whatever is hot in the NY-California mindset, from ancient grain bowls and meticulously sourced menu items to 50 kinds of pork belly. But let’s take a moment to savor the quaint notion of fine dining: French cuisine, waiters in black tie, white linen, chilled vichyssoise.
The people I work for—John and Margaret Shuff— have been going to The Gazebo for decades. It was there before Mizner Park and Max’s Grill, before everyone had a wood-fired oven, before waiters insisted on introducing themselves. They like it because it’s quiet, the service is sublime and the food is French and very, very good. All of my friends tend to think it’s a little old-fashioned, but I am here to tell you that kind of old-fashioned is starting to look very good again.
It may even be the beginning of the Next New Thing.
Last night we had cocktails to start, which appeared magically. My Scotch was robust as opposed to the kind you can read a Wall Street Journal through; John’s Manhattan was perfect. Next were two kinds of pâté (country-rustic and smooth) with crusty French bread. Plump oysters on the half shell, a tiny chilled silver cup of vichyssoise in a bed of ice chips.
There were sweetbreads, Bouillabaisse, shrimp scampi over rice pilaf. Delicate salads, sauvignon blanc, solicitous servers with French accents who addressed us as “Ma-dame.” The room was filled, but quiet, every table a private enclave of conversation, no loud music, no iPhones, no kids darting between tables.
Kathy’s Gazebo, which is what it has been called after the death of its original owner Kathy Sellas in 1997, is old-fashioned fine dining—four words that have been the kiss of death for restaurants over the past decade.
After my dinner there last night they are music to my ears. Merci, Gazebo, je vais revenir bientôt.