There was a time when our Wednesday night dinner crew, who drive from Ulster and Dutchess counties, would meet weekly in Kingston for dinner and cocktails. In the 1990’s one of our brethren had taken a job with the Shandaken police department. To accommodate him we would meet in Kingston, which was centrally located (once you added Shandaken into the mix). Grumpy told us he had taken a job as Chief of Detectives, but we later found out that Shandaken only had one detective, and he was it. In any event his new employment turned out to be a most serendipitous event, as we were introduced to what would become one of our favorite stops – Le Canard Enchaine, a traditional French bistro on Fair Street. When Le Canard opened fifteen years ago, it quickly became the after work destination for area office workers – a motley collection of lawyers, bankers, brokers, detectives, realtors, and anyone else looking for a nice place to have a cocktail, talk politics, and take advantage of “bar snacks” that typically included pates, platters of clams and oysters, and duck confit. No need to have dinner with bar snacks like that, which Jean Jacques (the proprietor) finally figured out and scaled back on the goodies. It’s amazing how successful you can be if you’re willing to go broke doing it.Ah, the good old days. It really was “the place to go”. Jean Jacques tried to replicate the program in other locations – another Kingston venue, South Beach Florida, and most recently in Albany – but lightning doesn’t strike twice. As I have said in prior posts, success comes with some magic combination of place, and space, and people, and menu. Sometimes it clicks; most of the time it doesn’t. There will only be one Le Canard Enchaine.
But I was happy to see that Le Canard is still going strong. The bar, empty on Sunday afternoon, still looks inviting and waiting for a party to get started. I hope to be there again soon to join in.