230 Salt Point Turnpike (Rte 115)
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Phone: 845 473 2525
Dinner Tuesday through Saturday
This restaurant is currently closed.
Poughkeepsie’s le Pavillon first opened its doors in 1980. Its hard to believe, but it has been thirty years. It is named after New York’s le Pavillon, the iconic Manhattan eatery which closed in 1971, credited with introducing fine French dining to the United States after the 1939 World’s Fair. I recall the buzz surrounding the opening at the time (in 1980, not 1939!), although I don’t think the term “buzz” was in vogue back then. The proprietor and chef at the new restaurant was Claude Guermont, who had made his reputation locally as an instructor at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park. He was leaving the classroom to strike out on his own.
This wine group has collected monthly at le Pavillon for almost twenty years, sharing meals, and stories, really bad jokes, and the contents of their wine cellars. I am fortunate to be asked to join the group on occasion and I do so as often as my schedule permits. Some of these afternoon soirees have turned into most memorable occasions, as Claude’s specially prepared meals are always worth taking an afternoon off for. Ostensibly, the reason for the lunch is to sample the wines selected for the day’s tasting, and the crew that assembles here is unfailingly generous with their cellar offerings. The group’s original focus was on Burgundy, but they frequently venture into new territory. The group consists of eight or ten diners, who are asked to bring one bottle representative of the day’s theme. It could be based on single vintage from a specific region, or as was the case Wednesday, white Burgundies, Premier Cru or better. You could show up with a village wine, but you would not be invited back. Claude is made aware of the wine selections for the day, and prepares a course to match each wine. We will usually end up with eight participants and eight bottles of wine. That sounds like a lot, but spread over four hours it all works out well. Everyone gets four ounces of every wine. I arrived a little early on Wednesday, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with Claude, who met me in the parking lot as I pulled in.
We finished with a 97 Bertagna Vougeot Blanc, the oldest wine at the tasting, and a 2002 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne, a Cote de Beaune Grand Cru. Our main course of roast chicken arrived as we were all nodding, and smiling in agreement, that the Corton Charlemagne was a standout, and well worth waiting for. We were pleasantly surprised that none of the wines – despite, for whites, their advancing age – were corked or past prime. All were most enjoyable and still in good shape. I suspect that none had been stored in back of the bedroom closet. After three decades in the kitchen at