In the Finger Lakes region of New York, in the Village of Skaneateles, exists the Mirbeau Inn & Spa; and inside Mirbeau, there is the most wonderful bar, at which I enjoyed two lovely dinners, over the course of three nights.

First a word about the property…  Inspired by the pastel hues that color the evening sky over Skaneateles Lake – that themselves comprised the palate favored by the great Impressionist painter Claude Monet – Mirbeau prides itself on being a little slice of Giverny, in Central New York.

And while I cannot speak to the staff in the spa, or the hotel, or even the dining room; I can tell you that the staff in the Wine Bar is particularly lovely, both literally and euphemistically.  One of our waiters (Steven) looks as though he'd been plucked from a Gaultier ad, by Pierre et Gilles; while the other (E.J.) could breeze through a go-see for Tommy Hilfiger (are you reading this, Meg DiCiurcio??).  Must be something in the water, up there, in the Finger Lakes.  Hmmm…  What?  Oh.  Right.  Mirbeau.

To start with, the fries are fantastic.  I daresay I’d pop-in just for a serving of their fries.  I know my fries (or frites, if you prefer), and I’m here to tell you that not getting the fries at Mirbeau is a crime against culinary nature.  Period.  And if you’re there, at the bar, I highly recommend that you politely ask the kitchen to whip up some homemade Thousand Island dressing (based on our best guesses, they use garlic, a dab of Dijon, and a drop of Worcestershire).  You won’t be sorry. 

But great fries do not a terrific meal make (although they can be a big part of it – and they were).  The French Onion Soup was good and tangy (albeit not served in the traditional tureen, which I found slightly peculiar), and the Caesar Salad with Grilled Shrimp was zesty with a dressing that favored lemon and garlic with just a whisper of anchovy, in the paste (which is exactly how I like it).  Also, the Fresh Berry Panna Cotta was like eating a sweet and tangy cloud.

The highlight, for me, though (even more than the fries), was definitely the Fish Tacos.  A pair of burrito-sized flour tortillas, filled with blackened Ahi, red pepper aioli, diced tomatoes, shaved lettuce, and red onion; these are worlds apart from the fish tacos served by street vendors, in Ensenada.  In a word, delicious.  Neither trying too hard nor over-seasoned, they’re just really damned good.

So, if you find yourself about a half-hour outside Syracuse, in the Village of Skaneateles (which is really on the way to nowhere, so I hope for your sake that you intended on being there), I recommend that you take some time to soak in the atmosphere at Mirbeau Inn & Spa; and while there, that you order yourself some food from the bar.  And while you’re at it, give my best to Steven.

The Wine Bar
Mirbeau Inn & Spa
Click HERE for info

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