Lemaire AffairInternationally recognized fine-wine expert Filippo di Belardino brings his exuberance and passion to an exclusive wine dinner at the Jefferson Hotel March 17. It's a far cry from the green-beer bashes elsewhere on St. Patrick's Day and an opportunity to taste some of the select Tuscan Banfi wines that he represents.
"It's going to be a dinner driven by the narrator," the hotel's Ben Eubanks says of the di Belardino effect. "He is a tremendous presence with a vast experience producing fine wines, and he's extremely gregarious and entertaining."
The five-course dinner in Lemaire, prepared by executive chef Walter Bundy and sous-chefs James Schroeder and Brian Hukey, pairs wines with elegantly presented crab and tuna, duck, filet mignon and molten chocolate cake. There is limited seating; the tariff is $120 per guest, which includes tax and gratuity. Reservations at 649-4629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lemaire closes for renovations in July and is expected to reopen in October, when it will have a new name, a new design, a full-service bar (vitally important to the scene change) and a menu that's "more accessible to the local community," Eubanks says -- still reliant on local produce and artisanal suppliers but more contemporary in approach and attitude.
Lemaire's run as Richmond's fine-dining landmark has consistently earned it the five-star and five-diamond awards of travel giants Mobil and AAA. Both organizations are said to be more accepting of concept shifts in top-notch hotel restaurants they don't have to be French and formal to earn the highest rankings these days.
"We will respect the hotel's heritage," Eubanks says, "so we won't go ultra-modern, but we recognize that there is a younger presence with sophisticated preferences here. We want to be second-to-none in the region, and we actually enjoy the competition that has grown. We're happy to see so much interest in dining in Richmond."