Imagine this: You're dining in a restaurant and the lights go out on the whole entire block. If you're the chef and owner, what do you do?
Last year, Chris Williams of Lucille's found himself in that perplexing situation. "It was a Friday or Saturday night and there was an explosion that took down the entire power grid on the block," he recalls. "And so the servers are looking at me, saying 'So I guess we're closed, right?'"
"I told them 'No, we're staying open' -- that we would just keep on serving. All we had on was the emergency light. So we get some candles, we put them on the few tables that were already seated, and I told them anybody comes in, get a candle for them."
"In the kitchen, all we had were candles and the light from the stove. We had to work by touch and sound. Things that you never pay attention to -- your senses are heightened. Throughout the restaurant, the conversations lowered, and it became more intimate. Servers were writing off tickets, and sticking them above a candle so that I could read it. Some of them burned, so they had to be written again," he remembers.
"It was a magical moment," he says wistfully. "I thought to myself, 'We're not gonna stop, we're gonna cook regardless.' And all you could hear was this muted conversation, the clanking of metal and knives and the plates. There were no cell phones out. Everyone was focused on the plate and the person they were there with. It was beautiful, it was better than any background music, just people enjoying themselves."
Williams says that he just wanted to bring that feeling back. So for his upcoming wine dinner -- the second that he's held at his restaurant to date -- he's going to do it all by candlelight.
Inspired by a recent trip to New York City, when he splurged so that he could taste food by the city's masters, the special lights out dinner menu (provided below) will feature seven French courses with French wine pairings, and will cost $98 per person. The dinner will take place on Tuesday, December 9, at 7 p.m., and will be conducted in the European style, with all the tables pushed together into one big communal dining table. There will only be one seating, limited to 60 people, by reservation only by calling 713-568-2505.
Lights Out Dinner Wine Menu
Oyster & Sabayon James River Oyster/ Tapioca/ Caviar Domaine Rives- Blanques Blanquette de Limoux
Escargot with Bone Marrow Bordelaise Burgundy Escargot/ Morels/ Ciabatta Domaine Faverot Blanc, Côtes du Luberon 2013
Red Mullet avec Palette d'Ail Doux Parsley Coulis/Garlic Chip/Parsley Salad Domaine Rives-Blanques "Occitania" 2012
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Rabbit Roulades Foie Gras/Rabbit Jus/ Mustard Domaine Julien Masquin "Humeur" Rouge, Côtes-du-Rhône 2013
Roasted Sweet Breads Braised Endive/Applewood Bacon/Black Truffle/Foie Gras Château Valentine Rouge, Côtes de Provence 2011
Duo de Boeuf Venison Loin/Short Ribs/Bone Marrow Crusted Raddicchio/Sweet Potato Dauphine Domaine du Banneret, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011
Fruit avec Fromage Compressed Fruit/Assorted Cheese/Accoutrements Domaine Baur Gewurztraminer "Fronemberg" 2012