Beaujolais Nouveau isn’t just another French wine on the shelves of Whole Foods. It’s a fête that happens on the third Thursday of November each year, precisely when Beaujolais bottles are uncorked around the world.
The red wine is made from Gamay grapes in France, and it’s only fermented for a few weeks before being shipped off for this annual fete of merrymaking. The best part of these celebrations is that the wine is free-flowing.
Bistro du Coin is typically ground zero for District Beaujolais-ing, and there are always plenty of other restaurants serving up the wine, as well. The Embassy of France is up there on the party circuit, and of course, BYT offers an option for the drunks.
I decided to class it up that particular Thursday and head to a little known French spot on H Street Northeast, Le Grenier. I had stumbled upon it for brunch nearly a year ago and had always vowed to return for a proper meal. Now was my French fete’d chance.
The gorgeous spot thankfully had reserved a candlelit table for me and a girlfriend, as the restaurant was jam-packed with revelers. As soon as we sat down, our Parisian server offered us the Beaujolais, as bottles were completely complimentary with dinner on this momentous occasion.
Why yes, we’ll take a bottle, then (“vich you really should gulp,” advised our waiter). And off we went, enjoying the red, ordering away from the adorable composition notebooks that hold the menus, and admiring the creative decor: birdcages and drumsets on the walls? Fabulous.
First up, piping hot French bread and a selection of fromages and charcuteries. We ate so much we didn’t know how we could possibly go on. Ah yes, more wine! We both went for beef (it’s so tempting when it’s chilly outside). I had the braised beef with toasted chestnuts.
My friend ordered the bavette à l’échalote. Or rather, as we typically know it, the steak and frites. The grilled beef hanger came with shallots and a gorgeous red wine sauce. The fries were tiny, hot, and perfect for dipping into that spectacular sauce.
OK, OK, now we’re thorough stuffed. More wine! And then the dessert came. But of course, the dessert menu is nearly as long as the dinner menu. Sweet crepes, crèpes flambées, and glaces. Oy, so many French pastry confections. We chose a crème brûlée and a mousse au chocolat that belongs only in heaven.
Our Beaujolais celebration was a success. Not just because we imbibed a bottle of the best stuff, but we had it with phenomenal food, as well. Now that’s a fête worth toasting to. Santé!