Wherein I become a restaurant critic... 11:06 p.m. 2003-04-09

This is an entry from 12/8/02:

Tonight, as part of my Christmas present, my husband took me out to Gaby's, a restaurant in Newnan. I had read about the restaurant about 2 years ago, in Atlanta magazine, I think, and was immediately intrigued. The owner is Patrick Terrail, who used to run Ma Maison, a swanky and famous restaurant in Hollywood frequented by the like of Orson Welles, Don Rickles, the Gabor sisters - all of the 70's famous beautiful people. He has been in Georgia since the Olympics, is now married and opened up his restaurant in Hogansville first, then moved to Newnan.

I was reminded of the restaurant when I read another article in the Air Tran flight magazine, and thought of trying to get Mom and my sister to go down with me. Instead, some former classmates of my husband's decided to go down to a bar in Newnan to hear the band of one of the old Briarcliff crowd, and I grabbed that chance for us to go on down and eat there.

We made reservations for 7:00, but were running a little late, so I called on my cell phone, and the guy who answered said that that was okay, and was even better. I wondered if that was a bad sign. We got a little mixed up with the directions. I had to call twice, and am pretty sure that Patrick himself was the one giving directions. We finally got there, and were seated at a table in a corner.

Now, I have to say that the service was a bit slow. There was one waiter, it looked like, plus a bus boy to assist. Probably Monsieur Terrail was the only one in the kitchen. Still, we asked again for our drinks, and wondered aloud where our soup and salad were. The waiter brought my husband his coffee, and explained that the soup was going to take 12 minutes, and the rest would be out when it was ready. He also brought out a square of complimentary quiche with salsa for the two of us.

We got out first courses, and I got my Kir Royale, and asked for some bread. The bread was interesting - obviously home-made - mostly a rosemary bread, with a couple of pieces of sesame bread.

The main dishes finally came. I had ordered another Kir, and the waiter informed us that it would be complimentary (I guess because of the wait?). My husband ordered a rack of lamb, and it was beautifully cooked, and served with crispy potatoes and green beans - fairly straightforward. I ordered the Musgovy duck with peaches and stir-fried vegetables with rice. It was very good, but a tad heavy, with all of the raisins and peaches in the stir-fry. I also would have gone lighter with the sauce. But the duck itself was awesome.

As we were waiting for our check, M. Terrail himself came out and made the rounds. The couple next to us had just gotten engaged, so he came over our way. I answered his greeting in French, so he asked what we had (in French) and I got a little stuck, looking for the word "canard." He immediately asserted that my date had had "l'agneau" (lamb) and asked how it was. Of course, we said it was great.

He was very friendly and charming, and when we walked out of the door, he followed us out, kissed my hand, and invited us to return for New Year's Eve. I was ready to say, "sure!" and would gladly go down to Newnan on a daily basis to speak French and have my hand kissed. I am going to look into the classes that he offers. The woman sitting next to us said that he holds the classes (demonstrations, really) in different people's houses, and you get to see some great houses and kitchens that way.

For now, I will just go to the restaurant website Gaby's Cafe and dream of renting Patrick and Jackie (his wife)'s house in the South of France.... I also spent some time reading the sample pages of his book, called A Taste of Hollywood: the Story of Ma Maison. on Amazon.com.

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