Commander’s Palace is expensive, right?
It can be very expensive, certainly. But it doesn’t have to be such a killer and that’s the point the landmark restaurant makes quite convincingly with its everyday prix fixe menus, which can get you a two-course lunch for less than $20 and a three-course dinner for less than $40.
Ah, but what are you drinking? That’s always the sticking point for these types of fine-dining deals. The menu might look like a bargain, but when you get to the table suddenly the pennywise plan of washing down your seared drum with iced tea doesn’t seem so appealing. Next thing you know, you’re ordering a bottle of wine and doubling your check total. Oh well.
But now Commander’s Palace is running another special on wine that tilts things more in the bargain-shopper’s favor. The restaurant is trying to move some inventory from its wine cellar, so its wine director has drafted what the restaurant calls its “Grape Nuts” wine list of special deals. It runs to more than 50 bottles, and each is available at half its original list price. So that $30 Alsatian Pinot Blanc is now $15, and that $225 Napa Cab is $112.50 (bargains are relative, after all).
“We’ve done this for years and years, but it’s sort of been under the radar before, something we offered every year to our regulars and friends,” says Dan Davis, wine director at Commander’s Palace. “It’s a way of thanking locals for coming out and dining during the hottest months of the year.”
Fewer people have been taking advantage of this locals deal lately, Davis says, so this year the restaurant is publicizing it more. You have to jump through one hoop to get this sale-priced wine list, but in the age of Groupons and such people seemed primed to play along for a deal. In this case, you have to mention the term “Grape Nuts” when you call for your reservation. Otherwise the restaurant won’t bring you the list.
The special runs through the end of September and is available anytime. Naturally, the selection will narrow as the cellar runs through this stock.
“These are great wines on this list, but as I’m planning our fall purchases these are places where I need to make some room,” says Davis.
At the end of the day, a pair of $35 prix fixe dinners and a $20 bottle of wine still adds up to a good chunk of change. But again bargains are a highly subjective matter and so are the excuses, justifications and rationales for splurging on a nice meal out.
Here’s the list from Commander’s Palace, the second price being the discounted Grape Nuts one:
LIGHT, CRISP WHITES
2007 Pierre Sparr ReservePinot Blanc, Alsace, France 30.00 15.00
2005 La Scolca Gavi Black Label Cortese di Gavi DOCG, Piemonte, Italy 85.00 42.50
2007 Pieropan Leonildo's 40th Vintage Soave Classico DOCG, Veneto, Italy 35.00 17.50
2007 Bodegas Eguren Reinares Viura, Tierra de Castilla, Spain 32.00 16.00
2007 Torres Viña Esmeralda Moscato, Catalunya, Spain 34.00 17.00
2006 Heller Estate Chenin Blanc, Carmel Valley, California 60.00 30.00
2008 Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California 75.00 37.50
2008 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California 95.00 47.50
2007 Miguel Torres Fransola Sauvignon Blanc, Penedès, Spain 75.00 37.50
2009 Kunde Family Estate Nu Unoaked Chardonnay, Sonoma, California 52.00 26.00
NEW WORLD CHARDONNAY
2005 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, California 375 mL 68.00 34.00
2006 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, California 375 mL 66.00 33.00
2006 Fess Parker Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California 375 mL 26.00 13.00
2009 Chateau Felice Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma, California 65.00 32.50
1999 Mayacamas Mount Veeder Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California 105.00 52.50
2002 Mayacamas Mount Veeder Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California 110.00 55.00
1998 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay, Monterey, California 140.00 70.00
1999 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay, Monterey, California 150.00 75.00
2005 Bindi Composition Chardonnay, Victoria, Australia 90.00 45.00
2005 François Servin Blanchot Chablis Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 190.00 95.00
2005 Domaine Hubert Chavy Meursault Premier Cru les Narvaux, Burgundy, France 375 mL 52.00 26.00
2006 Domaine Jacques Prieur Meursault Premier Cru Clos de Mazeray, Burgundy, France 375 mL 85.00 42.50
2006 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France 375 mL 78.00 39.00
2007 Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy, France 375 mL 72.00 36.00
2005 Regis Bouvier Clos du Roy Marsannay, Burgundy, France 70.00 35.00
2005 Arcadian Dierberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, California 375 mL 95.00 47.50
2004 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California 375 mL 115.00 57.50
2005 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California 375 mL 125.00 62.50
2009 Aquinas Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, California 39.00 19.50
2008 Foxen Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, California 82.00 41.00
2004 Antonin Guyon Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy, France 375 mL 55.00 27.50
2005 Antonin Guyon Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy, France 375 mL 64.00 32.00
2007 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Échézeaux Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 145.00 72.50
CABERNET, MERLOT, AND ZINFANDEL
2003 La Jota Estate Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, California 120.00 60.00
2003 Henschke Lenswood Abbot's Prayer Merlot, Adelaide Hills, South Australia 130.00 65.00
2004 Henschke Lenswood Abbot's Prayer Merlot, Adelaide Hills, South Australia 120.00 60.00
2005 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California 225.00 112.50
2004 Egelhoff Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California 196.00 98.00
1996 Château Aney Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France 100.00 50.00
2004 Château d'Armailhac Pauillac Quatrième Cru, Bordeaux, France 120.00 60.00
2003 Spring Mountain Vineyard, Elivette Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 375 mL 95.00 47.50
2005 Starlite Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California 80.00 40.00
SYRAH, GRENACHE, AND SOME OTHER STUFF
2003 Blackjack Maximus Syrah, Santa Barbara County, California 105.00 52.50
2005 Nola White Hawk Vineyard Syrah, Santa Barbara County, California 55.00 27.50
2002 Rocca Family Vineyards Syrah, Napa Valley, California 96.00 48.00
2005 Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia 140.00 70.00
2002 Shirvington Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia 105.00 52.50
2005 Michel Chapoutier la BernardineChâteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France 105.00 52.50
2003 Château Camplazens la Garrigue, Côteaux du Languedoc 38.00 19.00
2008 Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat, DOCa Priorato, Spain 60.00 30.00
2000 Oliver's Taranga Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia (Magnum) 1.5 L 225.00 112.50
2009 Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva Carmenère, Colchagua Valley, Chile 38.00 19.00