For expertly prepared meals in the prestigious French tradition, Le Clos is Fernandina’s own taste of Provence.
J’adore French food! A great French meal is always inspiring for food-lovers, and Le Clos, located on 2nd Street in the Historic District, is Amelia Island’s premier French restaurant. Le Clos serves delicious Provençal dishes by candlelight in a charming, intimate 1906 cottage. Chef and Owner Katherine Ewing received full degrees in both pastry and cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu and L’Ecole de Gastronomie Francaise, Ritz-Escoffier, Paris, and she trained at the Ritz Hotel, Paris, France. Julie Bundy is the restaurant’s manager, and she is an expert on wine pairing. My friend Emily and I headed over to Le Clos to celebrate her birthday, but any night is a reason to enjoy their fabulous food.
We began our meal with Le Clos’ famous Pate and a glass of 2007 Chateau de Cosse Sauterne, suggested by Julie. This was unusual for me, as I’d always considered sauterne as a dessert wine. I was happy to learn how wrong I was—and to discover Le Clos’ wonderfully eclectic wine list. Le Clos’ Pate is creamy and rich, made with pork and chicken liver, and just a hint of curry. It is served with little toasts and cornichons, which are small pickled gherkins. The Sauterne paired so well with this appetizer: the sweet, smooth wine accentuated the creaminess of the pate, without overwhelming it. I will definitely order this pairing again!
Our next course was Le Clos’ Caesar Salad, which has a wonderful, made-from-scratch dressing that is piquant from the garlic and served with freshly shredded parmesan cheese on top. The croutons are actually crumbled, which I thought was a nice touch, as they are easier to eat and I could get croutons with every bite. The salad was paired with a glass of 2010 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, a Sauvignon Blanc that is very dry, crisp, and vibrant, perfect with the Caesar salad. We also tasted a 2010 Whispering Angel Rosé that is a well-spiced rosé, but on the lighter side, also very nice with this course.
For our entrees we decided on the Hudson Valley Duck and their special that night, Parmesan Crusted Grouper. We sampled two wines for this course. For the grouper, we tried the 2009 Bouchard Pere & Fils Pouilly Fuisse, a very perfumed, silky and elegant wine, perfect with the fish. For the duck, a 2007 Chateau Haut-Beausejour Saint Estephe was recommended. It was a richly colored, deep red wine, and also made an excellent pairing. The grouper is served with lovely, light and fluffy potatoes, tomatoes and capers, and a soy ginger reduction that is blended with a citrus beurre blanc. Add to that a wonderful crust on the fish and it really took this dish to another level—it was heavenly!
As for the duck, it has always been one of my favorite dishes at Le Clos—and it was just fabulous: seared to perfection and served with mushrooms, garden vegetables, and chive whipped potatoes. One of my favorite things about Le Clos is how they serve their food in the best French tradition: the vegetables are julienned and perfectly cooked, and the potatoes just so fluffy —I don’t know how they do it! With such attention to every detail, the focus is on the whole plate, not just the meat and sauce.
For our dessert, we had a very simple dish: Vanilla Ice Cream with Homemade Caramel Sauce. Our wine was a Bouchaine Bouche d’Or Chardonnay, a surprising treat. Bouche d’Or, or “taste of gold,” refers to the amber color and sweet essence of this wine. The ice cream and sauce was a fine end to our rich and satisfying meal.
Be sure to check out Le Clos’ charming new garden area. It’s a lovely place to enjoy a very special meal—for a special occasion or not—in the best French tradition.