How to be Fancy, with La Belle Vie

As a Christmas present, former FDC guest star Jane White gave me a gift card to La Belle Vie. The gift came with the requirement that Jane had to be invited to come with when I went (reasonable). For those not in the know, La Belle Vie is the fancy restaurant in the Twin Cities. Extravagant menu. French as hell. Hurtful towards the ol’ wallet. As I sat through my experience at La Belle Vie, I began to take note of what exactly it was that made it so fancy. These seemed to be the keys:

  1. Different Colored Napkins: When we first sat down, our server (Seth), offered to exchange the white napkin for a black one. I was flabbergasted, and I don’t use that word lightly (or at all, really). I politely refused at first, but spent the remainder of the meal wondering if I should have swapped out. I almost asked as we were getting our check and thought better of it. I really wanted that napkin. I still do.
  2. Small Plates: You know those commercials where they set a platter down in front of someone, and then they remove the lid and there’s just a tiny bit of food there? This was that kind of place. Enough to have a bite or two, be wowed by what the chef had created, and then wish you were rich enough to come back for more. Having the food plated on a very large dish also seemed to be crucial.
  3. Reductions: Most of the food came with a type of reduction. Red wine reduction…ummm…other kinds of reductions. The point is, you have to have them. The word “reduction” also fit with the theme of small plates.
  4. Many Courses: Don’t think we were going hungry here. This was an eight course meal. Being overwhelmed is being fancy. The amount of different flavors and textures you get in an eight course meal is really really fun.
  5. Change Fork Sizes: As if Napkingate weren’t enough, every time our we finished a course, the silverware was cleared and replaced with silverware of a slightly different size. I started to think that this was the 1%’s way of playing mind games with the commoners that dared enter their restaurant. WELL GOOD JOB, LA BELLE VIE, I WAS SUFFICIENTLY PUT IN MY PLACE.
  6. Hire Ninjas: At one point Seth dropped one of our empty plates, but caught it all in the same motion, almost as if it were choreographed. He described another time when he caught a plate on the point of his shoe. It was like that inevitable clatter of dropped plates or silverware that happens most nights out at a restaurant was punishable by death. Even dropping things at the fanciest restaurants has that extra je ne sais quoi.
  7. Well-Coordinated Wait Staff: It was pretty insane how quickly our plates were cleared after we finished each course, leaving a nice couple minute pause before the next was delivered. The servers described everything very poetically as well. Seth was the man in general. There was also this sinister looking guy that would come out of the kitchen every few minutes to ensure La Belle Vie continued to be a well-oiled machine. He never said or did anything, but he was there, and that was enough.
  8. Obscure Architectural Knowledge About the Restaurant: Seth was full of that. It was great.
  9. Lots of Cubes: Like…how did they make everything into such perfect cubes? And why?
  10. Everything Must Be Delicious: Duh

I didn’t take any pictures, but it basically looked like this.