Everyone should have a restaurant that is saved for special occasions — not for birthdays or anniversaries or celebrations of life's small victories, but for dinners that are themselves the occasion. For me, the Palace Arms is that place, a restaurant that always makes a meal worth remembering.
When I dined there two weeks ago, I had turbot and tempura-fried bits of lobster tail on a long plate that looked as though it had been attacked by Jackson Pollock en route to my table, as well as a simple bowl of duck consommé with the best little pinky-sized morel mushrooms I've ever had in my life. My dining companions had the bison Rossini with the melting slip of foie gras on top because that was what I'd suggested they eat — mostly because that's what I wanted to eat, too, and had enjoyed at my last meal here, back in December. But I also wanted my fish and a double whiskey.
As always, just about everything was excellent (my fish was merely decent) and made even better by the room, the jacketed waiters and stewards, the sense of heavy seriousness that always attends meals here. Even the surprising refrigeration failure in the back turned into a special tableside chilling ceremony for our white wine.
Some people find the Palace Arms oppressive, but I find it refreshing, almost comforting in its coddling gravity. And though I wouldn't want to eat here every night, I am happy that I can eat here whenever I choose to — and in the process remind myself of the difference between going out to eat and going out to dine.