Earning a Michelin star is such a dreamed recognition for gourmet chefs all over. In 2005, Michelin crossed the Atlantic and their prestigious inspectors started reviewing fine-dining restaurants in New York, San Francisco and the Bay Area, and Chicago. It requires a consistent, high-level performance in both the kitchen and the front room. “If they arrive in Charlottesville, Fleurie is likely to be one of the places they will look at,” explains Erin Scala, wine director at Fleurie, the temple of sophisticated French cuisine on the Downtown Mall.
Fleurie is a special occasion restaurant, with crisp white table cloths and high end service, suited for memorable tasting menus and celebrations. Even the front room staff do motivational meetings before patrons step in because they are chasing excellency. Fleurie is the big brother of Petit Pois, a more relaxed place also owned by Brian Helleberg, an appreciated chef committed to French tradition and local sourcing. “Fleurie means to blossom and it is also a division of the Beaujolais wine region in France,” explains the down to earth chef, once mentored by a 3-star French chef.
The changing menus, as you can imagine, include all kinds of delicacies prepared by Helleberg and the chef de cuisine Matt Henson. Delicious house made Foie Grass in a brioche, lobster bisque and incredible tartare and carpaccio may open the feast. Shrimp stuffed calamari, veal sweetbreads or gnocchi with blue cheese and sweet pecans carry on the party. And more hearty plates like Scottish salmon on fennel puree with saffron potatoes, herb-crusted sea bass or roasted Angus beef tenderloin may be the mains. A delightful dessert proposal could be molten mango cake, lychee sorbet with coconut, pineapple, and balsamic-strawberry coulis.
Scala, the talented sommelier adds, “To me, wine is a simple thing- a beverage to enjoy with your meal. But it is also something that is subtly profound. When we drink wine, it might just rival Chef Brian’s cuisine as the best way to experience the bounty of the Earth.”
So we wish everybody accomplishments to celebrate at Fleurie.
Hours: Mon-Thu 5.30pm-9pm. Fri-Sat 5.30pm-10pm
Text and photo: Eduard Bayer