When French-trained chef Mark Monette of Flagstaff House in Boulder took the restaurant’s trademark Chateaubriand off the menu, diners raised such an outcry he had to put it back.
But that didn’t stop him. Influenced by Julia Child in his early years and a follower of the fresh-is-best movement sweeping California and the West, Monette was determined to change the menu at the restaurant his father owned since 1971.
So he tried again. This time, he eliminated the classic starter, French Onion Soup.
“I got rid of it,” he said. “It was our best-selling soup. It was delicious, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.”
He took a menu known for steak and lobster and added foie gras, pork belly and veal kidneys and spicy locally grown greens.
“I remember Julia saying there was nothing wrong with fat,” he said. “You never see heavy French people. They don’t over-consume.”
He followed another Child tenet – good wine enhances good food – and updated his father’s wine list as well, chuckling as he remembered its initial offerings of Mateus, Lancers and Cold Duck. Today the wine list at Flagstaff House has more than 2000 bottles and specializes in top-end wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux and California.
“She changed the whole culture of dining,” Monette said.