FLX Table is not a restaurant. It is a dining experience. We’ve been hearing lots about them since they opened in 2015, and we’re die hard fans of FLX Wienery and Element Wines.
FLX Table is on every one’s lips- it has selected as the top new restaurant in the United States, one of the best wine restaurants in the world, and is now on every single list of things to do in the Finger Lakes (for a full list of accolades, check out their website). It’s a competitive sport to try to get a reservation, people are driving and flying in to eat dinner there, and the whole nation is buzzing about it.
And it’s right in your back yard, Rochester, only a short drive away.
So, what is it like to dine at FLX Table? What can you expect? Is the “Big Pimpin'” wine pairing really worth it?
Let’s start from the beginning.
When You Arrive
When you arrive, you are ushered into a secondary room with a bar top where you’re greeted by the hosts and offered the opportunity to purchase a glass of wine (food is all inclusive, wine is not), and sample some chorizo, plums, and cornichons.
We started off with a glass of Malard Premier Cru Rosé, produced in Champagne, France. Despite being a Rosé, it still had the classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier. Bright notes of strawberry, watermelon rind, and hints of floral were complemented by a bright acidity.
We sipped our bubbles as we waited for the remaining people to arrive. FLX Table does two seatings Friday and Saturday, with 12 people for each seating.
Course 1: Farmer’s Board & Champagne
Once we were all there, we were shown into the main dining room, a communal table littered with wine bottles, wood boards covered in farm fresh produce with fresh baked bread lying on top, plates with an assortment of butter and dips, and a folded up menu sharing the night’s courses.
As we nibbled on the warm bread, repeatedly smearing it with the savory anchovy dip and freshly made butter, we were given the run-down on how the wine pairing worked.
There are four levels of wine that you can choose from if you’d like to do a paired meal:
- Fun $35, these are interesting, but not overly challenging wines
- Baller $55, these are a little more uncommon and better quality
- FLX Baller $55, similar to the Baller level, but they only come from the Finger Lakes
- Big Pimpin’ $150, truly rare and uncommon wines that are from all over the world and are things you’ll likely not be able to get elsewhere
We chose the Big Pimpin’- you get to see a preview of what the Big Pimpin’ will be like, and can let them know some preferences (i.e. I don’t like sweeter wine, would love more red wines, etc.). Part of me was leaning towards the FLX Baller, given my love for FLX Wine, but we decided that we could drink those any time.
With our Farmer’s Board of vegetables, sourdough bread, spreads, dips and butters, we were given a 2007 Montagne Champagne, Bereche et Fils, a Blanc de Blanc style champagne made with only Chardonnay. The wine had delicate bubbles, notes of bread crust, pear and tapioca, with a nuttiness and medium acidity on the palate. It paired perfectly with the sourdough bread and the rich butters.
Also, when you’re doing this type of meal, it is always fun to start with a glass (or two) of bubbles– especially French bubbles.
Course Two: Mushroom
Next up was a dish of local mushrooms that were roasted and pickled, with black garlic and a tahini sauce. It was so umami and amazing, it almost tasted like meat.
I should mention here that one of the benefits of doing the Big Pimpin’, especially if you’re with someone, is that you can each do a different wine. Not only is it fun to see how different wines bring out different flavors in the food, if one of you doesn’t like a pairing you can trade.
With this course, there were two wine pairings:
1997 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Riesling Brand, Alsace Grand Cru: made from Riesling, this wine had notes of apricot, petrol and almond, and was surprisingly light with a cleansing acidity. It made the mushrooms in the food taste even more savory, and the old notes in the wine fade.
2011 F. E. Trimbach, Riesling Clos Sainte Hune, Alsace, also made from Riesling, had more fresh notes of lime and nectarine with a little petrol and a medium acidity on the palate. With the mushroom dish it became bright and clean.
Course Three: Roasted Potato
For this course, the potato was no mere tater tot, it was hunks of farm market fresh fingerling potatoes with foie gras, parsley, and the option for either white or black truffle. We did one of each to try the differences (and I mean, COME ON, when are you ever going to get that option again?!?). The dish originally had hazelnuts in it, but since I can’t process nuts (weird food intolerance), mine was without.
With this we were lucky that we went with another couple who were also doing Big Pimpin’ wines, because they gave each of us something different:
1999 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape Boisrenard from Rhone, France, a mix of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, which had notes of black fruits like plum and cherry, hints of smoke, with a medium plus acidity and a drying tannin. (I forgot to write notes on this one paired with food…)
1998 Roberto Voerzio, Nebbiolo, “Vignaserra”, Langhe, Piedmont. This wine had a nose of black fruits, black better and leather, with big acidity and a nice easy tannin. Paired with the food, everything tasted richer and more savory, playing up the truffle notes.
2013 Jean Noel Gagnard, Batard Montrachet Grand Cru, Gevery-Chamberltin, a white Burgundy (which means Chardonnay); it had wonderful notes of cooked apple and vanilla, with a bright acidity and lingering butteriness. It made the intense and rich potato dish lighter and brighter.
2013 Dugat-Py, Petite Chapelle-Premier Cru, Gevrey-Chambertin, a red Burgundy (which means Pinot Noir), which had notes of cherry, leather, and smoke, with a surprisingly chewy tannin. With the food, this wine tasted young and bright, with the smoke complementing the umami of the truffle.
Course Four: Lamb Terrine
To say a terrine is like a meatloaf, is to say that a Aston Martin is like a car… (James Bond’s car to be precise). The Lamb Terrine was served with a ratatouille of vegetables, black olives, goat’s milk, and seaweed- an insane and amazing combination.
This was served with two wine options for our group:
1975 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, which had notes of sea salt, black berry and cherry jam, and hints of nutmeg, with a nice acidity and bold tannin. With the lamb, the aged notes vanished and it became bright and fruity.
2008 Roberto Voerzio Riserva Pozzo dell’Annunziata Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy, which smelled of prune and raisin, with a chalky tannin and dried spices lingering on the tongue. When sipped alongside the lamb, spice and chocolate notes became apparent.
Course Five: Apple
We finished the night with a buckwheat and apple shortbread, served with raw honey, yogurt, and brandied currants. It had extra caramel to drizzle on top- which we did frequently because OMG it’s so good.
This was paired with two wines:
1929 Toro Albala, Don PX “Convento” Montilla-Moriles; no, you’re not reading that wrong, and I didn’t type it wrong. I mean 1929- as in the year my grandfather was born. The wine had notes of raisin, prune, tar, and a toffee nuttiness that has a shocking acidity and salinity given the age of the wine. With the dessert, both became decadent and rich.
1990 Hugel, Tokay Pinot Gris, Vendage Tardive, Alsace; made from Pinot Gris, this wine has notes of lemon, tangerine, and wet stone, with a bright refreshing acidity and lingering oiliness. It brought out the apple notes and bright flavors of the yogurt when sipped with the dessert.
Final Tasting Notes and Overview
Wine Options: They have an incredibly amazing by the glass and by the bottle menu from around the world and around the Finger Lakes that can accommodate any budget. You don’t have to do the Big Pimpin’ to have an amazing night.
We truly enjoyed the experience of trying these wines, but some of them were a little more challenging and they definitely tend more towards aged wine notes. You do get a little more attention if you’re doing the Big Pimpin’, but I don’t think doing different levels would have made the experience any less awesome.
Next time, I hope to do the FLX Baller and report back on what that tasting is like.
Price Range: $75 for dinner, tip, and taxes per person, $35-150+ for the wine pairings, wine menu ranged by the glass and bottle
Overall, it was an incredible, once in a lifetime meal with amazing wines that I would have probably never tried. My only wish is that Chris Bates and his partner Isabel had been there- I know you can’t expect them to be there every night, but it did change the wine experience and we didn’t chat with the staff about wine as much as I was anticipating given what I had heard from others. I didn’t get to totally nerd out like I was hoping, but that’s ok.
We had an unforgettable night, and I look forward to the next feast!