By Doc Lawrence:
In Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov Mitya reveals the Latin maxim, de gustibus non est disputandum, meaning that in matters of taste, there can be no disputes. Freya’s, one of the world’s top restaurants, has earned the right to chisel this above the regal entrance.
Guests arrive, fashionably attired. Millennials mingle with septuagenarians, the diverse gathering of couples know that high expectations are welcome. “Freya’s,” says one guest, “is where the imagination isn’t abstract. It’s the real thing.”
During seating, the orchestra played soft classics ranging from Broadway show tunes to Duke Ellington standards. Close your eyes and think Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Peggy Lee.
Freya’s reflects the elegant lifestyle of owner Freya Pruitt. “Dinner is a celebration of friendship,” she says. “The ritual of sharing the table with companions merges friendship and love with food that is healthy and wines that are delicious. Everything is served on beautiful china with appropriate crystal and silver on a table that radiates luxury.”
Freya’s is a blend of many legendary restaurants in décor, menu, and music. There are reminders of the Tropicana in Havana, the Paris Ritz, and even Rick’s Café in Casablanca. For those who love nostalgia, an evening here takes on a few aspects in the City of Light where Chez Denis a ruinously expensive restaurant on Paris’s Right Bank, hosted a 33-course $4,000 dinner for gastronomes Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey. The wines were selections for the ages and included Champagne Comtesse Marie de France 1966, Château Latour 1918, Montrachet du Baron Cher 1969, Château Mouton Rothschild 1928, Château Lafite Rothschild 1947, Château Petrus 1961, Romanée-Conti 1929, Chateâu D’Yquem 1928, and an 1835 Madeira.
Enter Freya’s and you are greeted by stylishly attired staff and the unmistakable commander, the maître d’. Your table is waiting and just after seating, even before the presentation of menus, an amuse–bouche is gently served, accompanied by flutes of Champagne. Perusing the dinner choices is easier with a stimulated appetite.
A measure of a restaurant’s commitment to client satisfaction includes a menu that emphasizes clarity and balance. “There is such a difference between exotic and elevated dining,” Freya observes. “Your evening here is focused on you and those who are in your company. You deserve an experience that honors love and friendship.”
Wild duck consommé was followed by beautifully presented raw oysters, then on to main courses that included pheasant, roasted baby lobster tail with Tournedos de boeuf, and Veal Oscar. The pièce de résistance was the remarkably elusive dessert, Charlotte Russe.
Making room for all the food and wines was never an issue. As the evening ticked on, the orchestra played a variety of dance numbers, some upbeat and others slow and seductive.
Closing out the evening was the band’s interpretation of the Johnny Mercer classic, “A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square.”
“This heart of mine, it beat loud and fast
like a merry-go-round in a fair.
We were dancing cheek to cheek
and a Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.”
Freya presented each woman with a remembrance: a delicately lovely long-stemmed red rose.