It’s a groundfish that doesn’t style like a backside dweller. It’s a spotlight of my summer season meals.
America suited Charpentier’s ambitions. Not lengthy after his arrival, he opened his restaurant in Lynbrook, a landlocked village on the South Shore of Lengthy Island, about an hour outdoors town. He courted clients from his work within the metropolis, Vanderbilts and Roosevelts amongst them, together with Diamond Jim Brady, David Belasco, Sarah Bernhardt and different members of New York’s glittery elites. Touring to the restaurant from Manhattan, whether or not by automotive or prepare, couldn’t have been simple then. Nick Carraway might have handed by way of the valley of ashes to get to West Egg in “The Nice Gatsby,” however the southern route was certainly as horrific, pushing east previous the hellscape of Jamaica Bay, the place horse-rendering vegetation lined the coast alongside rubbish incinerators.
Nonetheless, they got here. “One nice day in 1912, when all I needed to fear about had been money owed and empty cabinets in my wine cellar,” Charpentier wrote in his memoir, “Life à la Henri,” “I appeared out-of-doors and noticed an enormous Renault automotive. You possibly can nicely imagine I’d tremble on the sight of a mechanism made in France, however I used to be delighted when Mr. J.P. Morgan stepped out.” Charpentier first met Morgan as a boy, whereas working on the Resort Cap Martin within the south of France. “He appeared fairly, fairly outdated. ‘Henri,’ he stated, ‘there might be 10 of us tonight at 7.’”
Charpentier’s fluke au gratin didn’t make an look that evening — he served sea bass to Morgan’s occasion as an alternative, after programs of caviar and pot au feu, upfront of poussin, salade Monte Carlo and the requisite crêpes Suzette — however it might not have been misplaced. It’s a sublime and actually fairly easy preparation, with fillets of fish baked on prime of and beneath a sauce of butter cooked with chopped shallots, garlic, chives, parsley and mushrooms, brightened with lemon juice and white wine, and with bread crumbs, sliced mushrooms and dots of butter strewn throughout the highest. You may make that sauce within the morning, should you like, and assemble the dish for the oven simply earlier than dinner, making it a breeze for weeknight entertaining (keep in mind that?). However it’s no stretch to do all of it, as Charpentier may need stated, “à la minute.”
Prohibition hit Henri’s laborious, and enterprise took a flip for the more serious. In 1938, Charpentier closed the restaurant and left Lengthy Island for Chicago. Based on The New York Occasions, which reported on his departure, he “blamed excessive taxes and what he described as the current lack of appreciation for high quality meals.” Fluke is an effective approach to reverse that final.