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La Cremailliere: exceptional dining just north of Greenwich

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La Cremailliere, situated in a large rambling house in Banksville, NY, about 3 miles north of Greenwich is one of Fairfield County’s gems. The food is extraordinary and the service excellent. When we dined there Saturday night, the restaurant was packed, but they never let up on their attentive service.

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Starting with the amuse bouche of duck mousse and the warm, crusty French bread, everything about our meal was truly delightful.

The menu includes 3 soups for $12: be sure to try Billi-bi: the wonderful mussels and saffron crème soup some time. The cold appetizers run from $14 to $25, the most expensive being the foie gras terrine and the smoked Scottish salmon.

The three warm appetizers range from $16 to $22. Be sure to try the sweet pea raviolis!

One of our appetizers was their creative take on the traditional beet salad: goat cheese, mache, red oak lettuce, baby arugula and walnut vinaigrette which included a couple of actual walnuts, for $17.50. It included 3 different colors of beets, making a great presentation.

Our other appetizer was a special shrimp salad dish that night ($32): shrimp salad inside half an avocado, served with a hot shrimp spring roll. Both were utterly delicious, with the cold shrimp and avocado setting off the warm spring roll nicely.

An unexpected surprise was a small bowl of chilled melon soup between courses as a palate cleanse. It looked plain enough, but the melon flavor was striking.

One of our main courses was Seared Sea Scallops ($38), served with shiitake mushrooms, artichoke hearts and a roasted tomato Provencal. This delicious dish was topped with a waffle cut potato chip.

Our other entrée was their classic Roasted Duck Breast and “Confit Leg.” The duck breast was warm and pink, and the confit leg tender, nearly falling off the bone. It was served with three colors of carrots, a sweet potato puree and a seasonal fruit sauce. We order this one about every other time we come here.

Finally, we foolishly ordered two desserts, just to see the variety they had available. Since they have some sort of fast convection oven, you can order soufflés ($14.75) at any time. We also ordered a group of tiny ice cream cones featuring their signature ice creams and sorbets ($10.75). The ice creams were excellent, and while the chocolate soufflé was excellent, we think it needed to be cooked just a little longer since you could see flecks of the meringue inside the soufflé.

Coffee and tea followed, and this is one of few American restaurants that served the tea properly: already steeping in a pot. We were also provided with a few little cookies.

The bill for this exceptional meal, including four drinks and tax but before tip was $230.85. But we guarantee we’ll continue to return from time to time.

Every restaurant that is packed on a weekend night is likely to have a few slowdowns in service, but other than our wine being a bit late, we felt we were served and cosseted from the beginning to the end, and what more can you ask? This is the finest dining you will find anywhere.

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