Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In the Before Time: La Maisonette Restaurant (Cincinnati Ohio)

My partner has a catchall phrase for everything belonging to the period of our childhood when we had the illusion the world was civilized and people cultivated manners and "correct" social behavior. He prefaces all remarks about this lost world with the phrase .... In the Before Time...
I'd like to use that as a special recurring feature here because I expect to have a lot of posts looking back at those days gone by to recapture some social history and personal memories before it all fades to black.

First up, a fancy French restaurant from my childhood. La Maisonette, in Cincinnati Ohio. Gone now, but a major go-to destination for the sixties and beyond generation and our parents. This was the ne plus ultra in fine dining in the entire region. We lived in Kettering, a Dayton suburb, and we had a few grand places in town like the King Cole Restaurant, but nothing to compare with La Maisonette. Here are a few photos from the restaurant's past. They had a fantastic art collection, wine cellar, authentic French chefs and menu. I remember several visits when I was in my early teens, though what the occasions were I can't remember in the least. I was fascinated by the heavily draped corner booths which some patrons left looped and open and some were closed for privacy. I could hardly pay attention to anything but what might be going on behind those corner booth curtains. Every time a waiter discretely parted them for service, I craned my neck to stare as I suppose even a lot of adults were also doing at the time. There was nothing in my childhood to compare with an evening in this restaurant, the drive south to Cincinnati from Dayton, the valet parking, the downtown location, the grilled entrance, the low lighting and candles, the mirrors, the fabric on the walls. It sounds corny but it was the chic-est experience a 9 year old Ohio boy could have had in 1969. This post is a thank you to that lost world for offering such a great glimpse into a civilized adult dining experience. I hope these photos convey a bit of the glamour and mystery of the place.

5 comments:

  1. Sadely I never got to experience La Mainsonette as a boy growing up in the '60s - I grew up in Washington C.H. My Mom and her friends would go once in a blue moon.

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  3. Thanks for this, and especially the pictures. My husband and I ate there in our own "the before time", when we were newly married and without children. We sat in a draped corner booth, and I cherish every moment and memory of that experience. I just showed my daughter the pictures and am sad she'll never have an evening there like that.

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  4. I thank you for this. My father was Pierre Adrian, the original chef that moved the Maisonette to 6th strreet and earned its first 5 star award. Sadly he died young, leaving his best friend and sous chef George Haidon to take the helm and continue the sophistication and excellence so many remember. Sadly, I am searching for photos, memorabilia, or anything that brings my childhood in the Maisonette kitchen with my father back to me. Dieter Krug of L'auberge in Dayton was a good friend of my fathers who he helped get started, surely you have memories there too and appreciate the joy and memories that great food experiences create. Thank you for brightening my day! Niki Adrian Fitzgerald

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thank you for this. My father was Pierre Adrian, the original chef that moved the Maisonette to 6th strreet and earned its first 5 star award. Sadly he died young, leaving his best friend and sous chef George Haidon to take the helm and continue the sophistication and excellence so many remember. Sadly, I am searching for photos, memorabilia, or anything that brings my childhood in the Maisonette kitchen with my father back to me. Dieter Krug of L'auberge in Dayton was a good friend of my fathers who he helped get started, surely you have memories there too and appreciate the joy and memories that great food experiences create. Thank you for brightening my day! Niki Adrian Fitzgerald

    ReplyDelete