In the midst of suburban Rye sits an elegant restaurant that seems lifted from the Provençal countryside. The light peach-and-green building has some features that date back to the 1800s. Inside, you’ll find santons (painted terracotta figures), a bread cabinet, paintings, tapestries, and copious fresh flowers. Upstairs, a second dining room, full of windows, is airy and greenhouse-like. All, including the white tablecloth-covered tables and French country chairs and benches, are bathed in soft lighting. Owner Jacques Loupiac and his team, including the restaurant’s captain, Albert Bensimon, and its maître d’, Stephane Mazet, make sure diners feel transported, cosseted, and comfortable.
La Panetière, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, fits solidly in the fancy French category, but it’s far from stodgy. In fact, the fare is contemporary French and changes with the seasons. Each plate is colorful, artfully composed, and relatively light rather than leaden with butter and cream. A first course might pair squid-ink tagliatelle with “ocean broth,” sautéed squid, chorizo, and fresh fennel. Meanwhile, filet mignon could be accented with old-fashioned mustard butter. The dessert menu includes such selections as peach Melba with black currant sauce and cherries jubilee flambé with a side of vanilla ice cream. As a parting gift, the kitchen will send out mignardises, small treats such as pâte de fruits, financiers, or small tarts.
La Panetière offers an $82 tasting menu or à la carte option, plus a $32 prix fixe lunch (one of the best bargains in the county). The restaurant also hosts wine-tasting dinners and can be booked for on-site parties or off-site catering.
Friends Beth Jennings and Susan Mahoney of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Mary Davidson of Rye have been coming for 30 years, often for milestone events and celebrations. “They’re magnificent in terms of caring service,” says Jennings. “They accommodate you if you ask for something out of the ordinary,” adds Davidson. All three praise the “delicious and beautiful” fare, especially the hot and cold foie gras, Dover sole, cheese soufflé, lobster casserole, duck, and desserts.
530 Milton Rd