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"How often can one attend the grand opening of a premier class restaurant and walk away feeling relaxed, satisfied, and thankful for such a gracious event? Having dined in some of the finest restaurants in ten countries over the past 30 years, it is only seldom that I discover the rare combination of serenity, quality, and conviviality. I found it at Chez Vero. 

Engaging hosts, French country ambience in an natural but upscale setting, a menu to challenge your palate with traditional French cuisine with exotic overtones, and a selection of fine wines, usually unavailable in this region, all competitively priced. It's difficult to maintain an unbiased opinion after having experienced Chez Vero firsthand.

To begin, an explanation of "Table d'hôte." In restaurant terminology, a 'table d'hôte' is a menu where multi-course meals are served with only a few choices are charged at a fixed total price. But the meaning goes deeper when one considers the etymology of the term. Originally, table d'hôte was used to denote a table set aside for residents of a guesthouse who presumably sit at the same table as their host. Chez Vero, although not a guesthouse, exists within the confines of the Richer family property, a home reminiscent to me of the fine French country inns of Montreal or Northeastern U.S. such as La Duchess Anne Inn, or Hotel du Village, but with the polished elegance of Chanterelle. Like Chanterelle, Chez Vero is only open on selected nights, and currently accommodates only two seatings per night, for a maximum of 12 persons per seating. The exclusivity
makes you feel privileged. 

Sadly however, unlike the original Table d'hôte, your hosts at Chez Vero are far to busy to sit with you at your table. But Vero's husband, Jean-Francois is always in circulation to make you comfortable in their grand dining space, and being a enthusiastic sommelier, ready to offer fascinating insights into their selection of fine wines.

The regimented waiter staff, standing at attention with eyes fixated on your every need, are rare in this country! Dressed in stylish grey with bowed cravats, moving with grace and deliberation, I found myself wondering if they had been trained by The School for the Service Arts. They seemed mostly unruffled by the pressure of opening night. 

The dining space? Imagine lush tropical greenery surrounding the dining room. Large thick glass tables of haute-industrial design, a gigantic blackboard wall listing the evening's fare in Spanish, English and French, comfortable sofas in the waiting area and a beautifully inviting conversational alcove.

Now the cuisine. First served was ‘tapenade with olives, baba ghanouj and dukka on bread croutons,’ served ensemble with healthy portions. Think you don’t like olives? Try it! Salty, but a flavorful counterpoint to the delicious ‘baba ghanouj’ (an Arabic combination of eggplant, onion and seasonings). Delicious! Bring me more croutons please! 

Next the mixed salad with creamy sherry dressing with chopped walnuts (were they roasted?) It was accompanied by zucchini and feta cheese crostini. Increible, incroyable delicious. I wanted more.

Then came the sausage stuffed pepper served alongside a onion tatin tart. The stuffed pepper was a delight, but the caramelized yellow onion tart offered an beautifully sweet contrast.

I appreciated the slight delay between the tapas and my main course. It gave me opportunity to catch up on my wine tasting. I had chosen a modest selection of tasting wines for my family to experience. We enjoyed 200ml each of Segura Viudas Brut Espagne Penedès, Federico Paternina Monte Haro 2013, Espagne Rioja Federico Paternina Banda Azul, 2011, Espagne Rioja Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest Errazuriz, 2014. The Paternina Banda Azul was so full and rich, the progression of quality in Jean-Francois selection was spot-on for me. Beverages at Chez Vero are not included, and the wines are not cheap. But the pricing formula at CV is extremely fair unlike every other restaurant in this region, and is designed toward the encouraging of new tasting experiences.

Returning to our menu. There was a choice of entree's; either the chicken breast stuffed with roasted peppers and gouda cheese, or pork fillet stuffed with parsely, tomatoe and parmesan (my selection). An adequately portioned filet, not overcooked, very tender and a delight to taste, served with roasted tomatoes and couscous. It was a tasty combination. For desert I chose the exotic 'black chocolate fondant with Lapsang Souchong tea, over the Creme Brule with Madagascar vanilla. A difficult but rewarding choice, to be sure. But instead of the tea I opted for a most complimentary pairing of "Noe, vinum optimum rare signatum," a mahoghany colored, 30 year old wine treading a line between bitter and sweet, intense flavors of vanilla, plum and sweet espresso. 

Vero is a an amazingly dedicated chef. Her product is art for the palate, 'art from the kitchen' indeed. But I would like to see even more artful color and presentations on the plate. Chez Vero is more than a restaurant, it's an experience, and a wonderful new culinary venue for discerning Dominican's and foreigners alike.

And here's one final note for Vero and Jean-Francois: If your restaurant/home should ever become a "guesthouse" or you open as a 'bed and breakfast' inn, please make certain that I am invited to 'sit with you at your table,' a la Table d'hôte!"

Visited December 2015