Bastide, in a class of its own

by Irene Virbila
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Under chef Walter Manzke, the Melrose Place restaurant's third incarnation is quite the experience.

champagne-cork-popping.jpg The blue door, shuttered for more than a year and a half, is open once again, and the stage is set for Act 3. Step in, and you're welcomed with the offer of an aperitif in the enchanting garden where a pair of gnarly olive trees cast lacy shadows on the wall, water falls into a basin, and the air is scented with lavender.

Order Champagne and the sommelier waltzes over with a double magnum of vintage Champagne one night, pours an unusual Sacy rosé another time. You might be served breadsticks with transparent gold potato chips and spiced nuts or slender, cheese-laced churros that taste like New World gougères. The effect is somehow so civilized, you find yourself relaxing into another rhythm.

Bastide is back.

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