The proprietor of a number of high-end Boston eateries - and a lab-like cocktail lounge in Fort Point Channel - learned last week that her restaurant Menton had been accepted for membership into Relais & Chateaux, a fine dining and accommodations association whose approval of restaurants and hotels is considered a luxury step-up from the vaunted Michelin red guide.
“It’s been 15 years since I opened my first restaurant,’’ said Barbara Lynch last week, who pronounces her establishment mawhn-TAWHN; a four-course prix-fixe menu there costs $95. “I don’t mind saying I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, with the classic and classy dining options we’ve given the city. But this is great on a different level, because I feel like it’s a gift we’re giving back to the city. Menton, after all, is the first Boston property ever chosen by Relais & Chateaux.’’
To understand Relais & Chateaux’s exclusivity, one must understand that the association of roughly 500 restaurants and hotels only accepts two new members each year, said Relais president Jaume Tàpies. “Restaurants and hotels are welcome to apply,’’ Tàpies said. “And we get hundreds of applications but few are accepted. The judging process - we have nine very strict judges - is grueling. And it speaks volumes that for every two new members we accept each year, up to 30 are removed.’’
While there is no application fee or “donation’’ tied to entry into the Relais guide, as is the case for entertainers seeking to be honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for example, there is an annual membership fee. “The annual membership ranges from $7,000 to $10,000,’’ Tapies said. “It depends on a number of factors, including the size of the property. It is important to note though that no one can purchase a membership in Relais & Chateaux. Member organizations are judged anew each year, and if they fail to maintain the high standards that granted them acceptance they will be dropped.’’
As for what put Menton over the top, Tapies had this to say: “Frankly we were quite surprised. We did not expect Menton to be so well-rounded. It is an amazing restaurant. And among many other factors, our judges weighed the quality and consistency of its staff, of its service, of the menu, even the quality of the property itself, like the dining floor plan. Our judges were also impressed by the quality of Menton’s wine service. It is world-class. Boston can be quite proud that it has a world-class restaurant.’’
James H. Burnett III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.