Looking at the road signs in Burgundy is like perusing the worlds best wine list. Meursault, Puligny Montrachet, Pommard, Nuits Saint Georges to name but a few. Burgundy not only offers us some of the best chardonnay and pinot noir in the world but some good cooking too.
Aupres du Clocher – Pommard
After a morning of tasting Puligny Montrachet’s we headed to the village of Pommard for lunch. Aupre du Clocher is a small restaurant, no more than 40 covers. Housed in a medieval building in the village square, the interior is minimalist with views over the Pommard vineyards. The menu matches the decor. Dont expect any French classics here as the chef is ex Lameloise and this is nouvelle cuisine. An amouse bouche of pea gazpacho was fresh and the vibrant green added some much needed colour to the neutral pastel tones of the dining room.
We had been told the ‘oeuf de poule a le neige en meurette d’escargot a Bourgogne’ was the starter to go for. A tower of egg whites with a solitary egg yolk cocooned inside on a bed of snails with shallots in a red wine jus.A beef bourguigon cannelloni entertained us for mains. Fibrous flaky pieces of beef wrapped in al dente cannelloni could have been cooked by an Italian and felt a little out of place for a Burgundian restaurant.
We named the dessert the Epoisee delight. On the right of the plate a piece of baguette with epoisses spread on it, to the left its evil twin. An eposse mousse with cream and pieces of gingerbread dispersed through it. A last supper kinda dish.
Price: 50 Euro per person Michelin Stars: None Rating: ‘Village’
Le Chassagne – Chassagne Montrachet
Le Chassagne is located in Chassagne Montrachet in a historic building but the automatic sliding glass door in to the dining room hinted at the modern theme of both the food and decor.
All in all, this meal was rather disappointing. The food was good, as it should be for a Michelin star restaurant but the service was beyond appalling. An aged Manuel style waiter was only the person serving the 40 seater restaurant. As we were seven people we were seated in a semi private room, off the main restaurant. Well, Osama Bin Laden would have had more chance surviving if he hid here as we were invisible to the waiter.
Service and ambience is just as, if not more important, than the food itself. This was a prime example where the front of house let down the kitchen. Shame, as the pig cheek main was rather special.
Price: 70 Euro per person Michelin Stars: One Star Rating: ‘Village’
Chez Guy – Gevrey Chambertin
An impromptu stop at Chez Guy for lunch on the terrace. This family run eatery has one of the best wine lists in the region. We commenced with brawn terrine, snails and green asparagus. The Grand Cru of dishes here was the simple fresh green asparagus with grilled slices of ham and some parmesan cheese. A perfect light lunch dish. Scalllops and lamb were two mains to follow but the third caused some serious issues amongst the party. The Andouillette, a pig colon sausage. Although no oil painting, I thought the dish packed a great punch of flavour and the simple touches of béarnaise sauce and french fries complimented it perfectly.
Price: 30 euro per person Michelin Stars: None Rating: ‘Premier Cru’
Lameloise – Chagny
This is the ‘tour de force’ of dinners. A three Michelin star establishment in the village of Chagny. Over the past year the hotel and restaurant have undergone a change in ownership and this was clear from the change in the style of menu. Before, Lameloise was a lecture in Burgundian cooking. Cream and butter reigned surpreme. A Mr Creosote style experience.
The new chef has taken a modern day twist to Burgundian cooking which has resulted in a more enjoyable but just as emphatic tasting menu priced at 150 euro per person. Not cheap, but worth every penny.
I am not even going to attempt to talk through the whole 8 course menu but some highlights included a langoustine sashimi on a wasabi creme brulle served with a langoustine tempura. The stand out dish for me was probably the most simple of them all. Petit pois with morrells, chicken oysters and poached quails egg. To use peas as the main ingredient in a dish in a restaurant like this shows skill and a confidence in the kitchen.
The pre dessert, dessert and petit fours make Willy Wonka look like an amateur.
Price: 200 Euro per person Michelin Stars: 3 stars Rating: ‘Grand Cru’
Le Benaton – Beaune
Another Michelin star to add to the list. Le Benaton is a small restaurant located just outside the old town ramparts. We had been told by a wine producer friend that this was the best restaurant in town at the moment. A 26 seated modern dining room with pastel colours and modern Philipe Starck lighting. The seats were made from soft ostrich leather, it was like sitting on a Smythson diary.
We opted for the Terre and Mer menu at 60 euro a head. I liked the fact that there was also a 30 euro menu in the evening, making it accessible for all to eat here. Some amouse bouche arrived. A small cube of pate with a single caper berry was dainty and flavoursome at the same time.
To clear the palate, a glass bowl covered in a glass dome with a telly tubby style antenna was presented. A beetroot puree with goats cheese and a tiny quail egg was inside. Punchy both in colour and taste.
The first course was a tuna sushi and crab and quinoa roll. Ironically it was some of the finest sushi I have had in a while.We later discovered that all the chefs, part from the owner, are Japanese. Beautiful succulent pink veal arrived next in a light veal gravy with some green vegetables.
The usual ritual of Epoisse and goats cheese followed before dessert which was a Faberge egg style meringue housing diced strawberries in balsamic vinegar.
This food was bold and bright. The united colours of Benaton.
Price: 60 euro per person Michelin Stars: One Rating: ‘Premier Cru’
So rare is it able to have a meal in France in an hour but at Les Roches we did. A family run establishment in an unassuming limestone house in Saint Romain. Scribbled on the blackboard next to our table was the menu. To start l’escargot, to follow either lamb or fish and to finish cheese.
Six escargot arrived sitting in a small ramekin. The snails were swimming, in a good way, with butter and garlic only the way the French can do. The surprise element of the dish was the thin slices of boiled potato that soaked up the garlicy juices as well as adding that extra dimension to the dish.
To follow slices of leg of lamb and the hake. Both dishes were accompanied with a ratatouille but this was done Saint Romain style. The aubergine had been replaced with chunks of bacon and the addition of quinoa made it a special side. The other star of the side dish world was the cream of carrot with star of anise and vanilla. The description almost makes it sound as though it has an overcomplicated taste, but it was far from it.
To drink…a Saint Romain of course.
Price: 30 Euro per person Michelin Stars: None Rating: ‘Grand Cru’