Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 26 November 2010

The yearly contest to find the best sommelier of the country was held last week at the annual Gastronomic fair on Kirchberg. I am happy to announce that the winner was in fact Michael Wagner….who you will find at…..Clairefontaine. So – “I had to pass” by to honour his victory with a small gift.

and the winner is....Michael Wagner

I let the choice of wine totally in his hands, who wants to argue with the best ! As always it was presented blind, and I was lucky to guess Rhone Valley. And what a smooth beauty it was.

My knowledge of Rhone wines has to improve, this was a great drop.

First amuse, Goat Cheese Lollypop

Second round of amuses

Maitre Didier finding the time to make friends with Emil

Le foie gras de canard Prestige

This was one of the best starters I have had at Clairefontaine (and there has been a few). The red beet, the capres worked perfectly with the fois gras. The quality and cooking of the fois gras flawless.

The missus opted for King Crab on a bed of tartar of Langoustines.

followed by

Slowly cooked shoulder of beef on mashed potato

The second time I have ordered this dish in a month. I must like it….

Poached Anglerfish - choice of the missus. Nice presentation, great taste.

The above plates were followed by the usual sweets. No room for dessert.

Conclusion: What do you expect, when coming back to “the best restaurant” in town, among friends. Well when its with your family, including two vibrant boys, the first focus is…are the boys in the mood to behave, …and then..is the dinner and wine being up to the usual standard. And tonight it all worked well. The boys and the missus behaved, the food were excellent and the wine a good companion. Thanks for having us and for the top service. Again Emil let Alex – (The Spanish waiter) follow him to the toilet, hand in hand, that was a sweet thing to watch. Thanks Alex. And to come back to the main reason for our visit…..Congratulations Michael with the award and for continuesly suggestiong and presenting us with wines that fits our pallets. We appreciate that a lot.

My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 4.5p (5), total score for this visit  18p (20)

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Hotel Le Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, France – November 2010

Coimg back to Bourgogne this time also meant coming back to Le Montrachet. The hotel has been renovated and updated with a wine bar, a new chef and awaits you in all its glory.

When you enter the square in front of the hotel, you are aware that you are entering history. The best white wines in the world are produced here, and across the square you will find a little Cave offering tastings and sale of most of the local “pearls”. A small cafe and of course the hotel and restaurant of Le Montrachet. Just around the corner you have Oliver Leflaive among others.

I am not sure if the hotel holds 3 or 4 stars at this time, but it gives you a genuine 4 star feeling, help with your suitcases etc. etc. Funny enough there is no minibar in the room, so water etc. has to be ordered at the reception or bar. The rooms comes from around 150 eur per night plus breakfast. The breakfast is very nice with all kinds of cakes, rolls, omelette, charcuterie etc. etc. etc.

The proprietaire for more than 20 years Thierry Gazagnes has a warm smile and a french attitude. The rooms have a great bed, chairs, good looking bathroom, docking station for your Ipod (GREAT !).

Heres a few shots to get you going…

The front of Le Montrachet

Place des Marronniers, now imagine it in full blossom come Spring !

Back to “Le Montrachet”…

The dining room of Le Montrachet has been beautifully restored, and you feel like you are dining among kings and queens. The food is very good. I would say its just around or just below 1 star michelin level in France, the service is friendly but not perfect.

The wine list is SIMPLY STUNNING ! I think it holds 500 different wines – or was it 1000.

You will find 1 whole page with around 40 items dedicated to the king of white wines alone

Montrachet anyone ?

My rating for the dinner (where I shot no pictures sorry) –  would be something like:  Food 6.5p (10), service 3.5p (5), ambience 5p (5) add one bonus point for the wine list, total score for this visit  16p (20)

As for the hotel and whole experience I must say I shall be happy to be back. There were few flaws, that could be easily corrected, like having a wine list lying on the tables of the huge side lobby (with wines per the glass)  – but no-one to take your order !.  But its France, its Burgundy, its not a 5 star hotel….so relax, sit down, grap a coffee table book or go the attended Wine bar and sip a beautilfully prepared Kir.

The Wine bar inside Le Montrachet

Or step ouside and embrace the air, and take a walk, and you will think you are in some kind of story tale, a piece of paradise.

Mr. Gazagnes, I am happy to be back in April and shall not hesitate in recommending this little “pearler”. Congratulations on your “new” old hotel. It looks stunning and embrace the visitors.

*

Pierre et Jean

We wanted something local for our first evening and the receptionist suggested Pierre et Jean – the newly opened Brasserie of Lameloise. As it turned out it was great, good food, 3 course menu for 32 eur, nicely priced wines and attentive service. Here’s a few shots from that evening…..

A big poster promoting the name of the restaurant inside the restaurant

Modern, beautiful and relaxed atmosphere.

Open kitchen - lovely

Kjetil elaborating big thoughts....

Rack of lamb - my chosen main dish. Lovely.

All in all that was a great experience. Its not food to blow you away, but simple good food at a very attractive price of 32 eur. You get to choose from different starters, mains and desserts. We left with a good feeling and I am happy to recommend Pierre & Jean to anybody who happens to be in the area.

I shall leave you (and Bourgogne) with a few shots from the area…cant wait to be back.

Inside looking out...

Saturday market in Beaune

Beaune - I love you.

Lameloise, Chagny, France – 13 November 2010

Lameloise was the first 3 star michelin experience in my life some 15 years ago. So it will always have a special place in my heart. Some years ago it lost its third star only to regain it I think two years after. Locals shook their heads when it happened and still talk about it today. For them Lameloise has been the local pride since the 1920’s (!) and for them there has been no decline in quality over the years. There has been a change in the kitchen however. Jaques Lameloise who took over the family business in 1971 to become the youngest chef in France to receive the 3 stars in 1979 has stepped aside and left Eric Pras and Frederic Lamy in charge of the kitchen, however the Lameloise family remain involved in the running of the Lameloise business.

Last year they opened a Brasserie, “Pierre & Jean” which we were lucky to visit the evening before, but  I shall come back to that in another review.

But today was the day to “pass on the torch”  to the new generation, making it both Oscar and Emils first visit ever visit to a 3 star michelin establishment. Fellow diner good friend from Norway Kjetil and his Sebastian funny enough shared that feeling. Lameloise being Kjetils first 3 star restaurant some years ago, and Sebastians first time today. So there was thats special felling in the air when entering the restaurant. Sebastian told us – where are the stars – he expected them to hang in the windows. But as Kjetil explained him, sometimes when you are that good, you dont need to show the world…the world will know.

After a rainful arrival the day before in Bourgogne, the sun came out a bit and this is what that looks like in Chagny in November

The beautiful old building of Hotel and Restaurant Lameloise

Two different tablets were served with the aperitive

Olives, Marinated Garlic and Salmon Creme

The quality of the green olives outstanding, as good as they get.

Second round of tastings...

Fois Gras, Macrel, Tartare and….I forgot. Great, especially the Macrel on Red Beet….

Last greeting from the kitchen, Fois Gras Creme Brulee and Cold Chestnut Soup

Emil, having tried mostly the bread at this point and the escargot bisquits of the second round of amuses...

Oscar was not really sure what to do with this one...better wait for the pasta...

As for drinking. The boys opted for Limonade. The grown-ups a beautiful Meursault 1. Cru from Jaques Prieur, and a Gevrey Chambertin 2008 from Meo-Camuzet, both stunning and good companions, The fruity red going very well with both the lobster, the sea bass and the beef.

A 3 course menu for small children comes at 25 eur, Breast of Chicken with pasta being the main dish. All Amuses and Greetings were also offered to the kids (nice)

Fois Gras "wrapped" in sliced Potatoes and Cabbage, topped with Truffles. Truly wonderful. Simple ingredients, wonderful result.

Langoustines

A typical classic presentation at Lameloise. Not to much of a fuzz, but clearly a kitchen who knows what to do and how to present a wonderful dish, without “re-inventing the wheel”.

Lobster with Sabajone

Old friend and fellow diner Kjetil claims two things. 1) to have (caught and) eaten hundreds of lobsters….and 2) That this was the most perfect lobster dish he had ever had. He actually had tears in his eyes eating it. Softy.

Sea Bass with Scallops

Scallops and Sea Bass cooked perfect, the Sea Bass being a bit “robust” in the taste – making this the weakest dish of the day.

Beef Charolles with Vegetables

This was my main dish. Great basic cooking and presentation. However, I do prefer old fashioned braised or grilled meat. I am little bit tired of meat being cooked to perfection at 48 degress during x hours. I want a bit more roasted crust, a bit more variation with the given piece of meat. But perfectly (slowly cooked) it was. Call me old fashioned.

What a beauty, the pre-dessert, great great Mango. I do love Mango.

 

Chocolate dessert

As good as the first time. Some things dont ever need to change. I remember having more or less the same presentation 15 years back.

and then came the sweets….

First round...

and the last round.

Conclusion

For me the legend is still there, so is the “romance”. I love the old rooms, the service, the wonderful bread, the classic presentations of good produce, cooked to perfection and ever so beautifully presented. I am happy that this pearl remains alive and kicking – and I am sure the new team will keep Lameloise at this top level. In compare to other of my favourites, for example Le Cinq in Paris, the service is a bit more distant. Its friendly and as good as it gets, and they are very good with the children – but it is not as “family-like” or “young” as I do prefer. But I guess a bit of old fashioned top service is good to experience once in a while, and thus know that some things in the world do not need to change. Add a huge wine list and the rest of Bourgogne just around the corner, you will leave happy and content – and you will be sure to have spend some memorable hours in the hand of people who clearly know what they are doing. I am happy that the next visit is already booked, even if half a year away.

As for the boys including visitor Sebastian from Oslo. Whenever you get a big older and read this -let it be known, that there were 3 proud parents in the room today (Siri, you would have been too). We know that we sometime expect a lot from you…sitting on a chair for 3 hours among other…..but you did so very well today as throughout the whole Bourgogne trip, a trip that was short on childrens activities and heavy on dining and drinking. Thanks for making parenthood all worthwhile. Big boys. We hope someday you will pass the torch on to your offspring. And by the way…thanks to Nintendo…without whom….

http://www.lameloise.fr

My rating for this visit: Food 9p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  19p (20)