Cave Madeleine, Beaune – 25 January 2012

The essence of comfort food

Gijs 2012

What can I say – Beaune is my idea of heaven.

Beaune for me please...

I don´t need long beaches, shopping malls, posh restaurants and the hype of a big city. Beaune does just about the trick for me. Anywhere you look the city breathes WINE. In the shops, in the local food, the butcher, the baker, the bars, the people on the street. It is all about wine.

So going there with new friend and wine lover Gijs was a gift from heaven – or from Bacchus. Since I am the senior in this friendship as regard to dining (and in age) – I got to choose some most of our dining choices on this trip. And I had no doubts in my mind about the first one on my list. Because the last few times I had missed out on this recommendation from Jan in Denmark. His favourite place – Cave Madeleine.  And man – does Jan know his places.

Table was booked and we arrived around 7 pm full of hope and anticipation. The thing with Cave Madeleine is that they serve regional food without too much of a fuss, with no wine list, but a wall full of all the Bourgogne wines you could wish for – some bottles impossible to find elsewhere – and most of them with do I dare to say – a modest pricing policy. Therefore it is also favourite restaurant among locals- on this evening most of the large community table was occupied by a famous Meursault wine maker with his group of American clients.

I think there is around 6 tables for 2, plus the large community table. So a good 24 people can eat here – many were rejected after we arrived. Booking is essential. I felt sorry for the young Australian couple that did not get a table this evening.

The community table with "The Wall" in the back-ground.

The madam of the house did the service the first hour or so on her own, and was later joined by her husband. It is laid back service with a smile. We were shown to our table, but actually preferred another one, and got that. No problem. Besides the both English and French speaking hosts there is 3 persons in the kitchen. And they were just about to spoil us with what turned out to be – as Gijs put it –  “the essence of comfort food”.

Chablis Grand Cru 2008 from Raveneau

Gijs had no doubts that this was the one. Raveneau being one of the two top producers in Chablis.

Chambolle.Musigny !. cru 2008 from Philippe Pacalet

Having had the village version once at Söllerod Kro – being an extra bottle Jan told us we just HAD TO taste, I was happy to find Philippe Pacalet in the wall. It had to be that one. Gijs loved it. Which releaved me. I admire Gijs knowledge about wine and ability to describe them so detailed as he can. I will never reach his level. But I am learning. In that respect Gijs I am very much your junior.

As for the food….The menu – the dishes are presented on a black board behind the counter….Hard choice, because many of the dishes spoke to us. We settled for this…

Terrine of veal...

Absolutely wonderful terrine, crisp salad, great produce, truly homemade. One of the best I have ever had. It lacked a bit pepper for my taste. But the taste of the terrine…stunning. You had to be there…6p

Lamb...

Simply one of the best lamb dishes I have ever had. The simplicity of the arrangement makes it off course difficult to compare a dish like this with a more detailed presentation from a michelin starred establishment. But does it need to be ? In this case no. Wonderful tastefull meat, tender, great reduction, great mash (as good as mine) – crispy vegetables. If I had a last menu to order before heading off this planet…this dish would be in there…I asked if the chef was married (forgot I was lol), and intererested…the chef came smiling out. I guess he hoped for a long-legged blond Danish girl. I know I had hoped for a female chef. We both laughed and congratulated him on this dish. Truly the dish of the day, …of the trip. 9p

After this Gijs was on a roll and offered this pearler….

Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 2008 Jaques-Frederic Mugnier

As good as it gets. A perfect companion to the shared plate of cheese that finalized our dinner.

The cheese plate was a little let down in compare to the dishes above. But the 3 choises, consisted of 1 aged stunning compté  and 2 average ones. Cheese 4p

My conclusion:

It is easy to make simple and good food. You need good produce, a chef who knows what he is doing and cooks with passion. This is most certainly the case at Cave Madelaine. Combine this with a cosy room, perfect hosts and a wine concept others could learn from – well what do you get ? You get a perfect restaurant. Now people sometimes complain about my point system, how can you compare a brasserie – or your local sushi bar to 3 star michelin restaurant within the same scale? Well maybe you can – maybe you can´t. But let tell you this. If all my restaurants reviews were of brasseries, this one would get a 19.5p rating. No doubt. It was simply as good as a restaurant at this level can get, minus the minor flaw with the cheeses. Great bread, great service, funny but cosy ambience. Wines and food to die for – or with. I know Gijs loved it so much he swore NEVER to visit Beaune again without making sure that he could eat at Cave Madeleine. I felt proud and happy to have chosen this one.

Having had a disappointing lunch at La Ciboulette for lunch its easy to see where a restaurant and thus tourists can go wrong. Choosing a restaurant in a town that is so full of them is not easy. And the two meals we had on this first day learned us that man does it matter. Thank you Jan for directing us to Cave Madeleine. I remembered the two young Australian tourists that was rejected earlier that night. and truly hope they did not end up at La Ciboulette. But thats another story I guess.

I shall be back again for sure – hopefully with you Gijs. Here´s to our new friendship. Cheers – Big Ears….

My rating for this visit:

I shall add one happiness point for the wine concept and the general vibe of that GREAT evening we spend.

Food 7p (10) service 4p (5) ambience 5p (5), Happiness point 1p : Total Score  17p (20)

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My favourite restaurants 2011 !

And the FWRR awards 2011  goes to….

The below list is most likely also my all-time favourite list. But I will update the list next year and see if there are movements. Most of the restaurants on the list all gave me some memorable lunches or dinners in 2011. Some are still so present in my memory from earlier vistis that I cannot disregard them. So if I had 10 restaurants to re-visit on this planet, this would be my choices today.

1. Schloss Berg, Nennig. Bau continue to improve his cooking to perfection. I like everything about this place, the ambience, the service – the food and wines top notch.

1 - Schloss Berg - The Champion

2. Sölleröd Kro, Copenhagen Now had this pearl been in France it would be a 3 star michelin – but as it is – its in Denmark and thus “only” have 1. Jan Restorff is the best maitre in the world.

2 -Sölleröd Kro - runner up

3. Lameloise, Chagny Frederic Lamy and his team in the service makes sure the perfect food from the kitchen is delivered and presentated to perfection.

3 - Lameloise

4. Le Cinq, Paris. Not visited this year, but I cannot and will not leave it out of my list. Its simply too good. Maybe in 2012. One can always dream. 2 star michelin rating. No food photo – but a photo I never get tired of. Oscar and the missus meeting Bruce Springsteen, just outside Le Cinq.

4. Le Cinq - well actually Bruce Springsteen meets Oscar...

5. Restaurant Babette, Vordingborg – Henrik and Brian in the front and Vivi and her team in the kitchen make sure your dining experience is close to perfect. Being in rural Denmark, 1 hour from Copenhagen i.e. it has no michelin star rating but I am sure it would have at least 1 in France.

5 -Restaurant Babette

A shared 5th place go to

5. Der Butt, Warnemünde. 1 Star michelin rating. Tillman Hahn in the kitchen and all is well in the world. The dinner we had here last summer was outstanding, and even better than the years before.

5 -Der Butt

7. Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg. When Arnaud Magnier is good, he is really good. He is for sure the best chef in Luxembourg, and he often surprices you with combinations or presentations you would never dream of – but afterwards you will. Take a look at the the Cordon Bleu Revisited below and you will know what I mean. 1 star michelin rating.

7 - Restaurant Clairefontaine

8. Restaurant Rosin, Wulfen. Visiting Frank Rosin in his newly awarded 2 star michelin restaurant was something else than expected. Very down to earth cooking. Beautiful settings, and a wine list among the best I have seen in Germany.

8 - Restaurant Rosin

9. Bouquet Garni, Luxembourg. Thierry Duhr is among the best chefs in Luxembourg, and this adress is probably the most romantic gastronomic restaurant with its stone walls, and open fire in the evening. 1 star michelin rating.

9 - Bouquet Garni

10. Hotel Marbella Club, Marbella. For sure worth a visit. Javier Doncel, or the other waiters will treat you as a king, And you will be stunned by the quality of the food and surroundings. No michelin rating.

10 - Marbella Club Hotel, The Beach Club Restaurant

Enough gastronomy….

I shall finish the list of with some Brasserie style restaurants – but they all managed to impress me – some of them once some of them repeatedly..

1. Bullerei, Hamburg. Tim Mälzer and or his team, produces simple food, but with an outstanding price/quality, super friendly staff and an ambience I simply fell for. A surprice on the list, but the evening I spend there was really something. No michelin rating.

        1 – Bullerei – perfect beef

2. L´annexe, Luxembourg. Award winning in two categories, Jerome with J.P., Sebastien and Christophe in the front and “Miche” and his team in the kitchen provide you with super Brasserie food and you always feel welcome no matter how crowded the place is. And believe me, it can get very crowded. No michelin rating.

                       2 – L´Annexe

3. Ill Riccio, Luxembourg. Tano and Tina holds this restaurant in firm hands. Luca is slowly taking over the responsibilities, and he is everything you could wish for in a host. Its a TINY restaurant with a large menu, good wine list. The kitchen is very flexible and will cook just about anything you ask for. Easily my favourite Italian restaurant. No michelin rating.

3 - Ill Riccio

I am thankful forall the good friends that shared the moments with me along the way in 2011. Rock on….

Sölleröd Kro, Denmark – 7 August 2011

“Sun is shinin’ in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s in a play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day”

Mr. Blue Sky, Jeff Lynne 1977

When you see this…

followed by this guy…

"Mr. Blue Sky"

– you know you are in for a treat.

Celebrating our shared anniversary with Peter and Kit is ALWAYS something special. Special friends calls for special moments. And coming back to Sölleröd Kro, besides being a very special moment – always – has also become our tradition and a date we are already looking forward in repeating in many years to come.

I have told you before about my admiration for this place and for Jan Repstorff. First time I really took notice of Jan, was when I read his article in a Danish Gastronomic magazine about Paris, more notably the top restaurants in Paris. I just thought…I must meet this guy. And as you will know by now, meeting him, and Sölleröd Kro has changed my life. He breath service, he lives wine and food. He is Mr. Blue Sky. I love you Jan.

So on this day….our expections were somewhere around sky-high. The year before had been an out-of-body experience. And….yes….yes….yes it was again way up there. We thank you Jan and your team for making this day a day to remember and to treasure. You know you are making it hard for yourself by setting the bar so high.

The gluten aspect was handed to perfection, the bread offered in the beginning was simply cooked just as the normal ones, and with a top quality.

Gluten free home backed rolls for the missus

We got the menus, but Jan never left us…and soon said…Why dont I just set up a little something for you….trust me. We did just that. Winewise too we were spoiled.

What a fantanstic Champage...!!!

It was the follower to a pink champagne from de Sousa et fils. And Peter just busted out. I must have this one at home. He – we all loved it. It was follewed by many other outstanding drops, I shall not name them all, but a few were shot and will be presented below.

Amuse - Tomato on Tomato ice..

Crab with salted cucumber, dill and coliflower

Especially the salt pickled cucumbers were lifting this simple dish way up high.

Turbot

Lightness, the aspargus brilliant, perfect dish.

Scallops with smoked/burned salad

I loved it, some of us found the smokey taste to dominant. I found it perfect. The scallops halfed, but cooked 100 percent correct. Wauw.

A little something...Crispy chicken, chicken hearts, Not pasta but celery...

Great little dish – it worked.

A dish for the missus...

Chanterelles, onions…..what a beauty. She loved it.

Veal - with smoked sweet-bread and chanterelles

Who-ever cooked this meat, should be given an extra salary slip. King of the world. Top of the pops.

Three of the wines we had…

First red...

Second red - a "semi-old" 1976 !

Jan – thanks for letting us this one. All wines were excellent, but to find this gem and to open it for us was a very nice gesture. It was still vibrant, and what a colour.

Third red....

Now at this point our bellys were starting to obstruct….but Jan said, …are you really sure you dont want any cheese, – what if I tell you that it is ..I surrendered.

Manchego and Gruyere with truffles...

A personal highlight for me. And to think about how close I was to say no. Thank you sir.

This is how Jan looks when he know he has hit the spot.

Raspberries

Red & Black berries

Chocolate

Sweets

End of the show. What can one say after a meal like that, except thank you.

Conclusion:

When thanking Jan on facebook the day after our visit, I think I said something like Noma might be the best restaurant in the world, but Sölleröd Kro is the best restaurant in Denmark….Jan replied, haha..no no…we are just the best restaurant in Sölleröd. And the only one. Now that must be the understatement of the year.

Jan, Sölleröd Kro. We love you – we feel privileged to know you and to have spent yet another anniversary in your good hands. At the end of the meal Christian Ebbe, the young new head chef came out to say hi. You need not worry folks. Christian carries the torch with the same passion as Jakob de Neergaard did before him.

Jan, We salute you !

As it turned out, our visit was even blessed with a surprice other guest in the restaurant. One of the best food-bloggers in the world, Trine and her Klaus was enjoying there lunch as well – Trine – actually planning a Birthday lunch for her birthday anniversary – a lunch that is actually taking place today. It was an honour to meet you and Klaus. I hope your celebration today will be full of laugther and smiles. I know for sure that Jan and his team will provide the rest and reach the level your exquisite taste deserve. Happy Birthday Trine. Love your blog.

The brides - Kit and the missus...

Simplicity and sheer beauty as the food....

My rating for this visit: Food 9,5 (10), Ambience 5(5) and service 5 (5)  Happiness point 0,5 – Total score 20 (20)

Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 28 April 2011

I am a privileged person. I live only 35 kilometers from heaven. If I had one last meal on earth, and could choose it – it would be at Schloss Berg in Nennig. The constant development of the dishes together with the asian influences, and the respect for the produce is simply second to none.

I simply love the room, and the warm ways of all the staff. You feel at home. The small room with the high ceiling embraces you.

Yesterday I was happy to re-introduce my good friend Pascal to the place. He had not visited the restaurant for some time and thus the changes both in the room but also on the plates of the last two years were all new to him.

I have already told you a few times about the stunning quality of the kitchen of Christian Bau and his team, and let me just say that the food yesterday was up to the incredible high standard I have gotten use to here, and thats an effort in itself. Because putting the bar so high time after time…as a chef – you are bound to disappoint a client every now an then. But no. Not here. The food was again stunning and taking the grand voyage together with a food and wine lover was an extra bonus.

But the highlight yesterday in the room for me was young Daniel Kiowski. Maybe it was because I was with Pascal – a true admirer of German wines whos knowledge on that subject was more a match to Daniel than the standard knowledge of yours truly. Daniel shone like a diamond throughout the evening. Entertaining us, explaining us, testing us. A lot of different wines landed on the table, in between the suggested bottles, we got small tasters….just the way you want it to be. This was the only time EVER – I experienced someone coming  close to the level of passion and service that my good friend Jan Restorff offers you at Sölleröd Kro in Denmark.

We almost only had German wines – (and coming of age, starting to appreciate Riesling), I was again and again stunned by the wines – perfect companions to the excellent food –  that were selected.

I shall give you some shots of the evening. Not all the plates we had, just a few.

Fois gras...what a dish....for me it broke the scale.

Nebraska Beef. Beef seldom get any better than this.

Exotic fruits. One of my best desserts - ever.

My conclusion:

Spending an evening at Schloss Berg is always fantastic. Your eyes are spoiled with beautiful arrangements. You are welcomed and treated like a king, and your palete is served the best plates and exciting tastes you can ever imagine. Yesterday we experienced a young sommelier on top of that with a passion for his job – wine – which clearly matched the high quality of the kitchen. He was in his element. Simple as that. Thanks to the whole team –  to Yildiz, Jochen, Christian, Tristan – and especially to Daniel – we had a blast. I even liked the German Pinot Noir (Friedrich Becker Kammerberg 2005)

On a leaving note I can inform you that the sous-chef of Christian Bau, – Tristan Brandt – is in the finals for becoming Chef of the year 2011 in Germany. A contest for young and upcoming chefs. I wish him the best of luck. Good to know that the knowledge and ideas of Christian Bau is passed on to the next generation.

My rating for this visit:Ambience 5 (5) Service 5 (5) Food/Wine 10 (10) : Score 20 out of 20.

Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 3 September

As good as it gets.

Thank you Yildiz, Christian, Daniel, Jochen and all the rest of the great team that again made our evening special and our lives a little more rich.

Schloss Berg, the entrance.....

Christian Bau – I do not know how you manage to improve the level time after time. Coming back is always fantastic. Food should be fun. It sure was yesterday. Some of the dishes yesterday were not human any more. Must have been made with the help of Merlin or maybe Harry Potter. The details, the combination of every little thing on the plate. Each plate is not a plate in that respect. Its a piece of art. But that only works if the taste can give one what the eye expects. And thats the wonder of your kitchen. Congratulations, I hope to be back soon…next time with my camera.

Words can not describe your cooking, at least not my words, so I shall leave this to Trine, I envy you Trine – you may expect something special, but I guess you know that – Have fun.

– and to my friend Jan. Please come soon – you dont wanna miss this.

My rating for this visit: AS GOOD AS IT GETS !

My rating for this visit: Ambience 5 (5) Service 5 (5) Food/Wine 10 (10) : Score 20 out of 20.

Sölleröd Kro, Denmark – 8 August 2010

Celebrating a special day with old best friends is always great, but this day was in fact out of this world. I am actually glad the rain was pouring down, because this way there is still room for improvement. Other than that, what we experienced as to hospitality, creativity, good food and stunning wines – was simply amazing. I had high expectations for this lunch. Seeing old “friend” Jan Restorff again, and knowing that Jakob de Neergaard in the kitchen is as sharp as ever – it would be easy for my high expectations not to be met.

But from the moment we entered the room, Jan meeting us outside – at 12.00 till we left 5 hours later we were spoiled and taken care of, in a manner that it will be hard for anybody to follow-up on, or even try to get close to.

I have said it before, and I would like to stress it again. For this restaurant to hold “only” 1 michelin star is so close to criminal as it gets. Wake up Michelin, Take away a star in Hong-Kong and one in Luxembourg, and put them here – right there in the heart of Sölleröd.

I do not need the craziness or innovation of Noma or El Bulli to recognize when something hits the spot. I need good food, a slash of creativity, a lot of attention to detail and to the table, add a romantic ambience, Jakob and Jan – and you have the perfect meal. At least I had on that Sunday.

Some of my shots came out a little blurry – I apologize for that, but have chosen to include them.

We chose the standard 5 course Sölleröd Menu with a few extras thrown in as suggested by Jan, and to start it all of we went for a Champagne – Pol Roger Millesime 2000 rosé. I absolutely adored this bottle, the long nutty aftertaste. Stunning. Note – Have to buy some of that for my cellar when there is some money left in my pocket. Just for the fun of it, Jan let us try another vintage white champagne from Pol Roger – was it 1999 ?. Powerful, but the rosé blew me away.

A quiet romantic corner

Fantastic bread, replaced throughout the entire meal.

Green Gazpacho with olive ice.

This little amuse was so great, so creamy. Wonderful 10p

Caviar - Avocado - Langoustine

Albino Caviar - Avocado - Langoustine

This was the first of the little throw-in dishes. Jakob came out and explained about the caviar, especially about the Albino caviar, how much was harvested in the world etc.  The men were served the black, and the women were served the albino version. This was caviar as good as it gets in my book, the delicate combination with the avocado creme and langoustines…wauw. This is normally on the a-la-carte menu I think. When you go there..TRY IT ! 10p

To continue with the meal we then chose a bottle of Meursault Charmes 2006 from Francois Mikulski. What a great wine for the following dishes. Jan suggested us 4 whites, explained about their differencies, making the choosing really interesting.

Römö shrimps with cucumber, horseradish and dill

A simple light dish. The mild horseraddish and the nutty oil in the bottom made this dish melt in your mouth. The small shrimps added the texture and great taste. 9.5p

Smoked cod with different types of cabbage

Again, light, beauty on a plate, pleasure in your mouth. 9.5p

Again is was time to change direction, wine wise, and we chose a bottle of Chambolle Musigny 2006 from Francois Bertheau. Again Jan helped us in choosing from the vast numbers of bottles on the wine list by presenting 4 bottles, explaining etc. Since the wine was such an instant hit, he tickled our senses by offering a second bottle from Cambolle Musigny, the 2007 (?) Philippe Pacalet. What a whine, at first much more closed and fruity than the well balanced and smooth Bertheau, later totally winning us over with its charm and elegance.

Variety of potatos with summer truffles

Simple food, what do you get when you pair potato the best vegetable in the world, with truffles one of the most expensive vegetables in the world ? Happiness. May I add the summer truffle was really tasty and the dish a hit in my book. 9p

Roasted turbot with chanterelles and parsley

A “standard” Sölleröd dish, perfectly cooked turbot with tasty chanterelles. What more do you want ? 9p

Breast of veal with foie gras, new onions and currant

Ring ring ring…..a true beauty. Veal vacuum-cooked at 48 degrees then braised….the perfect meat. A dish you never wanted to finish. In a good way. 10p

Buttermilk, lemon and mint

First of the desserts, was a mojito oriented pleaser. I loved it. 10p

Red berries

A “Noma” inspired presentation. Again, the ligthness (needed at this point) the taste of the berries. 9,5p

Raspberry - "guf" - Raspberry

I love raspberry – 9.5p

Chocolate - chocolate - chocolate.

For me the weakest dish on a perfect menu, but maybe, just maybe the stomach was starting to say enough. Chocolate is still a must in any menu lol. 9p

To accompany the desserts, we first had two different tastings of Riesling Auslese from Mosel – Saar – Ruwer, and later two red low alcoholic wines – Jan have to help me here if he sees this, because I simply forgot their names, but they were both great, fresh and perfectly matched the berries and chocolate.

Conclusion:

I would wish for any gastronaut in the world to try food at this level, I would like everyone to feel the warmth and hospitality of Jan. I would want all the waiters in the world to deliver at least 10% of the passion Jan delivers. He lives food and wine. I love him. For me he is the among the best in the world. As good as it gets.

Simply the best

How do you rate a visit 20 km. north of Copenhagen yet so close to heaven – with good friends – with a meal close to perfectness. One could argue that more innovative dishes have seen the world, but when all is said and done – can good food get any better than good food ? Not in my world. Thank you again Jan and Jakob for making our day even more special. We shall be back….and even though it will be a little while, I can hardly wait. Sölleröd Kro rock on …….and thank you. I will add an exta 0,5 point to reach the top mark which I felt we experienced that rainy Sunday. As good as it gets.

My rating for this visit: Food 9,5 (10), Ambience 5(5) and service 5 (5)  Happiness point 0,5 – Total score 20 (20)

Babette, Denmark – November 2009

Restaurant Babette is situated on the outskirts of Vordingborg, some 45 min, south of Copenhagen. They offer fantastic quality at relatively small prices. A few years ago they also opened a small brasserie at harbour side in Vordingborg. In my opinion Restaurant Babette is among the most honest food you get in Denmark, with no compromise to the quality of the products used.

Vivi Schou the head chef has recently been awarded the Danish Champagnepris for her cooking and contribution to the Danish gastro-scene, and head waiter /owner / host Henrik Pedersen was voted best of his kind in 2007.

You may choose a full menu (6 dishes) – or you may pick 3, 4 or 5 as you like. It is priced at 60-80 eur, the lunch menu even a bit cheaper as far as I remember.

They do not offer a wine list as such but Henrik is willing to put several bottles on the table, explain the differences and come with his recommendation. Apart from that there is a wine menu and a wine menu for the designated drivers.

The photos below give you an impression of the outstanding decor and the puristic and great dishes. I never got to write a review after the visit last year, but I hope to be back soon in order to do so.

Beautiful, inviting, romantic

Small appetizers

Amuse

Eel, dark bread crust, variations of pumpkin

Turbot (I think) - with leaves of Brussel sprout

Langoustine

Pheasant - first serving..

Pheasant - second serving, unsharp photo..sorry.

"Brunsviger" revisited - with red beet

Sweets

The 2 magicians of the evening..

I hope this young lady may never leave the business..if only all waiters were like her.

I think this evening was my 5th visit to the restaurant. Even though neither Henrik nor Vivi was there, it was a stunningly high level on both service and food. The young waiter, I asked for her name but have since forgot, did a fantastic job, smiling, entertaining and explaining about the dishes and the wines. Thats the passion you want to meet as a client, and the passion Henrik normally is demonstrating at all times. Very much like Jan Restorff does is at Sölleröd Kro.

Our of my memory of the evening I have the following conclusion to the visit. Book now.

My rating for this visit: Ambience 4p (5) Service 4,5p (5) Food/Wine 8p (10) : Score 16,5 out of 20.