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Gourmet dining in France

I'll try to share a few memorable dinners we (Dorit and myself) had in *, ** and *** restaurants in France.
We sampled the following restaurants during two weeks in October 1992.
Except for one (Bernard Morillon in Beaune, which we've known for years), it was the first time we had the pleasure in any of these fine establishments.

"Y" for forks, "*" for stars in the red Michelin guide.
"[cmp]" for complementary delicacies.
"!", "!!", "!!!" - My hedonism scale of certain dishes...

Top mark is 10.
All dinners (or lunch) for two.

Hostellerie de Clos (Michel Vignaud) - Chablis. YYY*

A light lunch.
Three different pastries [cmp]

Nage d'Huitre d'Isigny au Chablis
(Oysters cooked in Chablis)
Cherry tomatoes stuffed with cheese & herbs [cmp]

St. Jacques poelees et petits Cepes !!
(Delicate scallops lightly sauteed in mushroom sauce)
Fondue de Framboise a l'Estragon !
(Forest berries in a liqueur sauce and sherbet)

Very thin wafers with almonds, petitfours, chocolates [cmp]

2 glasses of Chablis Grand Cru - Vaudesir '88 by Fevre (so so)

Beautiful garden view. Waiters in formal attire at noon time. Prompt, good service, but not especially friendly. Excellent food. $100, Mark 8+.

Bernard Morillon - Beaune YYY*

Inside the Le Cep hotel. Our favorite hotel in Bourgogne. One of many dinners there. Madam Morillon, the chef's wife, is a formidable woman (in every sense < g >). She is the best example of a French proprietor, who rules her dining room like a sea captain, yet goes out of her way to make each diner feel he is her only personal guest tonight.

Assorted salty pastries [cmp]

Ecrevisse Pattes Rouges en Jeune Rougaut !!!
(Concentrated shrimp stew in dark gravy)

Homard, facon Mere Braziere !
(Lobster chunks)
Coeur de Charolais, Saute St.-Amant !!!
(Charolais beef, topped with liver pate on bed of pears)

Pigeon de Bresse Souvnoff !!
(Pigeon in plum sauce and a "drunk" pear)
Cheese: Epoisse, Citeaux, Ami-de-Chambertin, Amour de Nuits etc.
Souffle Framboise !

Forest berries in liqueur sauce and ice-cream !

Sweet pastries, petitfours, chocolates [cmp]

1/2 Bottle Beaune '85 - Very good (forgot the source)

Excellent food, service and atmosphere. $200, Mark 8++.

Lameloise - Chagny, Bourgogne YYY***

The modest looking, famous three-starred restaurant in the Cote d'Or.
Dinner, a la carte.
Assorted pastries [cmp]
Escargots ravioli [cmp]

Les deux foie gras froid !
(Cold goose liver cooked in wine and goose-liver pate)

Feuillantine de Homard emulsion de tomates !
(Cold lobster chunks in spiced tomato sauce)
Homard aux tagliatelles a l'encre de seich !!
(Big pieces of lobster meat on black noodles bed)

Noisettes de chevreuil aux baies de cassis !!!
(Rolls of tender deer meat in cassis sauce, with truffles and thin slices of figs on a bed of celery puree)

Sweet thin pastries [cmp]
Souffle Grand Marnier

Petitfours and chocolates [cmp]

1/2 Meursault Genevrieres '89 (excellent)
1/2 Clos de Corton '85 by Faiveley (good but closed)

Superb food, prompt but cold service. $350, Mark 9.

Hostellerie de Levernois (J & C Crotet) - Levernois, Bourgogne YYYY**

A superbly-set spacious restaurant amidst a beautiful park.
Dinner, Menu Surprise.
A charming woman (the maitre d' !) recommends we take the "Menu Surprise". When we agree, she sits herself at our table and starts interviewing us for 15 minutes! What we like, what we don't like, what kind of food we would like emphasized etc. At the end of the 'interview' I asked "what will you be serving us then?". "You'll see" was all she would admit.

Liver-filled pastry [cmp]
Tiny gazpacho with scallop and mussel [cmp]
Cauliflower mousse in a soft-boiled egg holder [cmp]
Sliced scallops, made into a woven "pancake", fried in sesame oil. A similarly shaped "pancake" woven of different vegetables (tomato, aubergine, carrot, zucchini etc.). All that in sweet-pepper sauce !!!
Chopped lobster, cream and eggs, shaped into a cone. A big chunk of lobster meat. All in sweet and spicy red sauce !!
Slices of roasted pigeon and goose liver, in a stew sauce with sweet beans !!!
Veal sweetbread in balsamic vinegar, accompanied by five tiny stuffed vegetables !!!
Cheese: Epoisse, Roquefort, Amour de Nuits, etc.
Four sorbets, Creme Brulee, Iles Flotantes

Sweat pastries [cmp]
Strawberries zabaglione and grapefruit cream [cmp]
Petitfours and chocolates [cmp]

1/2 Meursault - Charmes '89 by Rougeot (a bit young and aggressive)
1/2 Grandes Echezeaux '83 by Mongeard-Mugneret (one of the best wines I ever had!!!)

Impossible to imagine a better gastronomic experience! The food was both imaginative, painstakingly carefully prepared and presented, everything harmoniously delicious. Friendly, dissalarming, attentive and faultless service.
The best restaurant I ever encountered! $300, Mark 10.

Auberge du Shoenenbourg (Keiner) - Riquewihr, Alsace YYY*

Dinner, one fixed menu and one a la carte.
Pate de Foie Maison !

Ravioli d'Escargots !

Big sea-shell, sealed by mille-feuille, filled with scallops !!
Langoustine and scallops in a pinkish cream sauce on a bed of multi-colored fetucini !!!

Deer meat-balls, filled with pheasant meat, in a rich gravy with nokerli noodles !!
Cheese: Muenster, chevre, etc.
Ice cream in chocolate leaf with sorbet and caramel "net" !

One bottle Riesling - Hugel 'Cuvee Personnel' '88 (excellent)
A glass of local Pinot-Noir (yuck!)
A glass of Vendange Tardive (unknown origin, but very good)

Superb food, elegant setting, efficient but cold service. $110, Mark 9.

Aux Armes de France (Gaertner) - Ammershwihr, Alsace YYY*

A family establishment in a two story, elegant, country house in a small village in Alsace.
Dinner, Menu Surprise.
Pastries with cheese, smoked lard and Choucroute
Terrin of lobster and cow's head !
Home-made foie-gras in gelatin, served with a spoon from a big bowl !!
Sherry-perfumed chicken soup with crushed almonds and liver-filled ravioli !!
Lobster in lemon and rosemary sauce served with pine mushrooms !
Fillet of Turbot (fish), in green herb-sauce !
Fillet of deer in dark gravy served with samollina 'cake' and celery puree !!
A "bath tub" of very thin wafer filled with cream, whipped-cream, and cherries in Amaretto

1/2 Riesling "Clos St. Hume" '85 Trimbach (super duper)
1/2 Ch. Moseyres, Pomerol '85 (not impressed)

Imaginative cooking, excellent service. $280, Mark 8+.

Auberge de l'Ill (Haeberlin) - Illhausern, Alsace YYYYY***

You can't get any higher than five red forks AND three stars!
This world famous gastronomic Mecca is located in a non-descript village in Alsace. A few small hotels sprang around this place to accommodate the hordes.
Both the Haeberlins treated us as if we were old-time friends. The chef, Paul Haeberlin came out of the kitchen after every dish, set down and wanted to know exactly how we liked his efforts. His brother, the Maitre d' practically set with us the whole evening.
Dinner, a la carte.
Trout terrin, wrapped in smoked salmon and shrimp, horseradish sauce [cmp]

Mousseline de Grenouilles !
(Delicate mousseline stuffed with frog-legs in dill sauce)

Le fillet d'Esturgeon roti sur un lit de chou et Choucroute "Misala" a la creme de Caviar !!!
A divine combination of six pieces of sturgeon fillet around a small heap of tender choucroute, topped with black caviar and surrounded by tiny potatoes in white sauce. The best fish-dish I ever tasted.
Le feuillete de Pigeonneau au Chou et aux Truffes !!
(Puffed pastry stuffed with pigeon and truffles)

Le Homard Prince Wladimir !!
(Oven baked lobster chunks in red sauce)
Sorbets and Crepes filled with cherries and cream, flambe in two kinds of Kirsch !!

Tart Tattin !

1 bottle Gewurztraminer - Kuntzbas '88 (delicious)
1/2 Mazis Chambertin '85 by Faiveley (a bit disappointing)

Certainly one of the best restaurants in the world. Although the owners and the staff did their best to let us feel at ease, we did feel we are in a kind of shrine. $350, Mark 10.

Les Crayeres (Gerard Boyer) - Reims, Champagne YYYY ***

Gerard Boyer and his charming wife run a luxury (and terribly expensive) 17-room hotel in the outskirts of Reims. She is in charge of the hotel, and he is the chef of its restaurant. The hotel is a gorgeous small palace surrounded by its own 7 hectar park. The inside of the hotel could fool anybody to believe it is a museum. Every room is decorated differently. Antic pieces, beautiful paintings, the whole atmosphere makes you think you are maybe a Louis something.
This is the only *** we ate in twice, as we stayed two days in the hotel. Both the Boyers and their Maitre d' are very friendly people. In spite of the (very) high price-tag, it is still a family run business, that radiates warmth and pleasantness to their guests.
First night, dinner, a la cart.
Liver mousse in bouillon sauce [cmp]

Pied de porc farci foie gras
(Pork leg, stuffed with goose liver, accompanied by a woven bouquet of vegetables and meat)

Ravioli Homard et Ris de Veau !!
(Ravioli stuffed with lobster meat and veal sweetbread in black mushroom sauce)
Fillet Rougets de Roche !!
(Red Sniper fillet, grilled in sour sauce with vegetable pie)

Fillet de Lievre juste roti !!!
(Fillet of hare, grilled in heavy game gravy with nuts, pears and grapes)
Coquille glasee au miel et figues !!
(Ice cream and thin pastry accompanied by figs cooked in honey and red sauce)

Petitfours and chocolates [cmp]

1/2 Champagne Laurent Perrier '88 (very nice)
1/2 Volnay - Le Caillerets '85 Domaine de la Pousse d'Or (superb)

$280 Mark 9++.
Second night, dinner, a la cart.
Ravioli stuffed with lobster and shrimp [cmp]

Saumon fume a la minute !!
(Salmon, lightly smoked on the spot with potatoes and caviar sauce)

Papillote de St. Jacques !
(Scallops, baked in tin-foil, served in truffles sauce)
Agneau, aubergine et artichaut !!!
(Very young lamb in herb sauce, accompanied by small crepes, stuffed with vegetables)

Canard de Challans aux Cepe !!
(Duck in rich sauce with mushrooms and potato pie)
Ravioles de Poire au Praline !

Petitfours and chocolates

Kir Royale
Bonnes Marres 85 Roumier (A great wine, not yet ready).

A truly great restaurant. $340, Mark 9+.

Jamin (Robuchon) - Paris YYYY***

A small, terribly expensive, snobbish, 'in' place in Paris.
Lunch, a la cart.
Three small skewers with smoked fish [cmp]

Ravioli de Langoustine au chou !

Rouelle de Langoustine a la vapeur aux herbes en civet !
(Meaty Langoustine in grill sauce and mushroom)
Pintade fermiere et foie gras !!!
(Guineafowl and goose liver)
Iles Flotantes

Petitfours and chocolates [cmp]

2 glasses Alsace Muscat (ok)
Chambolle Musigny '85 (so so)

$470 for lunch!!! Good food but almost indifferent service. The worst "value" restaurant I ever encountered. Mark 9.

Lucas Carton (Alain Senderens) - Paris YYYYY***

One of the most "Posh" restaurants in France.
Dinner, Fixed Menu "Le Classique". The uniqueness of this menu is that it include wine. Not only does it include the wine - you are served SEVEN different wines with the meal. Each dish comes with its own wine, and there are three just for the cheese!

Small skewer with hare, Ravioli with oyster [cmp]

Foie gras de canard au chou a la vapeur
Coquille St. Jacques en phillo, creme de cepe
Canard apicius roti au miel !!
(Duck, roasted with honey and spices)
Three different cheese with three different white wines. The only thing I remember is that the Muenster went with Gewurz
Gateau au chocolat coulant a la creme d'amandes ameres

Good service, unlimited wine, very interesting dinner $370, Mark 9.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.