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We have just returned from a 23 day "eating" trip to France. I have over 130 pages of notes and rather than go through all of it at once, I thought it would be best to either add up-to-date tasting notes on to previous posts or start a new thread if there wasn't an old one.

L'Arnsbourg was such a highlight that I thought it deserved to be mentioned first.

L'Arnsbourg was just awarded its third Michelin star in March. I immediately added it to our itinerary even though it was an-out-of-the-way stop.

Finding L'Arnsbourg in Untermuhlthal provided a major navigational challenge. It does not exist on the map. All you know is that it is attached to Baerenthal. If you blink your eye, you will miss the sign to Baerenthal and be lost on some D route to nowhere.

When you manage to see the sign you are directed to a tiny one lane road in the middle of a forest with no signage, no houses, no cows, just trees and more trees. All of a sudden a house appears in the middle of a clearing - this is the restaurant.

By now you have to be asking, Is it worth it?

A resounding YES!!!

The room is breath-taking. Huge picture windows provide 360 degree visibility of fields and woods. A small stream meanders underneath the restaurant. The ceiling is paneled in a light blond oak with tiny recessed lights. The color scheme is white--starched white linens with a white Berber rug, clear contemporary style water glasses, sparkling crystal wine glasses and a stylish clear glass bud vase containing one white orchid on each table.

The effect is pristine, elegant and inviting.

With the champagne we were served 3 amuse.

1. a small tart with tomatoes and basil

2. a roasted watermelon in a balsamic vinegar reduction served on a tooth pick--a first for us--hot watermelon - delicious.

3. roasted pepitas with a hint of sugar

Florence (the host) asked in French if we wanted her to use French or English for explanations of the cuisine. She asked in a most charming, warm way which we soon realized is the standard style of all employees at L'Arnsbourg. There is not one hint of snobbery or big shot-itis in this newest Michelin Three Star.

Florence agreed on French unless I looked befuddled and then the explanation would move to English. Florence could not have been more gracious, friendly and willing to explain everything so we would get the maximum pleasure from our first visit.

We decided on the Discovery Menu at 100 euros (about $ 100 each). This was one of the best values we have seen at a 3 star on this trip.

When Florence saw that I was starting to take notes, she quickly got a copy of the menu explaining that it would be easier. Throughout the meal she periodically checked my notes to make sure I was getting it right.

After the first 3 amuse, a surprise amuse was presented on a spoon--a slice of roasted celery in a balsamic vinegar glaze to be eaten in one bite.

We were still not ready to start the menu as 4 more amuse arrived. The four were presented on a dark wooden board set vertically pointing at the diner --Florence's instructions--eat the one nearest you first--work your way up.

1. herring in a light olive oil vinaigrette in a small white square dish

2. a foie gras cold mousse in a tiny cup

3 a parmesan crisp sandwich with parmesan mousse filling

4. a plump oyster in a shallot/balsamic reduction sauce presented in its shell on a bed of rock salt.

1st course -Chartreuse de Homard a la Tomato Confite--chartreuse does not refer to the liqueur but to a composed dish in alternating colored layers. On a large glass plate we received perfect pieces of lobster interspersed with tomato pieces that resembled sun- dried tomato more than a confit. All was presented with a light lemon oil vinaigrette. At the front of the plate a triangle of toast acted as the buttress to a larger piece of shaved parmesan cheese.

On the side of the dish a small plastic pipette (eye dropper) was presented with extra oil to be added to the dish if you wanted it - an El Bulli type touch, but in this case totally reasonable and certainly not impractical--it did not reek of the Veyrat syringe either just a sort of neat way to present some extra oil - clever.

2nd course--a perfectly grilled rouget with balsamic vinegar reduction and basil oil on a bed of mashed potatoes that tasted as if they had been strained (a la baby food). The balsamic and basil had been painted on the plate. Wonderful.

3rd course--on another large glass plate there were 4" x 4" squares of red topped by sprinkles of green. This was a type of terrine -the bottom layer, lightly roasted still crunchy watermelon, small diced grape tomatoes with finely minced chiffonnaded basil . Also on the plate was a balsamic reduction.

4th course--black truffles and potatoes --this is a signature dish.

In a shallow bowl there were mashed potatoes made with olive oil not butter. The potatoes were topped with a bit of potato foam. Then a topping of sliced black truffles made the dish look like the most deluxe potatoes anna you have ever seen--finally a touch of sel de mar on the very top.

When Florence removed my husband's absolutely clean plate she laughed and said, "I bet you would like another?" She was reading his mind.

5th course--a small demi-tasse cup of a cappuccino of small peas with a bit of olive oil and fennel topped with finely grated bittersweet chocolate that looked like nutmeg.

The dish worked unlike Veyrat's dish with the walnut-sized hunk of chocolate. (I will report on our Veyrat meal in another thread. Enough to say here that it was less than satisfying). The dish was perfectly balanced without the mixture of sweet + savory. There was no sweetness at all. Wonderful--different, but it worked.

6th course--canon de pigeon releue au wasabi, legumes aux epices--2 pieces of pigeon meat, sliced thick. It was seasoned with wasabi and topped by a small thin stripe of wasabi and lemon zest.

The sauce was a glazed caramel reduction with a hint of cacoa.

The chef presented 4 turned vegetables--carrot, celery, beet and one mystery green one that I could not identify.

The dish was absolutely wonderful, the wasabi was not over powering, but it certainly woke up your palate.

This was definitely one of the best "new type" dishes we had on the trip. This is the kind of culinary innovation we would like to experience regularly instead of some of the way out stuff for the sake of inventiveness without regard to taste.

7th course--they called it Invitation to Discovery.

This was great fun and an example of the great creativity that must have been one of the reasons for Michelin awarding the 3rd star to a small, totally out of the way restaurant that is 3rd generation of a local family.

On 4 small white plates, there was a series of little presentations--7 tests of your palate.

Other diners were not playing --but, I can never resist a challenge. We did not do too badly and Florence certainly enjoyed teasing us and playing along.

1. a rectangular pastry--my guess was a snickerdoodle -- one for us.

2. a red square with a dot of sugar - rose water and tomato--one for the house.

3. a round mound - peanut butter (2 for us)

4. a melon wrapped in a gelee on a toothpick - cantaloupe which we got with white chocolate and a honey gelee which we did not get - 2 for the house--tie game.

5-a small tart--lemon meringue pie (3 for us)

6. a square white mound with a bit of crunched almond - recognized the gelatin and sugar but didn't identify it correctly as marshmallow - tie again.

7. another small tart=apple brown betty - right! 4 for us.

What fun - a very good idea.

The history of the Klein family is fascinating. The grandmother started the restaurant. Her daughter received the first Michelin Star. In the current generation the kitchen role has been taken over by the son, and his sister, Kathy, is in the front of the house.

There are some restaurant experiences that are fun with interesting, innovative, eatable food. L'Arnsbourg is at the top of the list. The addition of personable, friendly, highly professional staff with ambiance that is breath-taking made L'Arnsbourg a wonderful, rewarding experience.

The only negative, if it can be called a negative, is that basically the restaurant could be anywhere in the world--New York, Paris, San Francisco.

This is not a regional Alsatian restaurant or a French Restaurant. It is an international restaurant and a must for all serious diners. The only problem is the need for a GPS and hopefully an attached inn.


98 Beaune, Clos des Mouches, Drouhin which drank perfectly--crisp, clean and well matched to Chef Klein's food.

94 Clos Vougeot, Georges Mungeret--very nice--again well matched. Burgundy is, in my opinion, the wine of choice with this food. Making the choice again and with enough budget, I might pick a bit bigger wine, but the 94 Clos Vougeot was good.

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Thanks for the intriguing review. We just came back from a wonderful, though much less extensive trip, having made stops at Maison de Bricourt in Cancale, Pattrick Jeffroy in Carantec, Michel Trama in Puymirol, Moulin de Lourmarin and l'Oasis in La Napoule. The meals at Cancale and Lourmarin were brilliant -- the latter seemed a lot like what you described (a young man, trained at Veyrat and Chapelle clearly bucking for his third star). L'Oasis much better than has been described by others on this board. I don't have your notes and therefore wouldn't try to elaborate, but I'd be interested if you encountered any of the forgoing and would provide a report.

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lizziee - loved the review. Looking forward to more from your enviable trip.

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The only restaurant we have been to recently from the ones you mentioned is Trama's and that was last year not this year. BLH - more posts will be forthcoming, but with 3 huge cartons of junk mail plus laundry etc., it will take some time.

Briefly, this year's trip started in Paris, then to Vonnas, Roanne, St Bonnet, Lyon, Annecy, Geneva, Illhauesern, Strasbourg, Reims and then back to Paris. Enough to say that this year's trip was way too many euros (Robert Brown is absolutely correct) plus added a lot of pounds to an expanding waist line.

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Peter, I hope you, and Lizee as well, post messages about your trip on threads with titles that will will lead readers to the information that may interest them rather than having to dig it out.

Lizee, I think it's often helpful to start new threads on detailed restaurant reports, even if the restaurant has been the subject of previous thread. Often a member looking for recent information may not start a long thread that begins a year or more ago. Sometimes it's best to do each restaurant separately and at other times it's interesting to focus on an area or to compare certain restaurants. Of course, sometimes it is best to add to an old thead, so I leave that all to your decision. I just wanted to raise the issues.

I have mixed feelings about missing the anticipated activity here over the next few weeks as I will be having my own meals to think about. We are leaving for a couple of weeks in Paris and the provinces south of Paris--mostly the Loire, but a bit of Burgundy and Berry, I suppose. We have a single three star meal lined up in Paris, but the rest of our meals will be distrubuted among interesting one, two and no star restaurants out of consideration for our bank account, waistline and the fact that I feel deprived of a certain experience when we don't eat at the little local places. What's clear from your description of the food as l'Arnsbourg could have been served in Paris, New York or Barcelona. That's not a criticism of Klein or his cuisine, just an observation of how international haute cuisine is becoming, not just in the capital cities, but in the provinces as well. It does't lessen the three star food or make them any less worth the voyage..

Post well. I will have a lot of good reading upon my return. I am sorry I will not be able to comment on your posts in a timely fashion.

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Thanks for the suggestion and I will post new threads instead of adding on to older ones. I am interested to know which 3 star you decided on in Paris and why?

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... and why?
What are you, a psychiatrist? :biggrin:

Gagnaire, and sometimes I want to know why I do what I do. :wink:

It's been five years since we've dined at Gagnaire. At this point, we've still dined at less than half of the three stars in Paris, but Gagnaire interests me more than most of the others and the one meal we had there, the year he opened in Paris, was among the most stunning meals we've had anywhere, although we hated the desserts and didn't eat them. Grand Vefour, for the first time, and a return to Arpege were both high on my list. There are other restaurants that call as well. I have learned to pace myself in eating after a disasterous experience several years back when a surfeit of foie gras left me incapacitated for several days in Paris after a trip to the southwest. We tend to moderate our restaurant choices and see that our eyes match our stomachs. Maxence, a one star, is one of our other plans for Paris. I had heard good things about Van Laer, the chef, at his previous restaurant, and a tasting of his terrine de Lievre au chocolate at the Salon du Chocolate last November made a big impression on me, but our dance card was too full for us to dine there then. We expect to take a couple of meals at little places suggested by, and with, friends and acquaintances in Paris and we have left a couple of days free to return to an old favorite brasserie or bistro as the mood strikes and if we are lucky enough to get a last minute reservations.

From there we move on to the provinces and as I've explained in another thread, a few two star inns with free days in between have turned into a set itinerary of one and two star restaurants, most of them with better than average marks in GM for their star ranking, but looking at the Michelin map, they all seem to be the logical choices I would have ended up making if we were touring without an itinerary. Of course some are cancellable at the last minute, I suppose, but that's not likely. I regard the R&C places as uncancellable in light of current onerous policies regarding cancellations less one month in advance. I cherish the romantic notion of driving in the French countryside without a care or a reservation, but my wife almost always makes a convincing argument for booking almost every night.

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Apologies I hadn't gotten around to cleaning up the below write-up until lizziee's post reminded me of my 2Q 2002 meal at L'Arnsbourg:

Menu Decouverte (a bargain 100 euros)

Petits Savoureux Aperitifs (Small Savory Aperatifs)

Saint-Jacques et foie Gras de Canard Marines, Petite Salade d’Artichauts et Truffes (Scallops and Duck Foie Gras, Small Salad of Artichokes and Truffles)

Homard – Theme: Autour du Homard (Addition to tasting menu: Lobster -- Theme Surrounding Lobster)

Soupe de Coco, Rouget au Curry de Madras (Soup of White Beans, Red Mullet and Curry of Madras)

Fine Tartelette de Truffes a la “Carbonara” (Truffle Tartlet "Carbonara" style)

Croustillant de Langoustine, Jus au Coraille (Croustillant of Langoustine, Saucing from its coraille)

Cappucino de Pommes de Terre et Truffes (Cappucino of Potatoes and Truffles)

Canon de Pigeon releve au Wasabi, Legumes aux Epices (Pigeon with Wasabi, Vegetables with Spices)

Invitation a la Decouverte (Invitation to Discovery)

Petites Galeries de Fin de Repas (Various Items at End of Meal)

Glass of Billecart Saumon N.V.

Mersault Les Charmes, Lafon 1997 (200 euros)

L’Arnsbourg is located in the Vosges, which were a lighter green with respect to significant wooded areas than I imagined. The housing structure set is relatively plain-looking, although one can see from the front the side of the main dining room (on the LHS, when one is facing the house from the road). A country-like exterior. However, once the front door is pushed, one enters a darkened entryway with an automatic door on the left hand side. The salon has limited light, and gives this part of the facility a plush, mysterious sensation. The main feature of the salon were sets of crocodile-skin-patterned, brown sofas with straight, rectangular/square lines. There was a Chinese medicine cabinet with orange patterns, several large urns (one elbow-height at least) with Asian connotations and a sixteenth century Asian/Middle Eastern-type door that adorned the coat closet. There were little spotlights strategically illuminating certain of the above items. Also, a large part of the salon faced a showcase part of the wine cellar, with partitioned storage areas for certain bottles. Certain parts of the salon had wood cubbyholes for fancier digestifs bottles, some Riseling bottles and a bottle of not-too-old Mersault. Interestingly, there were 2-3 squares of see-through glass on the floor of the salon that revealed crates of wine.

Little amuses arrive in the salon. The amuses are two little tartlets – tomato and pesto on a thin biscuit; also tartlet with egg, onion and bacon (hot). Also served are candied pistachios.

The better part of the restaurant is akin to an area with significant glass exposure (almost to the bottom of the floor, if I recollect) on three sides. One overlooks the greenness of the Vosges, and there is a sense of naturalness and beauty. Behind that are seats that are less exposed to the natural beauty of the region. My table on the LHS, looking from the entryway to the main dining room. It is not in the “front tow” overlooking the hills, but has considerable views. Nice. There are white orchids, bound by a row of bamboo stalks. Very beautiful. Each table has a slightly different orchid presentation.

A little spoon arrives with a confit of carrots and coffee. Not bad.

Petits Savoureux Aperitifs, Then, 4 small items on a long brown-colored serving plate/tray. Three are square, and there is a little white cup as well. First, beetroot slices with caviar and lemon zest and olive oil. Nice acidity, and a bit sweet. Significant fleur de sel was incorporated. Second, a garlic veloute with escargots and parsley at the bottom. The emulsion is quite garlic-tasting, and there is star anise powder on top. Third, a parmesan square with two crunch sides. Finally, oysters a la diable – in their shell. Soya and sweetness – nice, and an interesting utilization of gelee (not clear like Meneau/Dutournier/Savoy – more interestingly-flavored with “red” connotations).

Saint-Jacques et foie Gras de Canard Marines, Petite Salade d’Artichauts et Truffes Foie gras with scallops in a gentle terrine. There were crushed truffles and truffle oil, black pepper and fleur de sel and possibly nuts on top. There were also artichokes with black truffles and fleur de sel. This dish went wonderfully with the Mersault Charmes 1997, Lafon.

Homard – Theme: Autour du Homard. The lobster is presented in a rectangular shape, with slices of lobster making up that shape. Also interspersed among the lobster slices in a methodical way were truffles slices, sweet (really so) tomatoes (whole, small, perhaps compressed). There was too much truffle oil.

Soupe de Coco, Rouget au Curry de Madras. Here, there were tarragon components. This was good.

Fine Tartelette de Truffes a la “Carbonara”. I liked this dish less as a preparation of truffles. It was too strong, with a cream sauce and bacon. An interesting play off the saucing in Italian cuisine.

Croustillant de Langoustine, Jus au Coraille. This was a weird presentation, involving some type of syringe that I cannot recollect. It has lobster as well as langoustines? The langoustines were skewered on a long stick.

Cappucino de Pommes de Terre et Truffes.

Canon de Pigeon releve au Wasabi, Legumes aux Epices. I liked this dish as well.

Invitation a la Decouverte. There were cantalope balls with a transparent sheet and mint. Then, yoghurt and gelee and passionfruit with dots. Sesame with jus. Coffee in the salon.

A beautiful evening. I would agree with lizziee that Klein deserves a third star, although the cuisine here is not among the strongest of the three-stars. :laugh:

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Thanks Liz and Cabrales for the thorough and enlightening coverage of L'Arnsbourg. I can see I will have to make an effort to dine there.

Peter R., I am glad yu made out well at Lourmarin and that my somewhat negative post did not deter you. I hope you will ost abuot the France part of your trip as you visited some addresses I am interested to hear about.

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... and why?
What are you, a psychiatrist? :biggrin:

No, a psychologist!

Smile when you say that. :biggrin:

In that case you may know why I do what I do better than I do. In either case I'm not losing any sleep about not knowing why I do what I do or not knowing if you know. :laugh:

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I haven't practised for years so if I used to know why you do what you do, I don't now. My abilities, now, center on putting fork to mouth.

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The November 2002 edition of Gourmet contains a half-page write-up on L'Arnsbourg. Excerpts follow:

"When L'Arnsbourg won its third Michelin star this year, it was the apotheosis of a family enterprise that began in 1920 with the founding of a tavern on a remote road in the woods of France's Moselle region . . . . In 1989, Jean-Georges, who had trained in Paris with Alain Senderens [note another three-star chef who trained under Senderens], became chef . . . . 'We don't want to shock,' says Cathy. 'Instead, we want to overhwlem with unimagined pleasures.' Every meal in the handsome wood-paneled dining room begins with four hors d'oeuvres that provide a miniature workout of salt, sour, sweet and bitter for the palate: for example, an escabeche of Collioure anchovies with tiny cubes of carrot and celery root; garlic cream garnished with licorice-root powder on top of parsley puree and a snail; a crunchy mini-sandwich of parmesan; and an oyster drizzled with a combination of soy sauce, Tabasco, ginger and tomato. . . ."

The article notes that the Le Kirchberg hotel, 011-33-3-87-98-97-70) is three miles up the road.

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During 2Q 2002, the a la carte menu of L'Arnsbourg (excluding desserts) was as follows (very rough translations.; dishes included in tasting menu also excluded) --

Millefeuille de foie gras d'oie et figue, gelee de banyuls (Millefeuille of goose foie gras and figs, gelee of Banyuls)

Foie gras de canard confit aux epices et son "chutney", grillade de foie gras de canard au Baerewecka (Duck foie gras with spices and "chutney"; foie gras with Baerewecka?)

Cocotte de fruits et legumes (Cocotte of fruits and vegetables)

Croustillant de langoustine, jue au corail (petite portion); langoustines poelees, croustillant de pommes de terre, salade d'herbes (Croustillant of langoustine, with a jus of its corail, in small portion; pan-fried langoustines, with a croustillant of potato and a salad of herbs)

Saint-Jacques et foie gras marines, petites salade d'artichauts et truffes; noix de saint-jacques poelees, soupe de nougat (Scallops and foie gras, marinated, small salad of artichokes and truffles; pan-fried scallops, soup of nougat??)

Cuisses de grenouilles aux herbs et coriandre (Frogs' legs with herbs and coriander)

Dos de carrelet, pistaches et bigorneaux, coulis de petits pois (Meat? with pistachios and welk/periwinkle-like item, coulis of peas)

Soupe de coco, rouget au curry de Madras (Soup of white beans, red mullet with Madras curry)

Trocon de turbot poche, Hollandaise au clou de girofle (Piece of turbot, Hollandaise with cloves)

St-Pierre infuse au laurier en croute de sel pour deux personnes (John Dory infused with bay leaves in a salt crust, for two people)

Loup de mer au fenouil pour deux personnes (Sea bass with fennel, for two people)

Volaille farcie d'aromates, cuisinee en cocotte pour deux personnes (Poultry stuffed with aromatics, cooked in a cocotte, for two people)

Poitrine de Pigeon, sauce au gingembre (Front part of pigeon, ginger sauce)

Supreme de canette rotie, jus a l'infusion de feve de tonka (Breast of roasted duckling, jus from an infusion of tonka beans)

Effiloche de lapin aux baies de geievre (Rabbit dish)

Cote de veau de lait poelee, pour deux personnes, oignons confits, tombees d'epinards et carottes (Pan-fried side of milk-fed veal, for two people, confit onions, side of spinach and carrots)

Noix de rognon de veau, sauce a l'orange (Veal kidney, orange sauce)

Carre de porcelet au foin pour deux personnes (Side of some meat, in hay, for two people)

L'Assiette autour de l'agneau (Dish around lamb -- I wonder how this compares to Guy Savoy's dish of lamb in all of its states, as mentioned by blind lemon higgins)

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This is a belated response to your Alsace report, belated because I just came across it today.

I visited all three restaurants, L'Arnsbourg, Auberge de l"Ill and Beurehiesel last summer.

I am in 100% agreement with your opinions, Liziee- blown away by L'Arnsbourg,highly pleased with Auberge de l"Ill and unimpressed by Beurehiesel.

As to L'Arnsbourg, you omitted the(to me) phenomenon: the way those waitresses literally RACED around that room. The speed with which they flew in and out of that room and from table to table was a spectacle unprecedented in my restaurant experience - a sight which was a source of continuous fascination.

We were also stunned by the way that parking lot filled up. In the afternoon it was empty, sitting in the woods in the middle of absolutely nowhere. At night every parking space was filled. I asked Madam where all the people came from. She shrugged- she had no idea. Unbelievable.

As to the Auberge de l'Ill, the hotel was luxurious, our treatment regal. The aperitif in the garden while they prepare to call you to your table after you have made your menu choices, the beautiful dining room, the elegant service.

I contrast all that with the last time I was there-1965! No hotel then, the restaurant not nearly its present size.My wife and I ate there six nights out of seven- they were closed one night during the week. We stayed up on the mountain at Trois Epis and drove down there every night, determined to eat thru the entire menu. By the fourth night M Haberlein, the outside brother, finally noticed us. "Ah, les amoreux de gastronomie" he exclaimed. We told him we had two more nights to go, fully expecting to receive royal treatment on our last night, complimentary champagne, or wine or at least after-dinner liqueur.Of course, we received rien.

On this trip he came around after dinner, looking pretty ancient. I recounted my story, he had absolutely no recollection of the whole episode. I'm sure I hold the recrd for the most consecutive dinners there.

Nothing much to say about Beurehiesel.Very unimpressive and unmemorable. I fail to see why they have 3 stars.But what does impress me is you, Lizziee. How could you possibly eat that lunch at L'Arnsbourg and then show up for dinner the same night at Beurehiesel??

Where in heaven's name do you get the capacity?

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As to your question, "Where in heaven's name do you get the capacity?", my husband keeps asking that very same question. I don't have a clue and I know I should weigh over 300 pounds. Thank goodness I have the capacity and I weigh in at a normal rate.

We were at L'Arnsbourg for lunch and it was very unhurried. The room was not at all at full capacity so the pace of the staff was probably at half speed.

I am in complete agreement with you on your reaction to all 3 restaurants, although we might have been able to make at better connection at Auberge de l'Ill as we stayed there. If and when you go again, I would suggest that you request the Fisherman's Cottage - quite an experience.

I don't have a clue why Beurehiesel has retained 3 stars. The only dish that I thought was extraordinary was the frogs legs preparation. Other than that, it was less than remarkable.

Where else on your France trip did you go? I would be interested in any and all of your reactions.

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Alsace was the only part of France we stopped in last summer- we were winding up a trip that started in Italy and then went to Grindelwald.

Off and on over the last forty years we've gone on endless driving trips from restaurant to restaurant in France. . There is hardly a restaurant of any note that we havent visited at one time or another( also including Girardet in Crissier,one of the worst and Robuchon four times in Paris, the absolute best).But I'm getting a little long in the tooth for this insanity and the trip coming up this May will probably be the finale.We re going to Spain - a first - seven days in Barcelona, then Can Fabes, then El Bulli(with a mixture of elation at having hit the entrance lottery and trepidation at your drastically negative report). Then Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, almost the only one we've missed, then Troisgros(for the umpteenth time ) and then Paris.

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Be sure to check out Robert's extraordinary post re Barcelona -- he has cut and pasted past posts and it is truly a magnificent report.

Like you, we have traveled on our stomachs for years and also find that age as well as the strength of the euro is making it harder every year. This years trip has been reduced drastically in time and will include more days in Spain, for us the San Sebastian area.

From current reports on El Bulli - Bux and Robert - I hope that what we experienced was an aberration in 2001. In 2000, we had 2 of the most remarkable meals ever.

Where are you planning on eating in Paris?

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I trust you will all report on your trips to Catalonia, but in the Spain forum where we're buidling up a collection of good posts on eating in Spain. For bettter or worse Spain presents a very different experience than France although it's beginning to offer pockets of chef driven haute cuisine.

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We will be in Barcelona May 13-20,Can Fabes May 21 and El Bulli May22.

We would be delighted to meet you for dinner Steve,or any others of you, if our dates coincide.

Yes, Lizziee, I saw Robert's compilation of posts on Barcelona last week and complimented him on it then.

You are right, Bux, the Spain posts should be kept separate from the French- but in this case its hard to keep them from overlapping.

As far as Paris goes, Lizziee, we will be there only three nights, starting on a Sunday(May 25). On Sundays choices are limited, but we are happy to be going to the Bristol, which has received great praise on this board. A few years ago on a Sunday we went to the Ambassadeurs at the Crillon and the dinner was outstanding, one of our best ever. We intended to go back this time, but got a jolt when they lost that star, so we are switching to the Bristol.

The next two nights will be nostalgia trips , first to Laperouse, then to Ledoyen. Many are the great dinners we had at those two joints in the 60s and 70s( and also Chez Garin and Chez Denis, for those of you old enough to remember) I read your report on Ledoyen with great interest, Lizziee. I hope they still have the mushroom soup on the menu!

I am pretty well disgusted with the insane prices the Paris 3 star restaurants charge.At one time or another I have sampled almost all of them,

some when they were only 2 stars like Grand Vefour and Senderens when he was at Archestrate and I am unwilling to contribute further to their insanity. Ledoyen is an exception because of nostalgia.

Before ending this interminable post, I'll recount something interesting about Gagnaire.Some years ago at

Jamin I asked the captain if Robuchon has any favorites in the provinces- after all, who should know better than the master himself? He said Robuchon had recently returned from a province trip and was greatly impressed with a chef named Gagnaire in St. Etienne. So naturally on our next trip we sought out St. Etienne, almost as remotely located as Bras at Laguiole. The place was deserted. I mean we were the ONLY customers. The captain said Gagnaire was out of town. The dinner was mediocre.

Not too much later I read that he had gone bankrupt- surprise!- and then after that I read that he had found backers to open a place in Paris. The rest is history. We ate at his Paris place once, it was marvellous- but I wouldn't pay his prices again.

BTW my name is Cy- the cyn handle results from some stupid confusion

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Cy, so much for my being the only member to have dined at Chez Denis. It was the place that was my initiation into the glories of dining in France from which, as they say, I never looked back. It was in May of 1974, perhaps six months before Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey had the famous Channel 13 auction meal offered by American Express. I got to dine there two more times. I also wondered what happened to the chef and his brother, Claude et Michel Mornay, who I think took over the restaurant from Denis, who, I also think, stayed on nonetheless until he lost his life in a car accident in Spain. I have a text about the restaurant, part of Nicolas de Rabaudy's book, "Guide des Meilleurs Restaurants de France".

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