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Ken Fox

Burgundy Update

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I spend a month in France twice a year, one month in the spring and another in the fall. In fact, I'm posting this from France right now, although I am technically in Corsica (which is part of France). I have yet to have a meal I'd bother posting about here in Corsica, so I'll confine my comments to the 4 places I eat at frequently in Burgundy, all of which I have eaten in during the last 9 days.

Burgundy is my favorite region in France, so I spend half my time in France there, which adds up to a month a year. My 4 regular restaurants in the region are, from north to south, Ma Cuisine in Beaune, Lameloise in Chagny, and the two great one stars of Tournus, Aux Terrasses and Greuze.

Ma Cuisine is of course the famous unstarred bistro in Beaune that all the winemakers eat in. It is run by a couple, the Escoffiers, Pierre who runs the dining room, and his wife Fabienne, the chef. The place has a stupendous wine list with an encyclopedic list of Burgundies at very reasonable prices. Fabienne cooks up very tasty fare, and in my view makes the best soups I have ever eaten, anywhere (available only during cold weather months, in my experience). The menu choices are written on a chalkboard daily. This is a bustling place, and in addition to the excellent food and wine, the surroundings are always a surprise depending upon who else is dining there, in this always-full restaurant that is only open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. If you want to eat here, reserve ahead, as drop ins are greeted by the always present "restaurant complet" sign in the window of the front door.

Lameloise, with three well-deserved stars in Michelin, has a new chef, Eric Pras, who has replaced the now retired Jacques Lameloise. Eric is an MOF, or "MEILLEURS OUVRIERS DE FRANCE." This is quite an honor, something almost impossible to get, however that would not in and of itself make the place worth a visit. Fréderic Lamy has taken over the direction of the establishment. Fréderic is a nephew of Jacques on the other side of the family. All of the foregoing is of no importance whatsoever, if one is looking for good food. As a long time (20+ years) devoted fan of the place, I can say with no reservations that the food is better than before, with Eric as the chef. He is a gifted, talented, and creative chef, who moved over to Lameloise from Regis Marcon (another 3 star) to replace Jacques. Eric has actually improved the old standard Lameloise dishes that remain. As an example, the Millefeuille de homard appears to have a lot less fat in it than before, presumably less mayo, and is still cohesive, a hard feat to pull off. The Tarte Fine aux pommes (a dessert; best apple tart anywhere) now has a bed of chopped apple under the ice cream (granny smith flavor!) which used to be put in a separate dish but is now put directly on the tarte and does not melt because it is on a bed of cool apples instead of being on top of the hot tart. Eric and Fréderic have retained all the staff, and the feel of the place is as it always was, like a really good neighborhood restaurant. I can't recommend the place enough.

Moving south, we have two terrific one stars in Tournus, in the Maconnais. Aux Terrasses has been around a long time and the changes there have been very much evolutionary, under the direction of the Carrette family. After the death of Michel, the longtime chef, I feared for the future of the place, but his son Jean-Michel came back home from Troisgros where he was working as a chef, and has made continual improvements in the cuisine which just keeps getting better and better. Jean-Michel's wife Amandine and his mother Henriette run the dining rooms and have continued to renovate them to make them even more comfortable. This place is one of the most reliable one star places I've ever found and the prices remain extremely reasonable.

The other Tournus one star is the recently revitalized Restaurant Greuze. This place was once a two star under the direction of Jean Ducloux, who is now in his nineties and hasn't run the restaurant for a decade. He was replaced by another chef who put the place in bankruptcy, and it has now been rescued by Yohann Chapuis, recently former second chef at Lameloise, under Jacques Lameloise. Yohann had the opportunity to take Greuze out of bankruptcy and did that more than a year ago, and the results have been impressive. Quite astonishingly, Yohann was able to get a star after only running the restaurant for a few months. Yohann is a very creative chef, and I remember well the dishes he created at Lameloise, such as St. Jacques suspendus (basically scallops served on a platform elevated above the plate), as one example, which is lamentably not available at either Lameloise or Greuze, anymore, as far as I know. Yohann's wife Stéphanie runs the dining room at Greuze, which is a large single salon with small alcove that holds 3 additional tables, located in a historic building. The food is simply excellent. The first couple times I ate at Greuze the wine list was lacking, a reflection of what the earlier chef had left behind, however that has now been completely fixed and Greuze now boasts a very complete wine list with very reasonable prices for a restaurant of this class.

Tournus has now become a great dining destination, in addition to being one of the more charming Burgundian villages. With two great restaurants it deserves a multi-day visit, and can be used as a base for visiting surrounding towns extending southward to Macon and northward to Chalon sur Saone. Aux Terrasses is a nice, if somewhat modest hotel that one could base in (I do). It is not the Ritz, but then it doesn't have prices like the Ritz, and if basic it is very clean and well kept up, with flat screen TVs in the rooms and plumbing that actually works :biggrin:

There you have it, my four, no risk places to eat in Burgundy, which I eat in multiple times each every year. I can't recommend these places too much, they are simply terrific and that is why I eat in them so often. All of these places will treat you graciously and make you feel welcome, something that you can't put a price on, but that you will really notice when you walk in the front door.

ken


Edited by Ken Fox (log)

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Great writeup! My wife and I have visited Burgundy for the past two summers... We loved Ma Cuisine... the wine list is superb with veryn fair prices and excellent cooking. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Interestingly enough, of all the writeups I see of that place, no one seems to mention the 2 some-odd pages of their wine list devoted to Chateau Yquem sauternes!!! Plus, the pyramid of empty Yquem bottles in the corner...

We also loved Lameloise.... agree with everything you said.... another great spot in Chagny (on a much lower level though) came from a recommendation from the Lameloise staff - it's around the corner - Le grenier de Sel or something like that... in this old Burgundian stone building - a great place for Charollais beef grilled on their wood grill in the middle of the dining room, or classic burgundian fondue, with choices of meats (I loved the duck) and various dipping mayos...

If making your way to Chablis, a great spot to stop is in Joigny, which I'm sure everyone knows about, also *** is Jean Michel Lorain's La Cote St. Jacques... I cannot recommend this place highly enough... In my opinion, if Lameloise is worth the *** (which I think it is), then JML is worth **** if there were such a thing... simply an amazing experience from beginning to end with undending creativity...

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This evening, I just had dinner with my daughter at Lameloise. The service was excellent with all the employees having worked there for many years and the food was traditional Burgundy, it was tasty but way too heavy. I had the two classics, the pomme with escargot to begin and pigeon with truffles as my main dish. I had to walk around the block a few times to begin the digestion process following dinner. I had a long conversation with the new management who informed me that the majority of the clientel is foreign, namely American and today on a Sunday it was 2/3 full. After a long discussion about the wines with the sommelier concerning the wines I was seeking, I was dissapointed with the recommendation and had to send it back, the replacement was not great either. This was my experience today and I don't understand all the high praises that people keep on lavishing on the place. Although, to be fair, this was my daughter's first experience at a three star restaurant. She enjoyed the experience and especially a few of the minor details including her entree which was more creative than my entree (escargot prepared with fresh basil, swiss chard and onions and wrapped in a wide pasta), and the pre-dessert which was an exotic fruit mousse. She also enjoyed the chardonnay that I had chosen to pair with her dishes-crisp and fairly well balanced. For her entry, she enjoyed turbot on a calamari risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, fried onions and a carmelized onion reduction-tasty but also heavy with lots of butter.

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This evening, I just had dinner with my daughter at Lameloise. The service was excellent with all the employees having worked there for many years and the food was traditional Burgundy, it was tasty but way too heavy. I had the two classics, the pomme with escargot to begin and pigeon with truffles as my main dish. I had to walk around the block a few times to begin the digestion process following dinner. I had a long conversation with the new management who informed me that the majority of the clientel is foreign, namely American and today on a Sunday it was 2/3 full. After a long discussion about the wines with the sommelier concerning the wines I was seeking, I was dissapointed with the recommendation and had to send it back, the replacement was not great either. This was my experience today and I don't understand all the high praises that people keep on lavishing on the place. Although, to be fair, this was my daughter's first experience at a three star restaurant. She enjoyed the experience and especially a few of the minor details including her entree which was more creative than my entree (escargot prepared with fresh basil, swiss chard and onions and wrapped in a wide pasta), and the pre-dessert which was an exotic fruit mousse. She also enjoyed the chardonnay that I had chosen to pair with her dishes-crisp and fairly well balanced. For her entry, she enjoyed turbot on a calamari risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, fried onions and a carmelized onion reduction-tasty but also heavy with lots of butter.

I can tell you from 20+ years of experience with Lameloise, and in the last 5 years 12-15 dinners per year, that the majority of the clientele is most specifically NOT American, and I doubt that Mr. Lamy would have intended to give you that impression. Last week there were a lot of Americans there; a high end bike tour stayed there (in the hotel, and ate nightly in the restaurant) for 3 days in a row and they numbered around 25 individuals, plus one night a canal boat cruise full of Americans was there also. I happened to be there during that period so I know that from personal experience. But in general I've encountered relatively few Americans there, especially since the dollar has tanked. The foreigners that I see there the most are either other Europeans or Japanese.

As to the food being heavy, you really have to be joking :biggrin: This is not the sort of food that your cardiologist (or gastroenterologist; take your pick) would recommend, nor is that to be found in any other restaurant of this category. If you actually eat everything they put on your table, you are talking about (maybe) 5000 calories for dinner. A little judgement is called for . . . . both in ordering, and in how much of the extra "free stuff" they put in front of you, that you consume. I never have cheese and dessert both, the same dinner, and frequently order half portions in a place like this.

As regards the wine, there is no accounting for taste. I can, however, tell you how wine is chosen for the Lameloise wine list, as I understand the process quite well, and have even accompanied the sommeliers on a couple of tasting visits with them on prior trips (I will go with them again, the first week of Nov., for 2 winery visits).

There are 3 sommeliers at Lameloise (one just retired and has now been replaced, but the total # remains the same). One day a week they visit 2 or 3 domaines, and spend approximately one and a half hours at each place. While there, they taste basically everything the domaine has, both in bottle and out of barrels. They all take notes on every thing they taste. At the end of the visit the three of them discuss their impressions together and if they find something that they like as a group, then they propose it to the owner and the chef, who will then taste it also later and then decide, as a whole group, whether one or two of the wines of the domaine in question will go on the wine list.

Lameloise considers its wine list as a showcase for the wines of the Cote Chalonaise, the Cote de Beaune, and the Cote de Nuits (and to a smaller extent, maybe, to the Burgundian wines from further north, such as Chablis). Most Burgundy producers consider it an honor to be listed on the Lameloise wine list and actively seek that distinction; it is the best restaurant in the region. As such, the sommeliers will not except in very rare situations have more than two wines from any one domaine on the list, as they want to have wines from as many domaines as possible, realizing that there is no way they can have wines on the list from all of them. When the sommeliers recommend a wine to the owner and the chef, it is not always because it is the very best of the wines that they tasted at a domaine (which might be at a level that is duplicative of many other offerings they have on their list, already). Rather, it might in an individual case be because a particular wine or wines they tasted at the domaine offered an especially good price-value relationship and as such filled a niche at a particular price point for a particular type of wine that they felt could benefit the list.

All of the above is not to excuse the fact that you did not like the wine you got served there (for whatever reason) but to explain that these people take their wine list very seriously, and what goes onto that list only gets on that list after a lot of time and sincere effort on their part.

I think that if you compare the prices for wine on the Lameloise list with the exact same wines on other lists at other restaurants of its class, you will see that Lameloise's prices are very reasonable in comparison.

What I value the most about Lameloise is CONSISTENCY. I have found it to be an incredibly consistent place where dishes are very rarely less than outstanding, which cannot be said for any other 3 star place I have dined in where I have had a number of expensive disappointments, and for this reason generally avoid 3 stars as a group, especially given the dollar's weakness.

Finally, if you were there for Sunday DINNER, then having the place 2/3 full would be quite an accomplishment for any restaurant in France. The big meal on Sunday in France is LUNCH, a family affair, when French families deluge restaurants everywhere in the country, or make huge meals at home. Sunday dinner (for French people) is apt to be a bowl of soup and a salad, at home. This would also explain why the place would be proportionately full of tourists, since in my experience few French people eat out for a big Sunday dinner.

ken


Edited by Ken Fox (log)

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Ken.Thanks for your comments about Lameloise.You seem to have many years experience with them and are quite familiar with their operation.

I was looking forward to my dinner and I related my own personal experience ,whioh to be honnest is not acceptable in a 3 star restaurant.

For instance ,after describing exactley what I wanted to the young sommelier,he opened the red wine just before my meat dish,so,since it was poor,I rejected it. Then when i was almost fiished eating, The new wine came ,unfortuately ,very tannic and closed.The fact is the sommelier did not know his wines.

In terms of the food .IT was definetily heavy ,however it was very well prepared and tasty. Perhaps for some people its OK ,but for someone who eats all the time in FRance .IT WAS HEAVY.However its intersting ,because it shows how people use to eat and how tastes have changed.

AS you see perfection does not exist.You're lucky that you enjoy yourself each time you go there .Since they know you ,perhaps you get that special treatment and that makes a differnce.Any how keep on enjoying yourself.

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Ken.Thanks for your comments about Lameloise.You seem to have many years experience with them and are quite familiar with their operation.

I was looking forward to my dinner and I related my own personal experience ,whioh to be honnest is not acceptable in a 3 star restaurant.

For instance ,after describing exactley what I wanted to the young sommelier,he opened the red wine just before my meat dish,so,since it was poor,I rejected it. Then when i was almost fiished eating, The new wine came ,unfortuately ,very tannic and closed.The fact is the sommelier did not know his wines.

In terms of the food .IT was definetily heavy ,however it was very well prepared and tasty. Perhaps for some people its OK ,but for someone who eats all the time in FRance .IT WAS HEAVY.However its intersting ,because it shows how people use to eat and how tastes have changed.

AS you see perfection does not exist.You're lucky that you enjoy yourself each time you go there .Since they know you ,perhaps you get that special treatment and that makes a differnce.Any how keep on enjoying yourself.

First, as regards the "young sommelier," the person to whom you refer has been there about 2 weeks at this point and other than opening my wine and pouring some of it (and conversing with him, a little) I don't know him nor his taste. Jean-Pierre, who was there for around 4 decades, retired recently and they have now added a 3rd, who is new. I don't know if he is from the region or a recent graduate of "sommelier school" in another region. Normally, the 3rd sommelier does not take wine orders, so I'm not exactly sure what transpired. They use the 3rd person to open and to serve wines, but not to take orders, normally. Perhaps one of the other sommeliers called in sick.

I do have to disagree with your approach, however. Unless I know a particular sommelier, ANYWHERE, I never put 100% faith in their recommendations. I do know the other two (longtime) sommeliers at Lameloise, so I will accept their recommendations without reservation, but someone I do not know, and I don't care where they work, nor the level of the restaurant, just cannot be trusted to "know my taste" to the point where I'll accept their recommendations without some consideration on my part. That is plain and simple fact; tastes differ, and no one else knows my taste as well as I do.

As a result, I never go to a region anywhere, not in France, not anywhere, without at least a very basic understanding of the wines from the region, the best recent vintages, and who are the best producers. If all else fails, I have a bit of knowledge between my ears and I am never completely dependent on a sommelier to have him or her pick for me what I will drink. I go in with enough knowledge to be able to pick at least a decent choice.

If I depend on a sommelier, or even if I pick the wine myself, I NEVER reject a wine because it fails to be what I thought it would be. I ONLY reject a wine because it is BAD, e.g. has flaws, such as being oxidized, corked, or whatever. If I made a bad choice, or if I relied on a sommelier to tell me what to order and he picked something that just didn't happen to meet my own personal taste (but was nonetheless good), then I just drink it. I don't think it is fair to a restaurant to leave them with an opened bottle of perfectly good wine that just didn't happen to be to my taste.

I think you discount the problems in communication that come with dealing with a person who speaks a foreign language and who tries to accommodate you, in YOUR language. The opportunities to misunderstand what someone is saying due to cultural or other reasons are just too great. And, honestly, I don't care if it is a 1 star, a 3 star, or a no-stars restaurant; language barriers are REAL. I speak French, but I still have language-based problems in communication nearly each day I am in France. I think you expected too much, and as a result you (presumably) sent back a perfectly good bottle of wine that got wasted and that cost the restaurant a fair amount. You were dissatisfied with your second bottle. Perhaps if you had put a bit more effort in, yourself, before you went, to study the wines of the region, perhaps then you would have been able to get something to go with your dinner that would have suited you more.

Sorry to be so harsh, but that is how I feel.

ken


Edited by Ken Fox (log)

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I think you discount the problems in communication that come with dealing with a person who speaks a foreign language and who tries to accommodate you, in YOUR language.

Ken, isn't Pierre French?

After a long discussion about the wines with the sommelier concerning the wines I was seeking, I was disappointed with the recommendation and had to send it back, the replacement was not great either

Isn't there a world of difference between simply asking for, and accepting a recommendation and the above. If I had had a lengthy conversation and requested a wine of a particular style I feel I would be justified in returning it if it failed to live up to the sommeliers description i.e. if I wanted a good composty Pinot and get a very light fruit driven one.

I ate at Lameloise a few years ago (in it's two star period) and wasn't that enamored with it. The food was OK, but the overly formal service got in the way for us. I can see the attraction, but as they say, horses for courses.....


Edited by PhilD (log)

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Ken, isn't Pierre French?

After a long discussion about the wines with the sommelier concerning the wines I was seeking, I was disappointed with the recommendation and had to send it back, the replacement was not great either

Isn't there a world of difference between simply asking for, and accepting a recommendation and the above. If I had had a lengthy conversation and requested a wine of a particular style I feel I would be justified in returning it if it failed to live up to the sommeliers description i.e. if I wanted a good composty Pinot and get a very light fruit driven one.

I ate at Lameloise a few years ago (in it's two star period) and wasn't that enamored with it. The food was OK, but the overly formal service got in the way for us. I can see the attraction, but as they say, horses for courses.....

I noticed the name but just having a French name does not necessarily make one French. If Pierre is French, then of course the communication problems should be discounted. I'll leave the comment as I wrote it as it does reflect my opinion about communication problems which occur when people travel, and I think it does explain a lot of the difficulties that people have.

I thought all 3 star places have "formal service" and that this was a requirement in order to get that standing. I've never considered the service there to be "haughty," and I have experienced that in other places (and I hate it) but formal service in my view comes with the territory in a 3 star place.

I'm very much on the fence about your comments on wines. I have sent bottles back but they have been clearly defective bottles. The last time I did so at a fine restaurant (it was not Lameloise) was a few years ago, and rather than saying "this bottle stinks, take it back," (or somesuch) I told the sommelier that I thought there might be something wrong with it and requested that he taste it. After tasting it, the sommelier's face turned red, he apologized profusely, and got another bottle. The next bottle had exactly the same flaws as the first one. After that bottle was opened the sommelier said he thought they had gotten a bad case and they were going to send it back, and he steered me on to a different wine.

Perhaps I'm just not as particular as you are when it comes to wine. I do have a very large cellar and I do appreciate many different styles of wine. I have dined with people who say things like, "that dish needs a "Griotte" or somesuch, which I generally regard as being silly.

But no, I do not send perfectly good bottles back that just don't happen to be to my taste. The only exception is when a sommelier pushes me really hard to take something that I would otherwise not order under any circumstances (such as a 2003 red Burgundy), as has happened a few times. Generally in that situation the sommelier has said something like, "if you don't like, tell me, and I'll open something else for you." This exact scenario has happened and generally I've liked the wine and did not send it back. In an otherwise normal interaction with a sommelier where several wines are being discussed and one is chosen -- I just take responsibility for that myself unless the wine is flawed.

ken

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Many thanks for the excellent write-ups of the two restaurants in Tournus - they brought back some great memories for me.

I had the good fortune to dine at Greuze in the early-mid 1990s when Jean Ducloux was still at the helm - it was a really memorable experience needless to say. He was a very imposing, even formidable presence but was very warm and generous as he thanked us at the end of our meal. I vividly remember having two of his "signature dishes" (for want of a better term): Pate en Croute "Alexandre Dumaine" and Quenelles de Brochet, sauce Nantua. It was quintessentially classic cooking, with large portions and extremely simple, unfussy presentation (probably unacceptable in today's high-end restaurants) but the quality of ingredients were exquisite and the technique faultless. I'm really glad to hear the restaurant has been rescued from ruin, and I see the chef has retained a few Greuze classics on the menu, but it's sad that Ducloux's style of cooking seems to be really a thing of the past now... the gastronomic world is poorer for it and I'm just glad I had a chance to experience it when I still could.

I also visited Aux Terrasses around the same time, when it was "just" a bib gourmand. It was a wonderful restaurant even then, which really punched above its weight, so I'm pleased to hear they're still going strong.

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I noticed the name but just having a French name does not necessarily make one French.

Based on postings not simply the name - I of course could be wrong.

I thought all 3 star places have "formal service" and that this was a requirement in order to get that standing. I've never considered the service there to be "haughty," and I have experienced that in other places (and I hate it) but formal service in my view comes with the territory in a 3 star place.

I don't agree. My experience of 3 stars is that they have excellent service, in some places formal, others less so (but always correct). We found the service at Lameloise to be formal but also stiff and not very friendly. It was quite odd and obviously could have been an exception (or they simply didn't like us).

I think you are missing my point on the wine. I too only send bottles back if they are faulty, and I agree one should never send a wine back because you don't like it, or it doesn't meet your expectations. However, there is a grey area: if a sommelier recommends a wine and it isn't true to their recommendation/description, then isn't there a good reason to send it back? I have never done this myself, and like you have enjoyed some great recommendations under the "return it if you don't like it" caveat. However a sommelier is a professional and if they get it wrong then why should the customer pay the price?

Re your experience with repeated flawed bottles. I have had this twice, once in a restaurant once at home. As far as we could deduce the faulty wine came from one side of a case and we suspect it had probably been left outside and that side had been "cooked" in the sun. Obviously TCA can get into a batch of wine (via contamination during production not through the cork) but you would expect the wine maker to catch that before release.

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I'm in the area near Antibes, France, right now and spending time with a French friend who is a graduate of a French Hotel/Restaurant management school, and who has managed a couple of restaurants near where I live in Idaho. I discussed with him the etiquette of refusing a bottle of wine in a restaurant today, and he does not necessarily agree with what I have posted. I thought I would share his opinion.

He said that if he were running a restaurant and a client relied upon a sommelier's recommendation, that he would allow the customer to refuse the bottle even if it was not defective. He said this doesn't actually happen all that often in a real restaurant and it is an expense that a restaurant can afford to take to keep customers satisfied. He also said that usually the restaurant can then take the opened bottle and sell the wine in it by the glass. He said that when he was managing his last restaurant (in Idaho) this past winter, that he would generally be able to sell the whole bottle by the glass during the same meal as it had been refused by the original customer.

I'm a little sensitive on this subject because I have seen diners abuse this privilege. I remember clearly one experience I had when I was invited out by the director of a company in Germany about 7 or 8 years ago. Our table had several other people at it, numbering perhaps 5 or 6 in total. The host had no clue whatsoever about wine and he ordered a bottle that clearly was perfectly fine but then refused it after realizing that he didn't like that particular type of wine; it was an expensive white Burgundy. I think he was trying to impress us, his guests. I can see where as a restaurateur this sort of behavior could get old very quickly.

ken

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Ken.You have made many assumptions and passed broad judgements.You assumed I was an inexperienced person, probably American.When discussing a restaurant I like to stick to the issues.Any how just for the record ,french is my native language and i discussed with the sommellier what I wanted ,using wine lingo .I am familar with quite a few of the wines on the list and I wanted to see whether Lameloise had any new insights about an up and coming new wine maker.Incidentally the wine was defective and he made me taste it just before food was beeing served

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Ken.You have made many assumptions and passed broad judgements.You assumed I was an inexperienced person, probably American.When discussing a restaurant I like to stick to the issues.Any how just for the record ,french is my native language and i discussed with the sommellier what I wanted ,using wine lingo .I am familar with quite a few of the wines on the list and I wanted to see whether Lameloise had any new insights about an up and coming new wine maker.Incidentally the wine was defective and he made me taste it just before food was beeing served

The assumptions I made were based on such things as (obvious) written English fluency which is not something one sees all that often from native French speakers (although it obviously does exist).

It is not my goal to excuse poor service and if this is what you received than I am sorry both for you and for the establishment. This is not something I have seen there with any frequency, and given your proficiency in the language I would ask you why you did not bring it to the attention of either a Maitre d'Hotel or Mr. Lamy, the proprietor. I assure you that had you done so that the situation would have been resolved 100% to your satisfaction. I know the 3 Maitre d'Hotels and Mr. Lamy well enough to know that the very last thing they would have wanted to see is for someone like yourself to have left the restaurant as dissatisfied as you obviously were.

I am intimately familiar with the fact that Lameloise has a very large and loyal clientele of repeat customers. I was around at the time that they temporarily lost their 3rd star, which most of their regular customers regarded as being unwarranted. I ate there approximately 25 times during this two year period. I saw how these regular customers responded during this period and these responses included many hundreds of letters sent to Michelin (Jacques Lameloise had 2 scrap books full of them, since the customers often sent him a copy of the letters they sent to Guide Michelin). I was also in the dining room several times when a table full of diners would spontaneously have someone get up and engage the entire salle in which they were located in a discourse directed at the red guide for what was perceived to be a real absence of fairness on their part. The entire dining room would then erupt in applause.

I don't think you develop a regular repeat clientèle like this for no reason. You develop it because you do a good job both in the kitchen and in the dining room. I am sorry that you had a bad experience and I have no doubt that out of the many hundreds who eat in any fine restaurant each week, that a few leave dissatisfied. I am certain however that your experience was not typical and that if you had made an effort to communicate your dissatisfaction to someone above the level of that sommelier, that whatever could have been done to satisfy you would have been done, and that you would have left the restaurant felling better than you obviously did.

I have had isolated bad experiences at a number of reputed gastronomic restaurants in France. I had one in particular 6 months ago that I have thought about documenting online but that I have resisted doing so, so far, because I just cannot be sure that my experience was representative and I don't care to sully the reputation of a business without being more certain that what I experienced was typical. That is just my view and I am not saying that it is the correct one.

ken

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I always wondered why Loiseau was not discussed in forums, not now, not before. I had a very excellent meal in Saulieu last friday, though I have many issues with it. Let's start with some of them. First the lunch menu was unacceptably subpar (someone at my table had it), especially a boar civet that was dry and tasteless. More generally, I feel the place, unlike its two main competitors (Meneau and Lameloise) has lost its soul. It is obvious from the ridiculous modern design coexisting with the fundamentally rural house. It is also obvious in the lack of commitment to food in the waiting staff. The feeling is really one of an international place where people don't linger and spend a lot, and too many dishes felt like "stupid fine dining -- why spend so much money on food?". Also, the billing was petty and mean.

That said, the technical level is very high and what I got was excellent. Also, hanging out in that wonderful house a good part of the afternoon, smoking exceptional cigars, are very attractive aspects of the experience.

The soup amuse was, as was always the case in Saulieu, truly wonderful, always leaving you incredulous that this is just vegetable. This one was white bean.

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My starter of scallops and parsley root in a jus mariniere au beurre noisette was also pretty awesome. The scallops were not big but they were tasty and perfectly cooked. There was also one abalone and one oyster, and a razor clam with endive and nettle on the side, not sure what they brought.

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The veal kidney was also wonderful -- it was from a real young mikfed veal, therefore tiny, and roasted in his fat after having been marinated in a special Fallot mustard just developed with chef Bertron, flavoured with apple and macis (nutmeg's powdered skin). Our slightly stupid captain thought I was joking when I asked him to be brought all of the fat after they presented the roasted kidney table side, so I had to ask again when they brought the kidney platted. They brought me another plate of fat, chopped and reheated with the dried mustard seeds that brought a nice crunch. They had saved it just before the trash, or so they said. It was heavenly. Here you can see the meat:

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Here you can see the stuffed potato on the side and the toast of fat that comes even if you don't ask:

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The meal ended with their as wonderful as ever Saint Honoré, made on order, which is impossibly light and sugarless and is all about texture, freshness and vanilla. The sauce must have something like 40 beans in it and is almost liquid (the same stupid captain did not realise he should stir it before serving so we get the seeds...). The bottom is biscuit. The whipped cream is lighter than air, and the choux had that sweetness that comes from freshness, not sugar. The one default of that dessert for two is that they charged it three times because we shared it. As I said before, petty.

In comparison, at least if you go ALC, there is no doubt in my mind that the cuisine at Loiseau's is superior at the one at Lameloise's. Yet I will go for Lameloise next time I have a choice, as the house is, in my experience, considerably friendlier and more human, not to mention much more generous.

That said, there is another reason for food lovers to go to Saulieu, and it is the cheese shop La Fouchale, one of my favourites anywhere. I don't know of a better crème crue (raw cream) anywhere. They also had a fromage fort that demonstrated the validity of the very concept of fromage fort. Yum anyway.

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Edited by julot-les-pinceaux (log)

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I really enjoy visiting this shop, the selection of local cheeses and creams is outstanding, the service knowledgeable and very friendly. There is plenty of unpasturised cheese to be had along with excellent examples of local goats cheese. The shop is always busy especially on market day (Saturday,)locals will spend 50 – 80 Euros a time on cheese eggs and crème fraiche.

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I think Lameloise treats known customers and house guests much better than 1st timers, for instance:

-WE waited about 12 minutes before our order was taken,while they were fussing around others that were seated after us.

-The white wine was opened 20 minutes after beeing seated,even though I indicated that we drink white wine ,rather than an apperitif.

-The red wine was tasted just before the meat dish

-I indicated to the waiter,when the meat plate came that I was waiting for the 2d bottle of wine ,since the 1st one was defective

-The 2d wine was highly tannic and closed.I said so .At this stage I wanted to start my meal ,as it was half cold.

-My actions were visible and audible to the servers and even to next door diners and I am sure mgt was aware of it or should have been.Therefore in a 3 star restautant one does not make a big fuss of complaining .The maitre D's role is to observe and take action.

at the end of the meal mgt came with the usual thank and PR.No questions about how the meal was.It was pointless to complain at that stage.

I did not want a digestif on the house

-ITs amazing that with an army of servers the above happened.Its indicative that sometehing is wrong.Probably the new management.

Incidentally the above experience cost 295 euros for two or $450.

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The white wine was opened 20 minutes after beeing seated,even though I indicated that we drink white wine ,rather than an apperitif.

Exactly the same happened with us, it felt like the "system" couldn't cope with deviants who wanted a white wine rather than the aperitif. I also had the same suspicion that it was a restaurant for regulars and house guests rather than "tourists" (like us) as it did appear that other tables received more attention.

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ITs truly amazing that my experience and PhilD's are so different from Ptipois and Julian's..I respect their opinion.I expected the same response as they had and as i have received in the past in previous 3 stars.Therefore the only explanation is the recent new management.

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I don't know -- one thing is that we made contact with the staff and the kitchen. I'm not sure it's only about professionalism and management. Sometimes you have a connection with people, whether you're a client or something else to them. I felt like we established a special connection with both the waiting and cooking staff -- we shared common interest. All top restaurants are a mix of business and passion. At Loiseau last week, even though I've been a regular for over fifteen years, it was absolutely business. At Lameloise, it felt like passion first, and this made the experience precious. But as we all know, passion is capricious.

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