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Le Pont aux Chats


winemike
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"Le Pont aux Chats" has opened at the end of April this year and I had my lunch there this Sunday. And what a lunch !!! Simply one of the best I had in 2004 if not the best !

The setting : situated 42, rue de la Krutenau ... in the Krutenau quarter of Strasbourg, it's been taken over by Valere and Veronique Diochet last April. Valere has been the sous-chef of Antoine Westermann at Buerehiesel for 13 years and Veronique has been sommelier there for several years. And their 3 Michelin stars experience shows : stunning food and excellent wine service !

The setting (the real one) : it's a smallish place (30 seats) and it's a modest but nicely decorated room. There is a patio which must be fantastic in the summer.

The food ....

Started with "Filets de Petits Maquereaux de Ligne Simplement poeles, Vinaigrette aux Oignons Rouges, Veloute de Pommes de Terre a l'Huile d'Olive". Absolutely stunning ! The mackerel was clearly of the highest quality, the veloute was rich without being heavy and the vinaigrette made using the best olive oil... Simple but terribly efficient :smile:

Followed a dish that the chef used to prepare when he was a cook for Bernard Loiseau : "Cuisses de Grenouilles Poelees, Puree d'Ail Doux et Jus au Persil Plat". As good as the version I had at Bernard Loiseau's restaurant a few years back. The frog legs were the same quality as the ones served at Buerehiesel. I suspect they come from the same provider ... What can I add ?

Before the main course, we had "Coquilles Saint-Jacques Fraiches Poelees, Risotto au Citron". WOW ! The scallops come directly from Quiberon and it shows : they're the freshest you can get (in Strasbourg) and they were cooked to absolute perfection. The risotto was fantastic too, just a touch of lemon to leave the space for the marvellous scallops...

At this stage, I was clearly charmed and the rest of the meal did not disappoint : tha main course was a "Civet de Chevreuil d'Alsace Maison, Spatzle". This is very simply as good as the slightly more sophisticated version that was served at Buerehiesel last year. A very concentrated, gamy (of course) sauce and outstanding meat with the spatzle, reminding to everyone that we are in Alsace :wink: ...

Dessert was a "Creme Renversee au Caramel, Salade d'Orange au Poivre Queue". Very refreshing orange salad perfectly "seasoned" with the pepper. But another guest had an even better dessert : "Fruits d'Automne Marines a la Cannelle, Riz au Lait Vanille". Stunning. The fruits (fig, apple, quetsch) were amazing, with just what it takes of cinnamon and the "riz au lait vanille" simply divine. Again, the Chef serves a quite Alsatian dish which must not be missed .. especially because the season fruits alone are worth it !!

The wine service (and advice) was brilliant, we had a Tokay Pinot Gris 2001 from Maurice Schoech and it paired beautifully with the fish/frog legs. Nice acidity, fruity (but dry or with very very low residual sugar) and incredible length, this wine is a winner. We also had a half bottle of Riesling Kaefferkopf 2001 from M. Schoech and this wine, I thought, was even better. Finally a Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Du Loup 2001 which paired nicely with the Osso Bucco that other guests had but which I thought a little "light" for the deer .. though it is clearly a very good wine.

The wine list is very reasonably priced though, of course, is not extremely extensive as the restaurant just opened a few months back. But it has a great Alsace section and Veronique knows her wine so you're in safe hands there.

So, what's the main reason to go then ??? The price !!! We clearly had Michelin starred food level and service and paid the third of what we'd have to pay in a starred restaurant. Just grand .. this place is a bit unknown at the moment but it won't be for long ...

It's been the best surprise I had for a long time. It's a simple and friendly place and the food is just amazing : clearly a dream place for me.

There's just one thing which I really regret : I live a few hundred kilometres away from this place !

Mike.

PS. I have left the dishes names in French as I do not know how to translate everything and to just report how the Chef describes them ...

"Je préfère le vin d'ici à l'au-delà"

Francis Blanche

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PS. I have left the dishes names in French as I do not know how to translate everything and to just report how the Chef describes them ...

I find that although I speak very little French, I am far more clueless about the dishes if I get an English carte, than if I see the names of the dishes in French. I also find that I am not alone in that regard. French is just a better language to describe food.

I would have more sympathy for your location if I didn't live some 5,000 kilometers further away than you do. :raz: The restaurant sounds quite lovely and appealing.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I would have more sympathy for your location if I didn't live some 5,000 kilometers further away than you do

That was my case too ... a few months back ... :biggrin:

Anyway, the restaurant is a winner, I could not believe that it was only half full only for Sunday lunch. But, apparently, it's been a hard time for all restaurants for the last month or so ?

"Je préfère le vin d'ici à l'au-delà"

Francis Blanche

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winemike - thanks for a helpful and well written review.

I was in Strasbourg some weeks ago and had a more straightforward Alsatian meal in Chez Jenny - the group I was with does not get to Strasbourg so often and wanted something authentically local.

The way you describe "Le Pont aux Chats" and its food ensures that this will be the destination next time - you've won them a customer.

On the French menu terms, I wish every up-market French restaurant which attempts to translate its menu would read what Bux says. Although I've lived and worked in a French speaking city for many years, I'm still identified as an anglophone when I open my mouth. My heart shrinks whenever a waiter comes with "the English menu for monsieur" as if this was a special favour. Even in Michelin rated places, this inevitably has some mildly amusing errors, but much worse, it's simply not informative as the natural language for what is being described is French. In some of the haughtier places it can be a struggle to get to original menu.

Anyway I digress too much, but thanks for this recommendation.

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On the French menu terms, I wish every up-market French restaurant which attempts to translate its menu would read what Bux says. Although I've lived and worked in a French speaking city for many years, I'm still identified as an anglophone when I open my mouth. My heart shrinks whenever a waiter comes with "the English menu for monsieur" as if this was a special favour.

I'm fairly fluent in restaurant French, much less so in conversational French or restaurant Spanish, but one night in a restaurant in Spain after we had ordered our appetizers and main courses fron the Spanish menu, the waitress chose to bring me the dessert menu in English. I looked it over and decided nothing sounded interesting and was about to order coffee when my wife told the waitress to bring me the Spanish menu. Now there were several things I wanted to try. The translations, designed to please those who wanted to feel most as if they were still at home, sounded banal. Interestingly enough, the meal overall didn't please me and that's no surprise when you learn the restaurant goes out of it's way to make itself agreeable to tourists who are not excited to tryt new tastes.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I will be in Strasbourg on Moday and Tuesday, November 29-30. Anyone know whether the Pont aux Chats is open on those nights? And what is the telephone number, so I can get a friend there to reserve?

Thanks for the tip, at any rate.

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The restaurant is open every day except Wednesday all day and Saturday lunch.

The phone number is 03 88 24 08 77.

I think it's open every day in december ...

It's probably worth giving them a call but Monday and Tuesday nights are usually slow anyway so you should not have any problem to get a table :smile:

"Je préfère le vin d'ici à l'au-delà"

Francis Blanche

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