I had the pleasure of having lunch at Cordeillan-Bages in Pauillac in early October.
We were staying in the Dordogne and drove there on a day trip with a group of 10 friends and reservations for a tour at Ch. Lynch-Bages winery. Unfortunately, the GPS in the lead car took us the wrong way and we all got lost and separated so we arrived too late for the tour.
Instead, we had lunch (with no reservations) at Cordeillan-Bages.
This is from my journal:
The dining room is light, airy, and very gracious, with french windows overlooking the vineyard. The service is absolutely impeccable and everyone, from the servers to the bussers to the Sommilier speaks perfect English and can answer questions in detail about anything on the menu. The only awkwardness in the service was a Sommelier who seemed at a loss on how to recommend a "reasonably" priced bottle of wine.
And the menu! Whew! It's presented in a small blue square card stock cover which opens to a black and white photo of a slice of onion. Then, it opens further and there's the menu on creamy white paper, in French only with appetizers ranging in price from 40 to 48 euro, main courses 45-60 euro and desserts at 25 euro. Somehow, that makes the 3 course menu (any two courses plus dessert for 90 euro) seem like a relative bargain. We all opt for the menu since that's what the other guys are doing as well. Because the menu is only in French, we are taken through each offering by the server with a full description in English. The meal ends up being much more than the 3 courses we each order; there are multiple amuses, plus 2 extra desserts, plus petit fours. By the end (heck, by my main course) I am stuffed to the point where I cannot even contemplate a "wafer thin mint". I really tried to pace myself, but it's so hard not to try everything.
I did not take notes, but I did take photos of almost every course and plate. I also have a copy of the menu which I have scanned.
The Michelin guide describes the cuisine as "inventive" and it was! The table ware, most of it in blown glass bowls was fantastic too.
Here's what we had:
Amuse #1: Yam puree with steamed seabass, foie gras mousse with balsamic,
cold cauliflower soup. I generally do not like cauliflower, but I think this could make me change my mind. It was just so "fresh" with a hint of sweetness.
Amuse #2: smoked eel with apple gelee served on a spoon.
My first course; goat cheese souffle-"Souffle chaud sans cuisson Sainte-Maure et navet"
Mom's first course: Foie gras and dark chocolate and passion fruit. "Foie gras <<Choc>> Passion" This was amost more of a dessert with layers of chocolate ganache and foie gras. Completely decadent.
Amuse #3: Abalone with truffle foam
My main course; "spaghetti"-Looked like a baseball wrapped in string. The noodle was wrapped around a chicken breast and inside that were veal sweetbreads. On top was a slice of black truffle, and on the bottom, cepe mushrooms."Le Spaghetti au ris de veau, cepes et truffes" Incredible, rich and very filling.
Mom's main course; Duck with lemon verbena, with a turnip ravioli. "Homard, vapeur de verveine citronnelle, pulpe de navet et citron confit." Beautiful plate presentation with a smear of green sauce which looked like a banana leaf.
Friend's main course; smoked beef with potatoes. This was a facinating presentation-the beef was smoked on a plate wrapped in plastic only for the time it took to bring it from the kitchen to the table. The plate was then unwrapped tableside which let the fragrence and smoke out into the dining room. All heads turned when this was presented. "Filet de boeuf fume aux sarments, pommes de terre confites au jus a quintessence."
Other Friend's main course; Quail in a cone shape, with coriander. "Caille conique, saveur tajine". Looked like a little christmas tree.
Petit fours and the first dessert amuse: I don't remember much by this point. There was a little bowl had some sort of lime mousse or sorbet, and a little ball on a stick which had ice cream inside.
There was another "dessert" amuse, but this one was oddly savory and had basil and tomato in it.
My dessert; deconstructed citrus tart. "Tarte au citron destructuree"
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate
and a crunchy something with Campari, pineapple and eucalyptus. "Craquant givre Campari, Ananas a l'eucalyptus "
Mom's dessert; pear with white chocolate. "Poire belle Helene inversee"
After these desserts, they trotted out one more dessert; a full cart laden with all sorts of chocolates, tortes and macarons. I could not partake, but it certainly looked incredible.
For full copies of the menu and photos, course by course, go to my website: