A week spent hoping around vineyard villages and Christmas Markets…
Having driven ourselves here directly from landing in CDG so we could see the Centre Pompidou we were a bit groggy from no sleep but this agreeable spot was near our hotel just opposite the Cathedral and provided us a hearty and restorative immersion into the regional cusine. Started with an œuf coccotte with lardons and Beaufort and then Joue de Porc in a light mustard sauce avec buttery, cheesy spaetzle. €67.60 (€24 for a bottle of Viognier)
On hour 32 with no sleep, and now well lubricated from the vin chaud and vin frais we snagged at the nearby Marche de Noel, and unable to decide which (among the few, it being a Sunday) spots would be best we opt for the Moroccan spot attached to our hotel and it turns out a good call. We start with Brik, then I have Cous Cous Royale and Bman has Tagine d’agneau pruneaux. We drink a bottle of Chergui Vin Gris du Maroc and I think were out of there under 60€.
In the pedestrianized center-city. Chose it because it seemed full with a diverse crowd and at least a few locals. Started with a Tarte a l’Oignon and a small salade and Bäkeofe and Bman had the Slade Verte and Tarte Flambé. He went for the Tarte Cerise an me the Munster. Mostly jolly service, lots of families, very reasonable.
Brasserie du Théâtre
Came here following a recommendation in Le Fooding. Lovely antique filled theatrical ambiance but the warmth stopped there. Even though we reserved, greeted and conversed in French were handed the English Menus. This would be fine if the translation weren’t 90% of the time so ghastly one really can’t understand what is being offered. Walked back over to the Maître d’ stand and requested the French menus. Ordered. Pretty frosty reception the rest of the evening. Nothing to write home about. Shared a Cocotte de Mer for two with rice, and I started with a Soup de Potiron. 93€, 39€ for a bottle of nice Chablis.
This was one of the places that seemed to pop up on a few lists and not as fussy as his starred La Table du Gourmet. Started with an assiette (really a plateau) of aperitifs… saucisson sec, olives, giardinara, hand-made bread sticks, tapenade and inexplicably – papadum ! We had the copious Cote de Bœuf for two which came with frites and salad and we were too full for dessert. We drank a bottle of Coillot Bourgogne Pinto Noir and I think we’re under the 90€ mark.
Went here based on a recommendation of the owner of our flat. Ambience was charming enough but everything else, service, food, were truly awful. Pass.
Le Sarment D’Or
Hesitant to follow the advice of our proprietaire again, and yet loving the idea of a walkable spot in this little walled village we dug a little deeper into other source material and found that this spot fared well in a number of different restaurant review sites. Also a hotel, the place had a comfortable, family-run ambiance (a youngster seated us, quite professionally) but was a lovely bright room with a fireplace that we were seated next to. Started with Foie Gras, Bman had soupe Potiron, then I had the Bœuf Strasbourg and Bman the Filet de Lievre. The staff were lovely, charming and attentive. I made a point of making clear I wanted my steak saignant Francaise (not Americaine… sometimes we find we say saignant and they still bring it à point, or horreurs, bien cuit and we’re not sure if that’s a misstep on the part of the kitchen or them thinking we really don’t know what we want….) Had been trying to do our best to come away from this week in Alsace with a better sense of the wines if not necessarily a deeper affection and had not yet tried any of the red. Ordered a Pinot Noir de Hugel and was offered it “tempere” or “frais,” which was the first time we had been given that option. We went with frais and were quite happy with this chilled, fruity complement to the meal. €117.50 (€32 wine)
So hard to know what to do when 70% of the 40 restaurants have the exact same menu and when the only reviews available seem to be Trip Advisor or Google which are of modest use unless someone has really gone into details so you can get context, background, insight… so sometimes we fly by the seat and go with our gut. They greeted us warmly here and it seemed to have a nice mix of local delivery men having their morning beer at the bar and folks beginning to come in for their lunch. Had a delicious soupe au legumes that actually tasted of legumes and was nicely seasoned and then had the Coq au Riesling, and Bman had the Gratin pomme de terre au munster et saucisse grillee. Add in a carafe of Pinto Gris and we were sated, happy and had spent under 40€.
Liked the description and look of this place and that it was run by a mother-daughter team. Started with a Salade Paysanne which had greens, beets and a few slices of something like a Cervelas with Pistachios (though I saw it in a number of boucheries here and failed to note its name…) then I had a completely oncteuse and satisfying Jambonneau Choucroute and Bman had Tarte Volaille followed by Kougelhof Glace laced with rum and I had, natch, the Munster. A bottle of Pinot Gris Sipp, and I don’t have the receipt but I think the whole affair was under 75€.
Les Foies Gras de Liesel
Has an outpost in Colmar but this is home base. Wandered in here because we were killing time before lunch and the window was jolly, with several framed articles of Madame and her Foie and the shop beyond seemed to be guarded by a sweet-looking Westie we could not resist (used to have one of its cousins, a Cairn Terrier…). Bought one of her small porcelain jars filled with Foie de Canard decorated with the classic Alsatian L’Oncle Hansi illustrations and went about our way… a full hour later, was shopping in a small, crowded (there were 4 of us in there !!) antique shop on the Grand Rue when a woman tapped on the glass door, pointed at me and gestured for me to come out on the street. I was certain she was trying to get the attention of someone else in the shop and turned back to the pile of antique Kelsch I was surveying. Again she tapped, and I ignored. Finally, she opened the door, and said “Monsieur, puis je parler avec vous !!” Finally, I realized it was Madame Willmann from the Foie shop. She had been looking for me for the last hour. Distractedly (understandable, as the holidays were hastening upon us, and one must have their Foie…) she had overcharged me. By a lot. And feeling badly, had been hunting for me since. And there on the street after I hailed her kindness and honesty, she repaid me from her purse, praised my French, and we had a heartwarming conversation about our annual visits and deep love for France and the excitement and bustle of the holidays. We were clasping hands by the end, grinning at each other and chuckling. I hope before long I’ll have a chance to shop in her boutique again and laugh about our last encounter.
Le Petit Pécheur
Ventured here on a cheese pilgrimage on a rainy, mid-week, winter day and found a very quiet town. COULD have been because we pulled in after noon and everyone else had shut up tight for lunch. Picked this place based on an appealing menu and the ratio of “Fait maison” dishes. Having spied the chalkboard before we entered, and then seeing two gents in some kind of (delivery-person ?) uniform having same, and it looking good decided to jump in. For a mere 10,50€ started with Soup Potiron, and then had Rotie de Porc sauce champignons, Pomme de terre and Chou Rouge which nicely had some chestnuts tucked in, which I would have never thought of, but provided a very pleasing, rich balance to the acidity of the yummy chou. Bman had an entrecote frites, not in the least bit saignant as he had requested it (see note above) but decent nonetheless. Very satisfying and very affordable. 50.40€ (a bottle of Pinot Blanc, 14.20€).
Was delighted to recall, in the midst of our Alsatian planning, that the divine Christine Ferber called home somewhere nearby and indeed it was quite close to our Riqewihr perch. Delightful little bakery, epicerie and maison de Poterie, all with her own, signature (literally) stamp. Snagged some of all of the above. Long may she reign.
Maison des Tanneurs
Had tried to get here in 2006 when we last visited but were here on their night off (a Sunday or Monday, likely…) so happy on this occasion to finally try it. Delightful, lovely dining room up on the second floor overlooking the L’Ill. Dark paneling, red and green and gold decorations for the season and a healthy dose of traditional Alsatian Kelsch here and there… several jolly, large, office gatherings, and very good service throughout. Started with (it being so cold) the Soupe a l’Oignon and Bman had Terrine de Canard (with a bit of Cèleri Rémoulade and champignons marinée) and he had the filet de bœuf and the Choucroute des Tanneurs for me with more meat and chou than even I could finish, but delicious. 113,60€ (A bottle of Pinot Gris Dopff, 29,50€).
Paris notes up next…