Restaurants & Bars

DIJON - notes

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Restaurants & Bars 3

DIJON - notes

Bill Strzempek | Dec 3, 2005 04:33 PM

I was quickly and fully won over by quaint Dijon during my two and a half days there recently. Dijon has two Micheline starred world class restaurants. The first, Stephane Derbord, is reviewed in another thread. The other, Le Pre aux Clercs -- Jean Pierre Billoux, was closed the one night I had free, but its reputation is well known and earned, so let me give you the address.

LE PRE AUX CLERCS - JEAN PIERRE BILLOUX
13, place de la Libération
21000 DIJON
Tel: 03 80 38 05 05

Dijon has a great historic covered market, lots of inviting bistrots, superb architecture, eye popping roof decoration, quiet streets, and several fine art and cultural museums (but be forewarned the impressive Musee des Beaux Arts is closed on Tuesday). Dijon is a great destination that is a very quick 90 minutes by superspeed train from Paris, and if you buy your tix via SCNF (look for the link to their "PREMS"), you can go roundtrip for as low as 40 Euros.

The bustling Les Halles covered market is not to be missed and is open
- Monday : 7h30 à 12h30
- Tuesday: 6h30 à 13H30
- Wednesday : 7h30 à 12h30
- Thursday : 7h30 à 12h30
- Friday : 6h30 à 13h30
- Saturday : 6h30 à 16h30
I had some nice oysters here for an impromptu pick me up, but mark those hours, they close up shop right on time. Merchants selling everything from flipflops to butter lettuce to books set up in the streets around the market three days a week. North of the market hall are a couple of interesting mustard and wine shops (in addition to Maille mustard shop on the main drag in town). They all will ship mustard back home for you to save luggage heft.

Like Les Halles, the bistrots around town are strict about their open and closing hours, so plan accordingly. It seems to be nigh on impossible to eat lunch in Dijon after 2pm. There is a march of the hungry uninformed tourists going from door to door around the market area bistrots in search of lunch every day, assuming that surely there must be someplace good to eat in the middle of the day. No.

It is only slightly easier to eat dinner in Dijon before 7pm. If you are pressed to be at the theatre at 8:30pm and want to eat a great dinner beforehand, you will have a problem. Yes, you will find lots of gentlemen eating at 6pm in the bistros, but you will soon learn upon entering these places, as I did, that they are the staff.

There is a major venue, Brasserie La Concorde, that serves after 5pm. They are also known around town as "the late night place" but in reality they stop serving around 10:45pm. After that its room service or the kebab guy at Place Darcy.

BRASSERIE LA CONCORDE
2, place Darcy
21000 DIJON
Tel: 03 80 30 69 43

I had an early quick dinner here. The restaurant is more inviting if you sit facing away from the front windows on the street of busses. Then you can see the large glass-globed chandelier in the center of the room, the brass railings, and watch the waiters from central casting with the white aprons and moustaches go about their duties with a no nonsense attitude. At 6pm the clientele ranged from giggling school girls, to a family doting over their elderly relative who used a walker, a motorcycle rider with his helmet on the table, businessmen shooting the breeze, secretaries starting their girls night out.

The food was basic and not more than that. A dozen escargots were slathered in garlic and butter and were satisfying. A steak, frites, salad special was cooked bleu as ordered, but this was really eating on the run. With a picher of beaujolais, it was about 25 Euro. Nothing offensive here, but given better scheduling I'd eat at the bistrots below rather than return here. Brasserie La Concorde is clearly a meeting place for residents of Dijon, its perfectly okay.

When I pressed merchants and folks on the street to sugggest a place for dinner that I should not miss if I only had one day in Dijon, they listed these three places at the head of the list:

BISTROT DES HALLES
10, rue Bannelier
Tel: 03 80 49 94 15

LE BISTRO DE L’HUITRE
12, rue Bannelier
Tel: 03 80 30 00 30

AU BON PANTAGRUEL
20, rue Quentin Place du Marché
Tel: 03 80 30 68 69

I visited all three, they are all around Les Halles, they all look terrific for local traditional cuisine. Unfortunately none of them could feed me when I was available! Of the three, Bistrot des Halles comes with the greatest pedigree, as it is the bistro of the Michelin starred Chef Billoux, so reservations are suggested (although when I walked in on the eating staff they said "come back at seven and we'll seat you" but whether they were being cheeky or sincere I am still not sure). Bistro de l'Huitre is right next door, and Bon Pantagruel, which was a mob scene when I walked by at lunchtime, is a stone's throw away.

If others have had great experiences eating in Dijon, please post and clue me in. It is a town I will certainly visit again.

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