A warm and generous embrace welcomed us at Ma Cuisine from Pierre and Fabienne Escoffier. We have been dining here regularly for the best part of a dozen years and with the friendly atmosphere and homely cooking it’s just like eating with friends at home (it’s not really, its like eating at a restaurant that you feel comfortable in).
We were the first to arrive and with Fabienne spending more time on the floor the wine service has quickened in pace just a little (sorry Pierre). Fabienne still spends the morning preparing in the kitchen and buys the produce but has a long term employee now behind the stoves during service.
Last year a bottle of 2008 Coche-Dury Meursault we had off the list breathed up to show the faintest touch of cork taint, so in the name of science we ordered one. It was clean and fresh but quite shy and unyielding on the nose. In the mouth there were powerful, luscious orchard fruits cut by piercing minerally acidity. It was dense and full with a chalk laden finish. It worked brilliantly with Heidi’s scallops, just barely cooked through, plump and sweet with exquisite flavour. Cousin Lucy had the snails in garlic, parsley and butter and her breath will stink for several weeks of our trip but deemed them absolutely wonderful. My tartare of tuna was as good as ever, with the meaty fish being lightened up by fine herbs and a lively dressing. The accompanying salad leaves were perfectly dressed. The children asked mummy if they could have traditionally Burgundian fare based on ham and parsley, to which mummy responded by ordering the fabulous Jambon Persillé.
For main course Heidi opted for Boeuf Bourguignon, simple food done simply brilliantly. The beef was flavoursome, accompanying vegetables fresh and sweet and reduction powerful and beautifully balanced. It was a triumphant match to our 2006 Comte Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges ‘Les Cras’. This is seriously polished Nuits with great elegance and perfume. There are notes of black cherry, cedar and spice. In the mouth it was generous yet silky, with fleshy fruits overlaying a canvas of minerals and earth. It had good grip to the finish but tannins are sugar coated. It was also the bomb with Cousin Lucy’s pigeon. The pigeon at Ma Cuisine is generally nothing short of brilliant. I had Côte de porc that was moist, tender and juicy, with delicious mushrooms and a rich reduction that was just getting a little vegemite character to it. The accompanying mashed potato was spread artistically across the plate and it looked like it had a skid mark from a Tonka truck running through it.
The last thing we needed now was dessert, so we waddled up to the table housing all of the wonderful offerings and pointed shamefully at our desired selection. My crème brulee was perfect, classic in every sense. I know why Amélie had such a penchant for tapping the top of the brulee, it is such a satisfying feeling, kind of the same as popping bubble wrap or squeezing a pimple. Heidi’s tarte tatin once again proved that Fabienne is the master of this wonderful tart and Patrick and Lily’s citron and chocolate tarts respectively were ‘Hoover’d’ up before we could taste them. Lucy was most pleased with a tart of rhubarb and ate at an elegant enough pace so as I could pilfer a small piece, delicious!
I have not noticed them before but the toilets now seem to have some photos of famous people who have dined at Ma Cuisine including Bono and some of his friends. Perhaps he could be known as ‘Beaune O’ when playing along the Côte d’Or?
As warm as the welcome had been, the au revoir was even warmer. I think Monsieur and Madame Escoffier were watching as the kids had become a little ratty towards the end of our meal and were quite keen to see the back of them. This continues to be our favourite restaurant of the region for its generous flavours, excellent cooking, pleasant service and superb wine list.