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After foie gras every other meal in Alsace, I opted for something less rich and more easygoing when I was in Dijon and Beaune. I went to two little eateries labeled "bib gourmand" in the Michelin guide.
In Dijon, I ate at Cezanne, a bright dining room with a couple of colorful paintings of the namesake. It was casual and comfortable. I selected a fixed price menu and got:
Lamb tongue, boiled, shredded and molded into a little flat dome. It's the centerpiece of a salad and the greens that surround it are well integrated with the tongue a tangy (mustard-based?) dressing. The meaty flavor of the tongue is tamed by the verdant bitter edge and the dressing and on the texture front, the soft meat contrasted well with the crisp greens.
Next, a leg and breast of duck with and marmalade-like orange sauce. The duck is fairly tender and well cooked; not the best in the world, but competent and delicious. Chopped sauteed eggplant makes a rather indifferent bed for the slices duck breast; it didn't hurt, but it didn't do too much for the dish either.
Lastly an orange creme brulee - it's a bit moist with an orange marmalade center. The texture could be firmer, but it's acceptable.
On the whole, the lunch was competent and made a decent value. The food is good, but I suspect that the kitchen in almost on the verge of trying too hard, given that the execution on the dishes ranged from good to above average. Not super special, but quite worthwhile as I was in the neighborhood.
In Beaune, I ate at Ciboulette. The white interior is a bit stark but there are softening touches here and there: plants, little framed pictures. Overall, it came across as a well-run family business.
Another fixed priced menu. I was in the mood for escargot and subtituted that for the appetizer - afterall it's Burgundy and where else better for escargot? Eating those crunchy succulent snails from a little pot coated with butter and garlic and parsley makes me lament about the sad state of affairs in the SF French places, where escargot is often overcooked and chewy. In Beaune, the escargot I got at couple of touristy places (which I randomly ate at due to ignorance) was still better than most in SF.
Next another dish with local flavor - a beef steak with an epoisses sauce - a nice (and more complex) alternative to a cream sauce. It's like a sophisticated version of the flavor combinations that make cheesesteak work.
Lastly, another creme brulee - it was straightforward and competent.
This was a simple but pleasurable dinner. It was reasonably priced, and the service was attentive and hospitable.