Thanks to everyone who posts on this board. I mostly lurked, looking for recommendations for my trip to Bordeaux. I ended up eating well, and loved the city. Very friendly and elegant.
NoFa - first night (was supposed to be my second, but my first flight was cancelled). This is a very small, family run place. Mama ran the front of house with her baby tucked on, while Dad ran the kitchen, coming out to see how things were. The food was interesting, good, maybe just a bit fussy for me. Started with a Bavarian ricotta w/ lemon, and a Parmesan tomato cookie. The cookie was very good, but tiny, not enough to go with the ricotta, which needed some intensity. Then cannelloni of cuttlefish, with cuttlefish sausages. This was tasty. No room for dessert.
Au Bistrot - menu hit my sweet spots. Started with asparagus, nice big juicy ones. Next skate (ray) with more vegetables than I've ever been served in a French restaurant (this is not a complaint at all, far from it). We rarely see skate where I live, and I love it. I sat at the counter here, and it was fun watching the chefs. Wines by the glass were kind of eh, but I was told that this is the rule rather than the exception.
St. Emilion for lunch the next day, went to L'Huiteries Pie. I was eating and chatting with someone else this day, so didn't take notes, but the amuse here was 4 different bites with fish eggs, and they were all wonderful. Starter was an "almost perfect egg" that really was - nice and runny over a green sauce (sorry, can't remember exactly what this was, some herb?) with mushrooms. Next was a duck breast with a wine reduction. Delicious.
Atelier des Faures - tiny little place right near St-Michel. A very liquid meal (and not in the usual all-martini way). I started with a beet veloute. I'm not a big beet lover, but man, this was a great soup. Next was a dal, maybe a little underseasoned for my taste, but still very good. And finally a chocolate mouse under a pile of whipped cream. This meal doesn't read like it's very interesting, but it was wonderful.
Bouchon Bordelaise - I loved this place. Probably my favorite of the trip. Amuse was a quinoa/cucumber/avocado salad, and it tasted like home. Started with a tuna tartare, which normally comes with a "ham stick" but they were happy to leave that out for me. Then duckling supreme over sweet potato puree. The duck seemed to have maybe a soy and sweet marinade. It was delicious. This whole meal was delicious. No room for dessert.
Le Gabriel - I got talked into this one. Yes, great location, and they sat me at the table with the best view. But the service felt very stilted, and the food was a mixed bag. Started with popcorn with black truffle. I was still enjoying it and they whisked it away (not sure why). Starter was gravlax with grapefruit. This was a totally average gravlax. Next was scallops over parmesan risotto. This was wonderful. Very nicely cooked scallops, and delicious risotto. The only desserts that didn't have some sort of pork element (I guess gelatin or lard?) were sorbet and chocolate mousse. I went with the mousse. It was supposed to come with lemon sorbet, which sounded odd to me, texture and taste-wise, so I asked that the sorbet be left off. This was more like a cookie with some mousse on top, and then there were dabs of lemon curd throughout. I wasn't a fan.
A few other things to mention for other travelers: Fromagerie Deruelle is amazing. The wine bar at CIVB (I think I have ptipois to thank for this) is a great place to stop for a few glasses of wine. La Boulangerie (rue des Faures) was a great local (for me) place to get pastries each morning. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bordeaux. Everyone was friendly, and not being able to eat pork wasn't a problem, everyone was very understanding (not always the case). Thanks again to everyone.
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