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Trip Report: Burgundy, Loire Valley, and Paris

JohnTalbotWannabe | May 29, 201510:32 PM

In the fall of 2014, we had a total of 10 days in Burgundy, Loire Valley, and Paris. We do not keep notes of our stops, so apologies in advance for the incomplete nature of this report.

Beaune: we had a very jet-lagged but excellent dinner at Ma Cuisine. We had a reservation but arrived early (see jet lag), and they were kind enough to accommodate the change. The standout dish was scrambled eggs with truffles. (I'm certain the name of the dish, which escapes me now, was more elegant than I've described it.) The eggs were perfectly luxurious and soft. The dish had just the right amount of truffles, which had an appropriate crisp that contrasted well with the eggs. All the other dishes we had were very good, including beef beef bourguignon and escargot.

The next day, with rested eyes and full bellies, we took D974 up through various villages, including Aloxe Corton and Nuits-Saint-Georges. One stop worth noting was Fromagerie Gaugry, where, for only 5 euro, we had a generous sample of five cheeses, including a delicious Époisses (along with some wine and bread to serve as vessels for the cheese).

We ended the day in Dijon, where we had not made any dinner reservations, but luckily ended up at the last table available at DZ'Envies. Although our opinion might have been colored by how happy we were to get the last table, the meal was excellent. We began with bread and escargot, both of which were very good (the escargot was just the right of amount of buttery). The fries might have been some of the best during our entire trip, or at least as we like them, very crispy with just a slight hint of the softness of a potato contained within. Perhaps best of all was the steak tartare, which was prepared perfectly: the meat sung with freshness, mildly highlighted with but not at all overwhelmed by the usual additions, with which many kitchens use far too heavy of a hand to my tastes (e.g, mustard, shallots).

We then travelled to the Loire Valley and used Blois as our base for two nights. We wanted to dine at L'Orangerie du Château, but it was closed both nights. Instead, we had two fine dinners, although nothing worth dwelling on for too long. The meal at Bistro du Cuisiner was good and we would recommend it. We dined the second night at the relatively inexpensive Poivre et sel, which stood out for its cozy and friendly atmosphere. The food was good, not great, but we certainly enjoyed the incredibly generous serving of fries and mussels.

One note: on our way to Blois, we stopped in Chablis, including a few wineries. We found this part of the trip, at least scenically, incredibly underwhelming, perhaps because it was sandwiched in between Burgundy and a whirlwind of castles in the Loire.

We made our way to Paris for a few days. We had dinner at Le Cinq, which I've reviewed in length here:

Otherwise, we could not resist the tourist temptation, and had an evening at Le Soufflé where we had the Le Menu Tradition (3 different soufflés). We would describe this experience as once-in-a-lifetime only because you likely will never want to do this again in your life after one experience. In fact, we gag at the mere mention of soufflés ever since our trip. Do not be mistaken: their soufflés are expertly made and, as far as the technical merits of a soufflé go, they deliver the appropriate amount of airiness with egg texture. However, almost every soufflé on the menu seems to come with something inside of it and/or poured on top it, which, in almost every case, is either an incredibly heavy cream-based substance or overly-sweet butter-based dessert liquid. I imagine if you are head over heels for soufflé, you may enjoy this stop more than we did. If we were forced to go back, we would limit ourselves to one small savory and one small dessert soufflé.

We also had lunch at Breizh Café (in the 3rd). One of the diners realized that she had a buckwheat allergy, only halfway through consuming a buckwheat crepe. So her opinion is out of consideration. The other diner enjoyed his well-made crepe, although in retrospect, we both preferred the sweet crepes from various street vendors.

After seeing hounders rave about Chez Denise, we tried to make our way in without reservations. We had a rather unfriendly interaction with an unwelcoming gentlemen when we asked if there were any tables; as you may guess, there were none. (We'd also note that this the only time we experienced overt rudeness in a restaurant in France. Almost everyone else was generally lovely.) Not willing to wait until midnight to dine at the earliest and risk potentially rude service, we went next door to Lamfe. Given that we did not know what to expect at Lamfe, we were pleasantly surprised by everything meat-related and disappointed by everything that was not meat-related. In particular, we enjoyed a burger and a steak tartare. We were, however, disappointed with a half-hearted french onion soup and a completely preposterous baba au ruhm, the latter of which was essentially plain yellow cake with a bottle of rum for us to use to pour over the cake as we liked. In retrospect, if we were more the pirating type, we would have been thrilled.

Based on chowhound recommendations (and John Talbott's posts in particular), we also tried to go to Spring, although we stupidly did not make reservations, and they were booked solid for the duration of our stay. We instead, on our last night, ate at Racines 2 (in the 1st). Due to a miscommunication, we had the terrible misfortune (OOPS!) of having the kitchen create a tasting menu for us, notwithstanding its absence from the menu. We do not remember what we ate (perhaps due to consuming far too much wine), but it was a very good meal, hopefully not only because it was our last night. At the least, we received a serviceable cheese plate.

We also ate in an impromptu fashion at a few small places in the Latin Quarter, none of which were memorable (or at least, we do not remember their names).

One day we engaged in a croissant, macaroon and eclair tour, focused in large part on the Marais. As others on here have generally said, the deliciousness of these items is largely dictated by their freshness. I apologize that we do not remember the names of most of our stops. But we did remember our mini-eclairs from L'Atelier de l'Éclair (near Les Halles), which, although might not have been the freshest eclairs by the time we were there in the afternoon, certainly had very interesting flavors. One of us, who adores baba au ruhm, had his favorite version of it on this trip from Stohrer (near Les Halles), which has enough publicity that we need not write about it here.

We hope this is a fraction as helpful as everyone else's posts have been! Chowhound was invaluable in planning this trip.

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