I have recently returned from my first trip to Bordeaux. This trip was amazing for many reasons; I went to a fantastic wedding of a good friend, I spent two days wine tasting in St. Emilion and Pomerol (to read about that check out my post on Vinspire), I met some lovely people and I enjoyed the beautiful Bordelaise countryside. As you would no doubt expect I also spent quite a bit of time tracking down some of the best places to eat in this gastronomic paradise. This is the first of three pieces that I am going to write about the places I found.
I wanted to find a traditional Brasserie. Something with good, honest, hearty food, aimed at people who like to enjoy their food. On our first evening I followed a recommendation from out Airbnb host and was very disappointed with the result. On the second evening, however, we were to be much more lucky. We went to Brasserie L’Orléans in the Quinconces area. I’d heard that his was a popular spot amongst those in the wine trade and given that is was the week that Vinexpo was on it was indeed very busy – we were very lucky to get a table in fact. The restaurant was absolutely buzzing in th way that a Bordelaise Bistro should be, the waiters and waitresses were running around at a fevered pace as they tried to keep up with the demands of the patrons. The decor was pleasingly traditional with dark, old-looking wood paneling and lots of momentoes to the wine trade, as well as photos of previous staff members and famous people who had eaten there.
I started the meal with a Carpaccio of Beef with fresh Parmesan, Capers and Rocket. The beef was razer thin and deliciously tender. The combination of the juicy beef and the salty Parmesan and Capers was spot on. It was all brought together with a nice drizzle of good-quality olive oil. The portion size was pleasingly large – just what I was after in a Brasserie.
After this we decided to up the ante. We were on holiday after all… We went for the Grilled Prime Rib of Beef (for two) served with Bone Marrow. We were asked how we wanted the beef cooked and at this moment my (extremely limited) French completely deserted me. I ended up asking for it “rouge”, I didn’t dare ask for it “bleu”!! When the dish arrived it was breathtaking. The smell emanating from the plate was delicious and the size was a little intimidating!
The outside of the meat was a nice dark colour indicating that this had been cooked on a very high heat, but when we cut into the middle the “rouge” of the middle of the meat demonstrated that they hadn’t cooked it for very long at all! As someone who does like their meat on the rare side this was a real pleasure for me. My wife, however, likes it more to the medium-rare side and this was a bit under for her. Luckily with the huge portion of meat we were able to find sections at the edges that were more cooked, which left me to tackled the middle of the cut, which was on the rarer side. The meat was absolutely delicious. There was barely any sinew on it, leaving mouthful after mouthful of wonderfully succulent, juicy, flavoursome, delicious prime beef. This really is up there as probably the best cut of beef that I’ve ever eaten. The marrow on the side was nice, fatty and salty; three was just to any for us to eat, however. All in all, I was left in gastronomic delight by this beautiful dish.
To go with this great dish I needed to order something similarly special. Given that we were going to spend two days tasting wines on the Right Bank I thought that I should head to the Left Bank for this wine. I plumped for a 2007 Chateau Léoville Barton (St. Julien-Beychevelle), a 2eme Cru Classé. The wine was medium garnet in the glass and was showing faint signs of age. On the nose I got figs and juicy strawberries intermingled with smoke, cloves and cinnamon. When tasting, however, I was blown away. The wine was silky smooth with very subtle tannins; the fruit flavours that came through were ripe strawberries and black cherries. The finish was easily two minutes long and sent me into raptures. I had never drink a 2nd growth before and I will remember this wine for a long time. Quality 9.0; Value 5.0.
After this monstrous main course we couldn’t face a full dessert so we shared a rather delectable raspberry macaroon.
This was exactly what I was after from a Brasserie style dinner. Good hearty food, excellently cooked and leaving one extremely satisfied. This certainly made up for the disappointment of the first night and got our holiday off to a somewhat belated good start.
Stay tuned for the rest of my discoveries….