So, this is the last of my three posts about my gastronomic expedition through Bordeaux. My previous posts saw me demolishing a huge cut of beef at a Bordelaise Brasserie and eating oysters with the locals in Marché des Capucins. Both of these experiences were excellent, but I wanted to experience some fine dining whilst I was in this region given its renown for haute cuisine. The opportunity came when we were in St. Emilion and were recommended a Michelin-starred restaurant by our hotel, Auberge St-Jean, which is sited right on the banks of the Dordogne river and features some stunning panoramic views over the river.
We started with a lovely little amuse-bouche which featured a morsel of fresh salmon sat atop a delightfully-fresh and flavoursome pea puree. The addition of micro-herbs and caviar gave a dash of class and style to this pre-appetiser which certainly got our stomachs warmed up and ready to eat!
For my starter (apologies, my photograph for this course didn’t come out very well) I had a fresh salad which featured some oysters that had been very lightly poached and served with white asparagus, edible flowers, white and black rice crackers, along with a rather interesting ice cream that gave the dish some temperature contrasts whilst you were eating it. This was just what I expected from this kind of restaurant; precision cooking, presented extremely smartly and delivering some great flavours. We were off to a good start…
Second course was Côte de Bigorre Black Pig, white asparagus, dauphinoise potatoes with fresh almonds and a raspberry ketchup. As you’ll be able to see from the picture this was another nicely presented, if somewhat chaotic, plate of food. Naturally the star of this dish was the deliciously succulent black pig. It was wonderfully tender and had just the right amount of fat on top of it; I think it had been cooked in a water bath judging by the colour of the meat. All around the plate were plenty of delicious little morsels to tuck into. The balls of dauphinoise potatoes with fresh almonds were surprisingly light and airy, with a lovely richness from the almond. I was also really impressed with the richness of the sauce that was served with the dish, but also how well the slightly sweet raspberry ketchup complimented the fatty pork. It all came together really nicely and the best thing about a plate like this with so many different elements is that you got to try many different combinations of flavours and textures as you made your way around the plate.
To go with the food I thought that I’d go with a white. We were in the middle of a two day tasting tour around St. Emilion and Pomerol (read about that here) and as such some white was going to be a nice change up. I plumped for a 2011 Chateau Haut-Bergey (Pessac-Leognan). On the nose it had warm, citrus fruit with zesty lemon and juicy orange notes. There was also evidence of some light floral notes too. On the palate the acidity was medium, but overall it felt like it was a well balanced wine. The dominant flavours were oranges, whilst there were some secondary notes of kiwi fruit. The finish to this wine was pretty pronounced and left a very pleasing sensation in the mouth. This was an excellent wine and complimented the food nicely. Quality 8.0/10.0.
By now I’m sure you’ll know me well enough to know that there was only one way that I was going to go after the main course… FROMAGE! When the cheese trolley arrived I knew I’d made the right choice, I wanted to try all of them! In the end I went with a fairly usual selection: one blue, a couple of goats, one sheep and one camembert that was so ripe it was positively oozing. I normally like to try fit the text around the pictures, but I think this one deserves to be blown up so that you can see it in all its glory! Bravo!!
All in all we were very pleased with this restaurant. As you’ll see from the picture of the wine above the tables in the restaurant do have stunning views over the Dordogne. One tip if you’re going to go here, make sure that you ask ahead of time to get the best seats in the house – we were on a side that was absolutely bathed in sunlight as the sun went down, meaning it was very difficult to see across the table for about half an hour. Once the sun had gone down however, we were left with a simply beautiful view and memories of some lovely food.