As one might expect, the Côte d’Or has no shortage of excellent restaurants complete with superlative wine lists. On this visit, I discovered traditional gourmet experiences as well as more cutting-edge choices.
The 1930s villa housing this restaurant has pretty dining rooms, but the garden patio is its real glory. There we had an unforgettable lunch, starting with shelled escargot in a ring of fluffy garlic cream sauce. In the center, a hollow, falafel-like sphere contained more escargot bathed in butter infused with garlic and parsley. Just as good was the juicy Charolais beef with red wine sauce, mushrooms and a side of “mashed potatoes.” This crock of potato purée tasted ethereally light, and yet it was so rich with butter and cream that I have no doubt this dish has a place of honor on the dinner table in heaven.
Les Jardin des Remparts
10 Rue de l'Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune. Tel. (33) 3-80-24-79-41
This restaurant has an idyllic garden-and-mansion setting, like the more famous Jardin des Remparts, but an edgier menu. I had an appetizer of tangy and intense mackerel escabeche with pickled fennel and dots of carrot purée and fish sauce. For my main, a tender slice of leg of lamb came with crispy lamb sweetbreads and savory kidney, as well as fresh corn kernels, baby corn, corn purée and corn foam. A high-wire dessert of olive ice cream, strawberries and marshmallows provided a surprisingly successful finish.
Le Clos du Cèdre
10-12 Boulevard Marechal Foch, Beaune. Tel. (33) 3-80-24-01-01
This chic restaurant is located in a 17th-century building in the heart of Chambolle-Musigny, a tranquil hamlet a few miles off of Autoroute 31, north of Beaune. The sumptuous fare features modern interpretations of traditional cuisine such as foie gras with smoked eel and leeks, and slow-cooked veal. Dishes are paired with selections from the excellent wine list.
1 Rue Traversière, Chambolle-Musigny. Tel. (33) 3-80-62-80-37
Conveniently located in the heart of the Côte de Nuits region in the La Rôtisserie du Chambertin hotel, this bustling brasserie has a casual ambiance that belies its sophisticated cuisine. Featuring food rooted in local tradition, our mouthwatering meal included a hearty coq au vin, which was a splendid match with the Grand Cru Pinot Noir from the nearby Clos de Vougeot vineyard, and the most sublime profiteroles in recent memory.
6 Rue du Chambertin, Gevrey-Chambertin. Tel. (33) 3-80-34-33-20
This minimalist, 20-seat Japanese restaurant in Beaune is a break from the typical Burgundian establishment. Its 10-course tasting menu delivers world-class quality and creativity. The salted prawns and foie gras tempura stole the show, especially when paired with a glass of Meursault. The eclectic wine list offers noteworthy selections at reasonable prices. Book well in advance.
42 Rue Maufoux, Beaune. Tel. (33) 3-80-24-01-02
In the heart of Beaune, this local institution has a bustling atmosphere reminiscent of a Parisian brasserie. The menu features a host of expertly prepared classic recipes such as scrambled eggs with truffles, and duck breast with wild mushrooms. The selections accompany what may be Burgundy’s top wine list, with many highly coveted bottlings available for a fraction of their retail market value. Save room for the bountiful cheese selections. Reserve well in advance.
Passage Saint-Hélène, Beaune. Tel. (33) 3-80-22-30-22.
Set on the lively Place Carnot, this two-year old restaurant has already earned a Michelin star. The food mostly lived up to the honor, especially my appetizer of creamy crab gelée topped with sweet and fresh crabmeat, fennel fronds, pea tendrils and dots of fennel cream. But we were forced to divert our attention from the cuisine to the service, and we weren’t alone; we watched tables trying in vain to place an order, or even to get some water. “I have two tables ahead of you,” one harried water explained to an increasingly aggravated group celebrating a birthday. We sat for 20 minutes after requesting the check. Eventually we stood up and waited by the host stand, where finally we were able to pay. The poor staffing does a disservice to a fine chef.
4B Place Carnot, Beaune. Tel. (33) 3-80-24-22-42