Over one hundred and fifty million years ago the geological and tectonic forces that created the western Alps helped form what is known today as the valleys of the wine region of Burgundy. As this mega-geological shift settled, giant formations of limestone became the bedrock of this area, creating the “terroir” that today produces some of the world’s greatest wines which can be found at a variety of outstanding Burgundy restaurants..
Bordeaux’s Little Sister
Though Burgundy is at times considered Bordeaux’s “little sister”, many wine connoisseurs will tell you that the wines produced in this area, from the fruit-filled Pinot Noirs to the full and earthy Chardonnays, are by far the best in the world – and as far as this writer is concerned, I tend to agree.
I have visited this area of France a few times, and each visit has brought a variety of delightful culinary and gastronomic experiences. I usually settle in the city of Beaune, which is strategically located in the middle of this magnificent wine region along the Cote D’Or, driving distance to the Burgundian temples of enology such as Nuit St George, Mersault, Montrachet and Macon to name just a few.
Unique Burgundy Restaurants and Eateries
The number of delicious restaurants and small eateries at your disposal in this area are infinite, however two places stand out for me and are just a small example of the diversity of food experiences one can have in this area.
Ma Cuisine is a family owned bistro smack in the center of Beaune, frequented by both locals and visitors alike. It specializes in local dishes headlined by classics such as Beef Bourgognone, Escargot, Pate de Foie Gras, Riz de Veau (sweet breads) and a variety of other delicious options. I opted for a Foie Gras salad followed by the Cabillaud, local cod, that was cooked as perfectly as any piece of fish I had ever had anywhere, accompanied by the silkiest mashed potatoes on earth. I finished my meal with a homemade rustic fig tart, which, by the way, I have reproduced at home and will provide the recipe for in one of my future entries.
A few kilometers outside of Beaune is the iconic town of Montrachet, best known for its delectable white wines. Just outside the center of town is the Hotel Le Montrachet, which includes a Michelin Star Burgundy restaurant by the same name – a treat that is not too extravagant nor will it break the bank though certainly a “splurge” when it comes to having a good lunch in the countryside. The setting is simple but elegant, not pretentious at all, you can go in causal clothes though jeans and t-shirt are not recommended. The service is everything you would expect from a single starred establishment, courteous and efficient, certainly not suffocating or intimidating. The wine list is vast, my friend Bruno selected a local red from Montrachet, a “neighborhood wine”, which was as delightful as a Pinot can possibly be – light, subtle fruit and easy to drink.
The highlight of my meal was a roasted Poulet de Bresse, the beautiful blue footed chicken that is unique to this part of France, and though having a tougher consistency than your normal chicken, its flavor is incomparable to anything you have ever had before. It is served in two parts, first the breast is delicately carved and served with locally grown vegetables, followed by the dark meat which is served with the chicken jus and mashed potatoes. Appetizers included a Langostine Soup while dessert included a variety of small sweets that were all beautifully made without being too heavy.
The Options are Endless
Both of these Burgundy restaurants provide different yet typical experiences from this beautiful part of the French wine country. From the simplest café or bistro to the many Michelin starred restaurants of the area, Burgundy offers such a wonderful variety of culinary experiences – I know I shall return again and again not only to drink my favorite Pinot’s but to try new and exciting local restaurants.