Bordeaux: where's best to eat?
We will be spending a couple of nights in Bordeaux. The first evening we're arriving at the station at about 8.30pm and want a restaurant that's central and easy. The second evening we can be a bit more relaxed. We like low-key unsmart restaurants with either modern or traditional food, but not haute cuisine. Would be grateful for tips.
I don't have first hand experience, but Chazallet, who is based in Bordeaux (see http://www.chazallet.com/blog/restaur... for a French speaking review with pictures), and a number of guides consider the Hauterive St James as the best table locally. Not very far away (52km), in the middle of the wine country, in Pauillac, is one of the few French molecular gastronomy followers, called Thierry Marx. I ate his cuisine when he came to Paris and I believe he is one the most exciting French chefs today. There are several reviews and pictures on that same Chazallet website. The place is called Chateau Cordeillan-Bages, also a pleasant hotel.
Again, this is "secondary litterature", but this is what I would try if I were in your situation.
Brasserie le Noailles, very popular with locals. Good raw oysters with sausage, surprisingly delicious oeufs dur a thon mimosa (devilled eggs with tuna), excellent cote de boeuf for two, forget what all else. I'd go there again even though the waiter glared at us for being such gluttons.
12 allées de Tourny, 18.104.22.168. Near Quinconces and Grande Theatre tram stops.
The people at our hotel recommended La Belle Epoque. Chalkboard menu changes daily, 36€ (before supplements) for entree, plat, and dessert. Photo:
Excellent and unpretentious. Ate very well:
squid with a saute of sun-dried tomatoes and peppers
gratin of langoustines in a saffron-hazelnut sauce with tonka beans and spinach
fresh pasta with lobster, asparagus, and a sauce similar to what came with the squid
scallops with endive
Draink a chilled Ch. de Lachalze Brouilly '04, such a nice match that we got a second bottle.
Quai Louis XVIII, 05.56.79.14.58. Just around the corner from the Quinconces tram stop. Closed Sundays.
Second on La Tupiña. It was so good we ate there twice, would probably have gone a third time but we had only four nights in Bordeaux. My favorite kind of place, very rustic and traditional (some dishes cooked in the open hearth by the main entrance), but creative and ambitious within that context. Hearty servings.
sanguette (chicken blood cooked into a sort of omelette-like thing) with strong parsley-garlic sauce
white and green asparagus with cepes in a cream sauce in a buttery puff-paste box
scallops and morels in lobster reduction butter; great but disappointed that the scallops weren't served with their roe ... saw them in the markets but not in a restaurant the whole trip
roast chicken with potatoes fried in goose fat
"black pig" rib chip with potato puree
cheese plate (disappointing)
Second dinner: salt cod fillet sauteed with garlic, grilled veal kidney, cassoulet, all excellent. A steak from some sort of rare local breed of beef was good but overpowered by a sauce. Forgot and ordered the same boring cheese plate again.
Wine list has both fancy Bordeauxs and to me more interesting local stuff, drank a 2000 Cotes de Blaye, 2000 Baron d'Ardeuil Buzet, and 1999 Ch. Bouscasse Madiran, among others.
Short walk from the Saint Michel tram stop. Don't sit outside if you're bothered by cigarette smoke. Service can be a bit slow so I recommend ordering a glass or demi of the house rose or red as soon as you sit down so you'll have something to drink with the complementary dish of salame, cracklings, etc.
re: Robert Lauriston
Alas, La Tupina was so bad that it shook my faith in Chowhound! ~About three quarters of the diners were American or English, the service was both unfriendly and inefficient (we had to ask three times for a glass of wine as an aperitif) and the food varied from uninteresting to rather unpleasant (the sanguette and the clafoutis).
Unfortunately the other recommendations came too late for us, though we did find the wonderful macaron and cannele patisserie.
perhaps for the second day La Tupina, which is particularly "Bordeaux" and, while upscale, not so much haute cuisine as local cuisine. they have a web site (latupina.com I think) so you can visit their menu. The central square in the old city (Parliament near St. Catherine I think) has lots of pleasant bistros with outdoor seating and relaxed people watching. If you like oysters and fish, you rarely get bad seafood in Bordeaux.