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Nov 5, 2009 11:18 PM

Cutting-edge food in the Dijon countryside?

Not sure if anyone can help with this, but here's what I'm looking for... a chef doing more experimental or cutting-edge type food (either a newer, more modern take on traditional French food, or something completely different). The location is making this harder... in the Burgundy countryside, north and west of Dijon (around Montbard, to be specific). (Although we would consider going into Dijon proper, if there's something really outstanding.)

To give a comparison to "home", we're looking for something like Alinea in Chicago or Coi in San Francisco.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance,


PS - We're heading to Chez Guy in Gevrey-Chambertin today, which sounds like what we're looking for. We'll see!

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  1. Not far away from Geveret-Chambertin is the Ferme de la Ruchotte.

    The ferme-auberge, which is an old tradition in the French countryside, is now a new trend for successful chefs to try a new terroir format. Examples (all in Basque country, hence unpronounceable): Ostalapia, Ilapia, Olhabidea.
    I myself am thrilled to be going to a farm that grows the veggies and raises the cattle that are going to be on my plate.

    Difficult to find a review in English, as not many English-speakers find their way to the beautiful farm. Found just two:

    5 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Super! Thanks for this. It's exactly the kind of place we try to find.

      1. re: Parigi

        Thanks, Parigi! Funny you should mention Ferme de la Ruchotte.... an Australian couple we met in Sancerre recently gave us some of their Burgundy research (since they were heading home), and this is one of the places they had read about.

        Here's the farm's own website in English:

        We'll try for reservations this weekend and report.


        1. re: waldrons

          Susan, Mangeur(se):
          The traditional ferme-auberges usually serve ultra fresh but not ultra sophisticated dishes.
          The Ruchotte and the Basque ones that I cited are different. They are run by well experienced chefs who want to do something different. They are more inventive and more sophisticated than the regular ferme-auberges.
          But I love both, and hope you do too.

          1. re: Parigi

            One question: I see in one of the blog photos an accordionist and singer with a mike. Tell me that this is some special event and not normal dinner entertainment...

            1. re: mangeur

              O dear. I have not seen any "entertainment" there. I don't think it's standard. Sometimes locals like to "charter" the whole ferme-auberge for a wedding party.
              Yes, if I were to arrive in the middle of the countryside to a ferme-auberge only to chance upon karaoke night, … o just shoot me.

      2. Ok, here's my report on Chez Guy. We really liked it. It was a bit different from traditional Burgundian food, but still based on recognizable precedents.

        Appetizers included eggs Meurette (a traditional dish with egg poached in red wine sauce), a foie gras poached in pinot noir, fricasse of escargot, etc. We had the oeufs parfait, a poached egg layered with a very light truffle/butter liquid (somewhere in consistency between a mousse and a foam), and scallops on a bed of bulgar "risotto". Both were quite good and the scallops were exceptional.

        Offerings on the main course menu included filet of duck, steak, beef cheeks (cooked a long time and served in a cast iron casserole), and I think 2 fish dishes. The mains we had weren't quite as good as the appetizers, but were still very good.

        My husband had the roasted guinea fowl, which was simple but quite juicy and flavorfull. I ordered the veal with foie gras sauce, and it was like a less-flavorful steak (I'm not 100% sure we got veal, as it was much redder than even the rose veal I've seen).

        We were going to skip dessert, but couldn't, so had the chocolat lait (a faux hot chocolate with milk foam atop liquid chocolate) and a take on tarte tatin (layered from the bottom with apple sauce, cooked diced apples, a "slice" of puff pastry and topped with fromage blanc ice cream).

        It was all quite lovely and vern modern inside, and packed at lunch time. They're open every day for lunch and dinner. The 3 courses were 33 Euros per person.

        This was definitely what we're looking for (or something even more modern, and less based on the classics would be even better).

        (By the way, I forgot to mention that we're not looking at 3-star Michelin places, otherwise we'd probably go to Bernard Loiseau's in Saulieu.)

        Any other suggestions would be welcome, as we're still here for another week.


        9 Replies
        1. re: waldrons

          Modern, cutting edge pretty well sums up "Le Charlemagne" in Pernand-Vergelesses which is between Dijon and Beaune. We dined there this past April and were astounded at what this young chef has accomplished out in the vineyards, all be it grand cru vineyards. This is a case of "build it and they will come".

          1. re: Laidback

            The bottle you brought from there was a dream. Sigh.

            1. re: Laidback

              I love this place, but make sure you are at the chef's table in the "kitchen". I have seen comments from folks who didn't "get it" and had negative views. Its both fusion and mystical at the same time. The folks in the kitchen were all under 30, except maybe the head guy. The service was fun, they wanted to know if we knew what the plate was all about when they served it, but in a friendly way. The was no panic in the kitchen, everyone seemed to know how to make things outstandingly. I had a lamb "burger" that was severed to look like it was straight out of Mickey D's, the fries were peas assembled as finger food. And the wines from right outside the door were perfect, both reds and whites.

              1. re: BlueOx

                BlueOx, it turned out we didn't need to ask for the chef's table, as we were pretty much the only people in the restaurant at lunch today (1 other table came in briefly for a couple of dishes, then left).

                So we were able to ask anything we wanted. And the staff all spoke very good English, so they were able to explain each dish, answer questions, and generally enhance our experience.

                I'd recommend it in a heartbeat to someone looking for something less traditional.


              2. re: Laidback

                Ooo, Le Charlemagne looks interesting, thanks! We'll try for this in the next few days, and report back.

                We found something rather good unexpectedly today, at Le Auberge de Pot d'Etain in L’Isle sur Serein. The setting was more traditional, but the dishes were either completely inventive or completely different uses of traditional ingredients.

                We had an Amuse of brandade of cabillaud (cod), which was very good, and served like a parfait.

                My husband had an appetizer of egg "en croute" (soft-cooked [maybe deep fried?] but with a crumb crust), with mushrooms. His main was Farm chicken (morsels with diced carrots and other veg).

                My appetizer was a "Gateau" of foie gras (sort of a mousse), with a main of a very refined pork confit.

                Desserts were variations on chocolate, which followed fromage blanc and local cheeses.

                We're trying Le Morvan in Luzy tomorrow (near Autun), so we'll see.


                1. re: waldrons

                  Ok, I asked for "cutting edge" and I've now got "cutting edge" to report. We had lunch today at Le Morvan and when I tell you the dessert was a chocolate lava cake where the "lava" that oozed out included guacamole, you'll understand just how "cut" that edge was! I'm not sure I liked it, but I do like food that can be talked about as enjoyably as eaten.

                  We had a 5-course menu, with an amuse that I've forgotten, an appetizer of what looked like a wedge of chocolate layer cake but with foie gras instead of cake and pork belly (I think) instead of frosting. My husband and I alternated the mains... he had the scallops (on a slice of pumpkin, with pumpkin mousse) and I had the duck breast. These sound normal, but the combinations of the garnishes and side ingredients were all very unusual, as were the presentations.

                  I can't wait to try Charlemagne later this week!


                  Edited to add that one of the bonbons with coffee was a bubblegum-flavored lollipop. Again, more interesting and fun than delicious.

                  1. re: waldrons

                    too bad you aren't getting up to Reims. You would enjoy Arnaud Lallement's (Assiette Champenoise) take on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. ;)

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      mmmmmmmmm, that sounds great! sigh... next time maybe.

                2. re: Laidback

                  Laidback, thank you, thank you, thank you!! Le Charlemagne was pretty much the epitome of what we were seeking! We turned out to be 1 of only 2 tables today at lunch and had an absolutely lovely experience.

                  Even though there were multiple amuses before and mignardises after, plus really good bread, and even with our six courses, we weren't in a food coma afterwards.

                  The food was iinventive, light, flavorful, and playful, which are some of our favorite things in restaurant food!

                  If you hadn't recommended this, I never would have known about it, and it just gave us the perfect finish to our 2 months in Burgundy. So thank you again!