Wantzenau--near Strasbourg, Alsace
For a variety of reasons, for our recent trip to Alsace, we decided to stay at the Moulin de la Wantzenau (http://www.moulin-wantzenau.com/index...), a location near the autoroute A4 (Reason #1), just above Strasbourg and the wine route (Reason #2--altho to get to the latter one needs to drive through the former, which can be a bit of a struggle during rush hour), but situated along the l'Ill with a pleasant mile-long walking path (Reason #3, especially if you're a jogger or appreciate pleasant walks before and after dinner to help assuage guilt and calorie-intake) into Wantzenau, one of the many Alsatian gourmet villages (Reason #5, altho we didn't take great advantage of this last aspect, for additional reasons given below).
The mill itself proved to be an excellent spot with pleasant, spacious rooms and friendly, efficient service (it seems to attract a lot of business travelers) at a moderate price (102 euros sans petite dej.) It also has an excellent restaurant attached, and although we didn't originally intend to eat there, it turned out to be the site of two of our dinners.
Despite a proliferation of choices, we only dined once in Wantzenau, at the Hotel Zimmer. Although its name would suggest traditional Alsatian offerings, the menu had more of a Michelin one-star ambiance and presentation. The plating was invariably a delight and the menu innovative (scallops paired with boudin noir and anglerfish on a bed of white beans floating on a coconut-cream sauce were our mains), although the seafood turned out to be, for the lack of a better word, "tired," as if the restaurant was driven as much by economy as by art. Our real target in Wantzenau was Le Jardin Secret (see Pudlo), which we discovered had been undergoing renovation for 6 months, reopening on the day of our arrival. Atho we are venturesome, this was a bit risky for our first trip to Alsace in 20 years, and since the other restaurants turned out to be pricier than expected (Le Relais de la Poste, Les Semailles) or offered boring menus, we decided to try the Moulin.
This proved, in general, to be a good decision. The seafood was perfectly altho simply prepared, and we had quite a variety including scallops, a carpaccio of salmon, and several filets of white fish (sandre, St.-Pierre, John Dory). Also, I'm not often surprised by chocolate, but my dessert, chocolate mille-feuille encasing a chilled dark-chocolate fondant and chantilly, accompanied by a scoop of mint sorbet, was just that: surprising and awfully good.
All good enough to convince us to return a second night. Moreover, I was very much intrigued by the "healthy" menu the chef was featuring. This turned out, however, to be a serious mistake. The melange of vegetables so interestingly described in the menu turned out to be Legumes bouillis a l'hopital and the magret of duck seemed to be prepared by this master chocolatier with contempt rather than with art. My attitude was not improved by my S.O.'s continual chortling over her distinctly unhealthy torchon of foie gras poele which she was reluctant to share, and altho the dessert of an excellent rhubarb jell accompanied by a yogurt parfait proved some compensation, the experience was enough to convince me to swear off bonne sante menus in France forever.
But not enough to discourage me from returning to the Moulin if the occasion should arise.