Le Champlain, restaurant and maison d'hote, LILLE
Le Champlain is an oasis of posh civility in central Lille, the love-child of Denis and Sylvie Gaboriau. Sylvie restored the townhouse with utmost sensibility for period and style, maintaining the 12 foot ceilings and 8 foot doors. The same demand for quality shows in the bedding, bath and breakfast. Each morning brought orange juice, fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, cheeses, toasts, crepes, croissants, assorted breads, soft-boiled eggs.
Their tiny (18 cover) elegant restaurant has earned the Michelin "bib" designation. Denis serves beautiful and delicious plates as part of either 3-course (29€) or 5 course (45€) menus which include 25cl wine and coffee. Last night we enjoyed an smuse of cucumber gaspacho with whipped feta, entree of pain d'epice, foie gras and rhubarb with safron ice cream, violet srtichoke braised with bacon topped with grilled prawns, saddle of lamb with stuffed zucchini cups, a strawberry, mango and cream filled eclair and as mignardises meringuee, strawberry marshmallows and chocolate-reglisse "brownies" accompamied by a white and a red wine, both from Gascony. The artichoke and the lamb were exceptional; the other plates were very good.
This is a darling address. It is truly a 2-man show, with Denus and Sylvie doing what they love and doing it well.
17, rue Nicolas Leblanc
Lille is indeed a beautiful and sophisticated city, contrary to Ch'ti jokes. And the Gaboriaus are among the most generous and thoughtful we have visited. Besides luxe rooms/suites, they open their secluded garden and living room to guests. And Sylvie proudly took us on a tour of her recently opened cave in which she has installed a spa and teak sauna. Everything about this property and the Gaboriaus' services is quality.
I should add that they are a darling couple sharing a wry and droll humor. In four short days I have come to adore them.