Troisgros or Bras?
Hello Chowhounders - hoping you can share some wisdom. We will be flying in from Corsica to Clermont-Ferrand, and both restaurants seem like reasonable driving distances. Cost matters aside, if we could only do one, which would you recommend?
I had a similar dilemma and ended up choosing Bras. I visited in September 2012 and stayed at the hotel. Both dinner and the service we received at the hotel was wonderful. The landscape around Bras and the Aveyron region was so captivating that I'd give the edge to Bras from an atmosphere perspective. Based on my own research, I'd guess that many would give the food/wine edge to Troisgros. If I was being especially critical, I'd have to admit there were a few minor flaws in the food and service at Bras, but nothing that diminished our experience.
I'm sure you'd enjoy either restaurant, but I think much depends on what style of cooking you are looking for and whether just the meal itself is the most important factor. Bras was memorable for us partially for the meal, but more for the journey there, the hotel and the beauty of the surrounding area. I didn't think Troisgros would have all those same factors so it was a fairly easy decision for me.
Hope you enjoy whichever place you choose.
(Forgive me if you've already know this, but not knowing when you're trip is, keep in mind that Bras doesn't open until April for the 2013 season)
Wish l could help you, but it seems l cannot.
Troisgros was a wonderful experience, the food, the service, able to eat in the glass room in a driving rainstorm and staying hours longer drinking one super wine after another.
Bras was also so stellar, the room key of cow horn, the knife stores of Laguiole, that M Bras allowed me to make aligot with him, another perfect experience.
Thus you cannot go wrong.
But for food alone, l would pick Troisgros.
To see Michel while you still can, Bras.
I'd do Troisgros given the choice. I like the food better than Bra's and the standard of service is much better.
Also, you'll find the drive to it much easier. The route down to Bra's is beautiful, but slow. Once you get there there's not much to see except lots of touristy knife places in the village.
We find Roanne a much more interesting town.
The food will be great in wither place, but watch out for the over priced wines at Bra's.
We stayed an ate at Bras on late September 2012 and I can hardly believe that what it is supposed to be a three Michelin starred restaurant showed such lack of care and professionalism in its service.
The sommelier, while visible attending the rest of the guests through the entire meal, only approached us at the beginning of the menu and simply dissapeared and ignored our table for the rest of the meal. The 'cold' service was really a succession of unfortunate mistakes: glasses remained unfulfilled for several minutes (on occasions for five or more minutes), the serviettes and knives though dirty remained unchanged for the entire meal (although they told you that the knive will remain unchanged, in order to keep some kind of Laguiole tradition, in one occasion I left the really dirty knive on the plate in order to be changed and the waitress simply took it and left it again on my side) and finally we repeatedly felt that our table was being neglected. The staff seems too young and too unexperienced.
No effort was also made to translate the ingredients of the plates on spanish or english language. When we asked for a translation, the waiters only repeated for only one more time and on french language the name of the plate and just dissapeared. And the 'missing' sommelier is Argentinian, but as I said before he showed a great determination to just ignore us along the entire dinner (we still do not know why he adopted such attitude).
My wife left half course and also, as me, two entire desserts and we still waiting some interest coming from the service or from the house about if something with our meal was going wrong or if something could be arranged. They simply removed the plates without any interest in knowing what was happening or why they remained partly or even completely untouched. In addition, the meal did not work well with me and I could not sleep for the entire night.
The food, while good it was not in any way memorable. I only found to be really three Michelin food, the Gargouillou and (maybe) the lamb. Lack of flavor on several dishes. Huge.., extreme disappointment with the desserts. Even the final ice creams were lacking flavor!
When we were finally leaving the restaurant, we approached the 'missing' sommelier and told him that the dinner did not meet our expectations. He showed a great indifference towards our opinion, as if our disappointment had really no interest for him or for the house.
Regretably, almost five months after the visit I can hardly believe what we experienced at Bras. It is just unbelievable!. We have eaten in so many three Michelin stars restaurants to know that no remote comparision (exceptuating the prices) can be established between any of them and Bras.
re: Rio Yeti
For several years I have dreamed to go to Bras and I went to the restaurant really as a huge fan. Regretably, you can see my review. However, the Aubrac zone is really, really beautiful (but a bit inaccesible) and we both enjoyed Bras as a hotel (if you finally go, do not hesitate to book a room). But we went to Bras for the dinner and you can read how huge was our disappointment. And this is our shared impression. I'm the first to regret this hard review, but this is just what we honestly think.
I'd go with the vote in favour of Troisgros, for the food (love the Asian influences), warmth, wine list, all-round experience. Bras is cool: food, 'welcome', decor. I interviewed MBras on both occasions we ate there. He was visibly bored, verging on hostile, answered only with huge reluctance any ?s I had. What redeems the place (just about) is the achingly beautiful Plateau d'Aubrac on which it sits (at 1000 metres) - I loved the region (reminds me of the Yorkshire Dales, dry stone walls and all). Roanne, a rather nondescript, slightly industrial town, isn't in the same league - but I think you're interested in the food and the dining experience, rather than the scenery, right? Also worth trying, in case you couldn't get a booking at Troisgros in roanne, is their 'farmhouse restaurant' at Iguerande (see map/website, it's a bit NE of Roanne - you can stay there too. Only open summer. Sounds a lot of fun, rather like Michel Guerard's farmhouse place, haven't been there yet but live in hope...
re: Sue Style
"Also worth trying, in case you couldn't get a booking at Troisgros in roanne, is their 'farmhouse restaurant' at Iguerande (see map/website, it's a bit NE of Roanne - you can stay there too. Only open summer. Sounds a lot of fun, rather like Michel Guerard's farmhouse place, haven't been there yet but live in hope..."
Wholeheartedly recommend the Colline in Iguerande. http://www.troisgros.fr/colline.php We have stayed here twice and plan to return this year. The cadoles are spacious and beautifully equipped apartments set in the fields or the garden, stocked with copious breakfast supplies and replenished each day with fresh baked goods and fruit. Excellent dinners in the Grand Couvert restaurant on site. We usually take one dinner at the Colline and drive into Roanne for one dinner. They make all the dinner reservations for you when you book. Two night stay required at the Colline (whose restaurant is closed Wednesday, June through September and Wednesday and Thursday after September). Highly recommend.
I haven't been to Troisgros but my experience dining twice at Bras differed from that of most of the other diners on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/854933
In my opinion, several of the dishes we ate at Bras were as good as at any other restaurant we have been to in France (including l'Arpège and l'Ambroisie). I do nonetheless agree that the service (especially the wine service) is inferior to that at Parisian three star restaurants. If you order à la carte, though, Bras is cheaper than the Parisian three stars, with very generous portions. Skip dessert.
The Bras hotel is incredible (with charming service) and the view from the dining room can be spectacular if the weather is good. The drive to Bras is scenic.