Eating well in Alsace
Le Buerehiesel in Strasbourg (restaurant review)
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
24 March 2018
OK so it cost me more than €120 … but lunch here was fabulous.
I had enjoyed lunch here a few years back with a work colleague and it was a positive experience for about the same price. But this time, it was even better.
Since he took over the restaurant from his father Antoine, son Eric Westermann has slowly increased his imprint. “His cuisine is getter finer,” remarked a longtime client of the restaurant, who knew Antoine very well and with whom I enjoyed the lunch.
The cuisine here – in the gorgeous setting of the Orangerie Park near the European institutions of Strasbourg – combines Alsatian tradition and originality, perpetuating the legendary reputation of the establishment, which at one point enjoyed three Michelin stars. It now has one.
In any case, the lunch we enjoyed on a freezing late March day this year could have been less expensive, had my friend and I not ordered a bottle of wine, plus two glasses of white port for the dessert.
But who would we have been kidding? We both love wine and food, so we went for the Jean Francois Ganevat Cuvée Florine Sous La Roche Chardonnay Côtes du Jura 2010. This was my first experience with this Chardonnay, which was not oxidative but rather reductive in nature (for a primer on these terms, wine author Jane Anson published this informative article several years ago).
Indeed, the producer is well known, and prices have been going up. This 2010 exuded energy as well as refined flavors. It opened up throughout the course of our lunch, and by the time we got to the main course – slow cooked and stuffed veal – it was a very fine match.
We were very happy with the wine, especially as other “more famous” regions get ever more pricey for (most) restaurant wine lists. We almost went for a Saint Aubin white for €80 – a decent enough restaurant price – but we both know of Saint Aubin (The wine list included rather absurdly priced Bordeaux, such as a Château Haut Marbuzet 2011 for over €120, but that’s another story…). Unlike white Burgundy, this Jura was not as full bodied as, say, a Meursault, but it proved nuanced and rather substantial on the palate, in a subtle manner. It was certainly well balanced and fun to drink!
But let’s focus on the restaurant, its service and its food.
All smiles and welcoming. With our coats and umbrellas checked, we were led into a side room, separate from the main restaurant and quite elegant and cozy at the same time.
A small pre-starter sample of octopus over a cream of avocado with tomato and olive oil proved very pleasurable – and got us salivating for more.
The €37 per person lunch menu started with a most originally presented “Timbale d’écrevisse” with a hill of perfectly arranged spaghetti, wrapped around to form a shape like an Assyrtiko vine on Santorini Island.
There was real freshness to the dish, with spinach leaves, surrounded – and balanced by – a creamy sea of Champignon de Paris emulsion, flavorful and velvety smooth. The Nantua sauce accentuated the dish nicely.
But the main course of stuffed breast of veal showed how we were going crescendo: it must have been slow cooked. With deliciously spicy stuffing, the meat literally melted in your mouth.
The herb crust along with spring vegetables including turnips and carrots added freshness and lightness to the richness – and the entire plate was so gorgeously presented. By this time the wine had gained in aromatics, and substance on the palate, pairing well with the main course.
The dessert – banana encased in fine chocolate with green lemon to accentuate the flavors – was yet again gorgeously presented, complete with an arc lending panache to the ensemble, which was delicious. We really appreciated the sommelier’s choice of a Niepoort white to go with it.
For a while we were a bit stumped as to which wine would go with banana … But the White Porto’s slight oxidative aspects matched the banana perfectly. It was not a standard by-the-glass menu selection, but the sommelier suggested it, recognizing our keen interest in wine and food. An added plus for the restaurant: attentive service.
The end game was a fireworks display of mignardises, from a ginger paste candy to fine truffles, among other sweet delicacies. The coffee? Of excellent quality, although not as smooth and refined one that I had enjoyed at La Toute Petite Auberge when recently in the Côte de Nuits: one of the best restaurant coffee experiences I have had in a French restaurant that is not hugely expensive.
In any case, Le Buerehiesel offers you a very fine experience for an upscale lunch in Strasbourg. If you plan to visit the city for vacation, and are a foodie (and wine-y), do not hesitate: Highly recommended.