Visiting Bordeaux’s châteaux and tasting the wines all morning (of say Château Beausejour Bécot or Figeac in St Emilion or Léoville Poyférré and Pontet Canet in the Medoc) can be very hard work. It is important to take a good pit-stop in the middle of the day to nourish ourselves with good food in a good ambience. To be able to relax in a fun lively atmosphere, yes perhaps with a glass of wine, and resume and deliberate over the events of the day so far and what’s to come. With timings to consider, it is important that the service is efficient, avoiding any unnecessary rushing to get to rendez vous au château in time. You are on Holiday after all! Also that the meal does not take too long (we are here to see the sites primarily) and is reasonably priced. It is important not too much to take the edge of the evening’s plans for dinner in size or cost.
Here are my favorite restaurants that fit the bill when visiting the wine régions of Bordeaux;
My all-time favorite (yes I admit it is a bit my own ver special canteen) is the Atelier de Candale, in a quiet setting 2km from St Emilion overlooking the vineyards of this small wine château andale owned by the barrelmakers, Vicard. The medieval village of St Emilion gets very busy with tourists and it is a delight to be able to dine in such a calm beautiful setting just down the road.
The food is always delicious, inventive, beautifully presented created by Cyril and served with impeccable service by Marina. Modern and beautiful setting. Often see many well-known St Emilion wine people here. And with all that said it is great value for money. Great interactive wine list. Reserve! email@example.com (05 57 75 00 09)
I know I should be more adventurous perhaps but for me the Café Lavinal just tucked behind Château Lynch Bages outside of Pauillac is where I like to dine in the Médoc between Châteaux visits. It is like an old shoe, comfortable and reassuring. The food is always good, French bistrot cooking at its nourishing best with recipes that could have come from owner’s Jean-Michel Caze’s grandmother’s old notebook (and probably did. His grandfather who bought the property in the 1930s was the local baker). It is a bustling, atmospheric bistrot filled with wine people. Reserve! firstname.lastname@example.org 05 57 75 00 09
The setting of the tiny Bages Hamlet is picturesque, recently having been renovated and rebuilt by the Cazes (rather than flattening the deserted Hamlet Jean-Michel has brought it back to life) with a specialist grocers, gift and wine shop and one of the region’s best butchers (he sells the region’s specialities such as milk fed lamb of Pauillac, ‘grenier de médocain’ a sort of brawn and chitterlings! Yes the Médoc has its own food specialities along with its wines!
For those who are staying near Pauillac in the Médoc, the 2 Michelin star Cordeillan Bages Restaurant (also a Relais & Château Hotel) is a must for dinner. It is one of only two 2 star Michelin restaurants in Bordeaux (the other is in St Emilion of course, the chef is the French equivalent of Gordon Ramsay, Philippe Etchebest). The chef here is Jean-Luc Rocha, Meilleur Ouvrier in 2007 and from Portuguese origins.
I have just read the cookery book Lynch Bages & Co (Glenat) a wonderful collection of recipes from this restaurant and also the Cazes family recipes from their different nationalities intermingled from Israel, to Iran to Portugal and Mozambique and of course La Douce France but modernised and given an artistic beatiful treatment. It is presented by Jean-Michel Cazes and he explains his love of the Médoc, the development of Lynch Bages through the ages, the implication of his own family right up to the current time. A delightful read.
Another excellent choice in the Médoc is the new restaurant ‘Le Bon Temps’ in Cussac-Fort Médoc near to St Julien. It is run by a wife
GRAVES & SAUTERNES
L’Entrée du Jardin in Cadillac is a wonderful restaurant run by Didier Bergey and his family. (the profession of being chef has been passed down through the générations (normally the women were chefs and ran the restaurants). The ingrédients come from the local market and the portions are quite large but quite delicious http://www.restaurant-cadillac.com
For dinner Le Saprien overlooking the vineyards of Guiraud, is gastronomic and lengthier but excellent. www.restaurantlesaprien.fr