The pretty village of Saint-Emilion is known around the world for its medieval monuments and cobble-stoned streets – and of course its famous red wines (it is called the ‘hill of a 1000 châteaux’). It receives around 1 million visitors per year.
As in any ‘touristy’ place there are many, many restaurants but it is worth getting off the beaten track to find great chefs, good quality cuisine and value. I dont know about you but I like to have something to eat in my plate, I want it to look good and be good for me too….
I live in the area and here are my favorites for those for who food (and wine) are particularly important (not in any order);
In the medieval village itself, in an ancient chai carved out of the limestone with its arches and its stone walls embedded with history – the Lard et Bouchon. Bernard and his partner have been here for over ten years and that says something. It is a modern brasserie style restaurant serving simple good food set in the authentic heart of St Emilion. The welcome is warm and Bernard is passionate about wines and will eagerly choose you a surprise bottle from his cellar located in the restaurant itself. Menu around 21€
Another restaurant, right in the heart of the village is the stunning Huitrier Pie (Oystercatcher bird). A very young couple (Camille and Soufiane) who are both award winning chefs offer you a very upmarket beautiful food experience with setting, presentation and service to match. But not the price. This is quite exceptional. Lunch Menu around 30€. There is also a terrasse.
If you dont fancy a full meal, I recommend a picnic (you choose what you feel like) at Les Cordeliers with a glass of refreshing sparkling wine set in the old ruined cloisters of the Cordelier church.
It is worth the drive passing through hillsides of undulating vineyards to one of the satellites of St Emilion, Montagne a couple of kilometres away.
Here Jean-François Roberts, a young-ish chef who has trained and worked with some of Paris’ top chefs (Troisgros, Guy Savoy) and is now offering superb beautiful seasonal dishes from local hearty ingredients at La Reserve de Presbytère. Beautiful terrasse here too. Lunch menu around 26€
Another two restaurants worth a lttle longer drive (15 mins from St Emilion) to is the more sophicated Michelin star Auberge de St Jean in St Jean de Blaignac overlooking the Dordogne River and the Caffé Cuisine in Branne – atmospheric authentic young place with a fun relaxed interior full ofbric-and-brac and a terrasse – always packed with local wine people.