WHERE TO EAT

Where Paris - - Interview Weekend Getaway -

Along with its many other charms, Bordeaux has also re­cently emerged as one of the best and most in­no­va­tive restau­rant cities in France. This is be­cause young chefs like Félix Clerc of the ex­cel­lent bistro and bar Sym­biose have been at­tracted to the city by its beauty, qual­ity of life and af­ford­abil­ity com­pared to other ma­jor French cities. “Bordeaux is a won­der­ful city for a chef, be­cause the lo­cal pro­duce is su­perb and the Borde­lais are so­phis­ti­cated and ad­ven­tur­ous at the ta­ble,” says Clerc, who opened this very pop­u­lar ta­ble with three friends in a former shop with ex­posed stone walls on the Quai des Char­tons two years ago. Clerc’s menus evolve con­stantly, but dishes like ce­viche of sea bream mar­i­nated with fer­mented pineap­ple and gar­nished with lo­vage, cel­ery, lemon and pars­ley ice-cream and bar­be­cued oc­to­pus with pick­led Mirabelle plums, nas­tur­tium-leaf emul­sion, green­pea ice cream and but­ter beans show off his in­ven­tive style.

For a sim­i­larly ex­cel­lent meal in a dressier set­ting, chef Rudy Baillin’s restau­rant Côté Rue has an art-gallery-like set­ting with mod­ern paint­ings on the white

walls of the beau­ti­ful land­marked sa­lon of an old town­house with el­e­gant crown mould­ing and oak par­quet floors. Baillin pre­vi­ously cooked with An­neSo­phie Pic in Va­lence, and this back­ground is ap­par­ent in a cook­ing style that is el­e­gant and imag­i­na­tive but tech­ni­cally pre­cise. He changes his menu of­ten but his love of sea­sonal pro­duce comes through in dishes like sautéed foie gras with roasted beet­root, a starter, and seared scal­lops with baby cep mush­rooms.

Garopa­pilles, the most talked about restau­rant in Bordeaux right now, should be booked as far in ad­vance as pos­si­ble. This charm­ing one Miche­lin star ta­ble oc­cu­pies the premises of a former toy store, and in­cludes an ex­cel­lent wine shop just in­side the front door. Chef Tan­guy Laviale stud­ied at the pres­ti­gious Ecole Fer­randi in Paris and then trained at Le­doyen, Lasserre and the Carre des Feuil­lants be­fore mov­ing to Bordeaux. “It’s a great time to be a chef in Bordeaux, be­cause the city’s restau­rant scene is thriv­ing,” says Laviale, who also did a stint as the chef and oe­nol­o­gist at the Château Haut Bailly, a Grand Cru Classé vine­yard in nearby Pes­sac-Léog­nan be­fore open­ing his restau­rant in 2014. “I find the re­la­tion­ship be­tween food and wine fas­ci­nat­ing, and it’s a con­stant source of in­spi­ra­tion to me,” says the chef.

Laviale’s menus change con­stantly, be­cause his cook­ing priv­i­leges the fresh­est sea­sonal pro­duce, but el­e­gant and in­ge­niously com­posed dishes like roast squab with cep mush­rooms and cock­les and choco­late ganache with a peanut bis­cuit, banana cream and banana ice-cream show off the chef’s lyri­cal culi­nary imag­i­na­tion and tech­ni­cal prow­ess in the kitchen.

For lighter eat­ing, a good op­tion is one of the many ex­cel­lent wine bars that have been open­ing in the city re­cently. One of the best is Le Fla­con, which pours a great se­lec­tion of wines by the glass and also serves up an imag­i­na­tive small-plates menu that runs to dishes like Réu­nion-style steamed­pork-and-cit­rus dumplings and minia­ture veal-shank burg­ers.

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