EAT OUT IN ALSACE
The land of hearty dishes such as baeckeoffe and choucroute also offers refined dining without compromising on flavour, says Peter Stewart
A region known for its hearty cooking can offer refined dining as well.
Set in one of the many traditional Alsatian buildings in the town of Obernai, south-west of Strasbourg, this popular restaurant combines hearty regional cuisine with a warm and inviting decor to attract diners from far and wide.
Owner-chef Thierry Schwartz creates dishes with a slight twist, using the best produce from Alsace and beyond. The chestnut tables, exposed beams and large fireplace make it feel like a home from home; the perfect setting to enjoy a quiet meal with friends and family.
After taking a corner seat midway between the main entrance and the busy kitchen, I decided not to go à la carte but to try my luck with the menu surprise. It turned out that nearly all the diners had made the same decision.
The range of dishes was impressive and all were equally delicious and flavoursome. The first ( pictured) resembled a large poached egg, but had been cleverly filled with vegetables, and topped with grated summer truffles, finely chopped spring onions and a zingy citrus dressing. Next up came a giant soufflé, filled with creamy Munster cheese and coated in a beetroot glaze. The main course consisted of a generous fillet of sole, drizzled with fresh lemon and accompanied by green vegetables, paired unusually with an earthy red bordeaux that complemented the flavours well.
My appetite had already been satisfied, but I still found room for dessert, a tarte crémeuse au chocolat with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream, to round off an exceptional meal.
Open Tues-sat for lunch and dinner. Menus from €75. 35 Rue de Sélestat, 67210 Obernai Tel: (Fr) 3 88 49 90 41 bistro-saveurs.fr
2 Restaurant Philippe Bohrer
For a taste of fine dining set against a backdrop of Alsatian vineyards, look no further than this gourmet restaurant in the small town of Rouffach, which lies on the Route des Vins south of Colmar.
The restaurant is attached to a hotel in a former coaching inn and retains many period features including a sculpted wooden facade. In the kitchens, Philippe Bohrer has an impressive culinary pedigree; he was a pupil of the legendary Lyon-based chef Paul Bocuse, and was a private chef to Presidents Valéry Giscard d’estaing and François Mitterrand.
After booking into the hotel, I came down for dinner, having worked up an appetite during a long day’s cycling. It was a muggy summer’s evening, so I asked for a table on the terrasse, which looks over rows of vineyards belonging to Château d’isenbourg. Against such a background, it seemed only fitting to choose a sparkling Crémant d’alsace as an aperitif while I perused the à la carte menu.
3 La Pommeraie Gastronomique
Just a few minutes’ walk from the historic centre of Sélestat, the ornate Hostellerie de la Pommeraie has a refined restaurant where diners can enjoy a fine meal in peaceful surroundings.
The hotel occupies a manor house that once belonged to a colonel in Napoléon’s army, and includes a spacious dining room decorated in yellow and cream that is elegant without being pretentious.
Alsace-born chef Jérôme Meyer draws on his love of the region’s cuisine and that of the Netherlands, Morocco and Corsica – places that he enjoys visiting – to create dishes bursting with different flavours.
I had dinner here one summer evening, with the soothing sound of a piano being played in the far corner of the dining room. I began with rillettes de poisson topped with sun-blushed tomatoes and a buttery sauce. This was To begin, I chose a salade de légumes de la saison, which was a mixture of thinly sliced vegetables arranged on top of a plump salmon cake. Next, I enjoyed a succulent fillet of sea bass ( pictured), decorated with fennel and bathed in a creamy white wine sauce.
For dessert, I resisted the tempting surprise au chocolat in favour of the déclinaison autour de la mangue et du fruit de la passion, a refreshing antidote to the mid-summer heat.
Open Mon and Wed for dinner; Tues, Thurs-sat for lunch and dinner. Menus from €31. 1 Rue Raymond Poincaré 68250 Rouffach Tel: (Fr) 3 89 49 62 49 alavilledelyon.eu followed by a summer vegetable risotto, a refreshing mix of carrot, aubergine and artichoke, soaked in lemon and topped off with fennel.
I finished with a modern take on a strawberry dessert: a chocolate and vanilla mousse layered with crushed strawberries and a mint sorbet glaze.
Open Mon-sat 7-9pm for dinner. Menus from €49. 8 Boulevard du Maréchal Foch, 67600 Sélestat Tel: (Fr) 3 88 92 07 84 popinns.com/villes-regions-chateaux/ Hostellerie-de-la-pommeraie
Rue du Général de Gaulle, the main street in the wine village of Riquewihr in the Haut-rhin département ABOVE: