This post was written by Deborah Grossman from the San Francisco Bay Area.
In the villages of Burgundy dining is as much an art form as winemaking. From the Grand Cru vineyards of Nuit-St-Georges in the north of the Côte d’Or to Chassagne-Montrachet, Levernois, and the small hamlet of Santenay in the south, dining opportunities abound.
Expect these restaurants to serve exceptional local wines. The name Côte d’Or harkens to the area’s “slopes of gold” as the Burgundian vines turn color after harvest. The A6 road from Paris to Lyon passes through Burgundy. Known as Autoroute du Soleil or Motorway of the Sun, the A6 is the main route to the south of France. Whether you target Burgundy for your stay or stop along the way, these four restaurants offer memorable cuisine.
A shining Michelin-starred restaurant in the famed wine village of Chassagne-Montrachet famed for its wine, EdEm is owned and operated by a talented couple, Edouard Mignot and his wife Emillie. Mignot received his Michelin star only a year after opening in 2013. The chef characterizes his food as modern with gastronomic touches. On the second floor, the elegant main dining room is bright and spacious with greenery arrangements and a rum cart, highlighting one of Mignot’s passions.
The creative amuse bouche set the tone for the tasting menu. A parsley-butter cookie in the shape of a leaf and a parmesan olive tuile cookie were artful and packed with flavor. Delicate quail eggs topped with buckwheat accompanied the oyster starter. Marinated trout in mustard cream perched on lettuce for the next course. The Chassagne-Montrachet village wine from Gilles Bouton et Fils “Les Voillenots Dessous” paired well with venison in a cocoa crust, Brussels sprouts and confit shoulder in celeriac foam.
The fanciful presentation called Caraïbes chocolate with ice cream and crunchy sesame was the most unusual dessert option (pictured at top of page). Shaped like a stylish shoe, the Valrhona Caraïbes 66 percent baking bar brought authentic chocolate flavors without an abundance of sweetness. Other tempting options included caramelized apples and passion fruit millefeuille Napoleon with tarragon sorbet.
Le Bistro du Bord de l’Eau
For scenic waterfront dining in Levernois near Beaune, consider Le Bistro du Bord de l’Eau. The restaurant is located on a small river at Hostellerie de Levernois, an 11-acre Relais & Château resort. The owners showcase historic parts of the building including the dining room’s exposed beams and traditional Burgundian stonework. The focal point of the bistro is the large fireplace. The wood-burning fire portends the warm welcome from the sommelier who delivers the menu on a chalkboard. The bistro has earned a Michelin assiette rating for “plates of good cooking” and wine service.
The Burgundy escargots in a sweet garlic broth brought a burst of crunchy flavor contrasted with the lightly creamed sauce. After tasting richer versions of escargots in Burgundy, I appreciated the precise preparation and freshness of each ingredient. The smoked salmon cannelloni with fresh chèvre and vegetable dice was beautifully displayed on the plate and seasoned with a classic vinaigrette. A fragrant lemon sauce and garden herbs enhanced the deep flavors of the roasted hake with scallop risotto. Meat options such as duck breast and lamb were presented and sauced with care. The wine pairings ranged from affordable treasures such as the Maconnais village wine Viré-Clessé from Albert Bichot to Chablis Grand Cur “Les Clos” from Domaine Vincent Dauvissat.
Behind the bistro is the Hostellerie de Levernois’ eponymous one-star Michelin gastronomic restaurant. In the modern dining room facing the garden, you may find a more elaborate presentation of escargots with frog’s legs accompanied by a “green” vegetable risotto. Local, prized Charolais beef is presented with preserved shallot, blackcurrant and bone marrow in a Burgundy sauce. The restaurant is known for its soufflés and high-end wine list.
La Cabotte is a culinary treasure nook on the Grand Rue, the main street in the wine village of Nuits-Saint-Georges. The name harkens to the Burgundy vineyards where la cabotte is a small hut where the workers can retreat. We sat in the cozy upstairs dining room to savor the regional cuisine which has earned a Bib Gourmand rating from the Michelin for good quality and value food.
The amuse bouche of gougères, the classic Burgundian cheese puff, was accompanied by thin crackers for dipping into a savory spread with diced pork rillette. Without asking about local protocol, I knifed the spread on the gougères. La Cabotte’s version of Burgundian specialty jambon persillé, a gelée of boiled ham pieces, parsley and garlic, was accompanied by a classic salad dressed in vinaigrette which offset the rich pork and garlic punch.
The wines presented spanned many appellations with several outstanding regional and village wines of high quality at reasonable prices. The Domaine Guy and Yvan Dufouleur La Réserve de Cyprien from Hautes Côtes de Nuits paired well with the hearty boeuf Bourguignon accompanied by classic mashed potatoes. The dessert of the day was an almond tart with figs and vanilla ice cream.
Located in the heart of the village of Santenay, Le Terroir is a gem among Burgundian restaurants. The owners manifest passion for the ambiance, cuisine and wine. Chef-owner Fabrice Germain hails from Burgundy and his wife, Corinne, is Alsatian and oversees the front of the house. For those on canal tours of Burgundy, Santenay is a key stop along the way at the southern tip of the Côte d’Or. The popular Burgundy bike trail also leads to the village.
The sea green and purple palate of the dining room is reflected on the walls, the comfortable seats, and the tableware. Using fresh, local ingredients with a light-handed approach, Chef Fabrice’s expertise is honored in the Michelin assiette rating for good cooking. Meanwhile Corinne possesses insider knowledge of Burgundy’s finest vintners and hand selects the wines for each table.
With boeuf Bourguignon so prominent on local menus, I was pleased to spy coq au vin at Le Terroir. The slow cooked chicken accompanied by a medley of vegetables and house-made pasta was fork tender. To pair with the poultry, Corinne selected a hidden gem wine with a village appellation from local vintner, Domaine Bachey-Legros, Santenay Clos des Hâtes Vielles Vignes. Corinne recommended the fish, and my friend’s sea bream with candied tomato exemplified Fabrice’s deft culinary touch. The soft made ice cream with marc de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s grappa-like spirit, were a delicious finale to the meal.
Deborah Grossman is a freelance food, drink and travel writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find samples of her travels at deborahgrossman.com.