While in Beaune – the beating heart of the Burgundy wine region – for an editorial soirée I had dinner at Loiseau de Vignes Michelin-starred restaurant in the historic center of town.
The first impression was twofold. First I noticed the serene proportions of the oak and stone interior giving onto a charming private courtyard. At the same time, the whiff of the impressive army of aged cheeses flanking the entrance hit my nostrils with physical force. More on that later.
The main feature of the dining room is the high-tech wine chamber. Imagine sitting down to a meal where the hosts had opened 70 different very fine vintages for you, so you could take your pick without worrying about committing to one choice. Wouldn’t that be something? That’s pretty much how it is here because this was the first restaurant in all of Europe to offer an entire award-winning wine list by the glass. This is made possible by a cutting-edge automated chamber that extracts the air and creates a vacuum in each open bottle, preventing oxidation, which allows eve rare wines to be served by the glass, in the best conditions and at the appropriate temperature, preserving all their qualities.
And now for the meal itself, from the etoilée kitchen of Chef Mourad Haddouche. We were greeted with a flute of crémant de Bourgogne with a hint of pear and bay leaf liqueur accompanied by a verrine of cream of chickpea and a cheese gougère, a savory cousin of the profiterole.
The first course was an egg parfait (I understand this means it’s cooked for a long time at 64 degrees) on a bed of orzo risotto with a pea and tarragon coulis, sprinkled with a confetti of aged Morvan ham.
For a bit of molecular gastronomy the main was a beef duo of shoulder slow-cooked for 24 hours on low temperature and a ficelle filet (like a luxury version of the texture of the traditional Cuban ropa vieja if you’ve ever had the good fortune to taste the real thing), surrounded by pretty baby vegetables and edible flowers.
Along came the triumphant aged cheese chariot, heaving under the weight of the enormous selection. When I asked for a local cheese there were so many that I lost count and went for a Plaisir au Chablis for my soft cheese, Pouligny Saint Pierre pyramide for the goat’s milk and a Tomme du Jura for the firm one.
The sweet finale was a marriage of a crêpe with a soufflé with rhubarb and groseilles and a side of sloe and elderberry granité.
For the wines, we let the sommelier do the choosing and all I can say is that I couldn’t have been happier – I’m still smiling as I write this. It’s one of my favourite things about dining in France, the ultimate indulgence, to have a trained professional take the wheel, letting them do what they do so well without any backseat interference.
Just as important to me where the things that didn’t call my attention. No smell (no intrusive fabric conditioner or flower arrangement, all you capture is the aroma of the food). No noise (no elevator music, no rattling of crockery, the tables are sufficiently spaced to carry out your conversation in private). No interruptions, the front of house was courteous, informative, and appeared and disappeared in a discreet choreography under the watchful eye of front of house captain Christophe Gines.
Loiseau des Vignes is located in the historic centre of Beaune, about 250 meters from the Hospices, just next to the hotel Le Cep.
LOISEAU DES VIGNES
31 rue Maufoux, BEAUNE
Tel : +33 (0)380241206