Occupying a beautifully restored, 18th-century, pink sandstone building that was formerly part of a royal stables on the edge of the city centre, this dramatically designed brasserie isn’t only the most fashionable restaurant in Strasbourg, but also one of the city’s best new tables. This latter precision is unfortunately necessary, since fashion and gastronomy aren’t always inevitable dance partners.
Happily, in this instance, the excellence of the modern menu which chef Marc Haeberlin of the famous three-star L’Auberge de l’Ill in nearby Illhauesern created for the brasserie, and its spectacular interiors, designed by Paris-based designers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, endow a meal here with a powerful harmony that’s both visual and gastronomic. A huge, curved modern staircase of oak, glass and steel is the centrepiece of the restaurant, where the open kitchen, lounge bar and a few tables are on the ground floor and the main dining room is upstairs.
The traffic on the staircase animates the restaurant without being a distraction, and the look is simultaneously contemporary and historic, which is never an easy trope to accomplish. Upstairs, you dine with massive old oak beams overhead and the atmosphere is cosier than it is downstairs. However, dining alone on an early autumn night, I thoroughly enjoyed the theatre offered by this restaurant, from my table for two just to the left of the main door, and couldn’t help but being impressed by how good the service was, given the logistics of the space.
The menu changes often, but on that cool night, I wasn’t going to pass up Haeberlin’s celebrated pâté à quatre viandes à l’ancienne, made with four different meats. It came enclosed in a golden wrapper of beautifully made pastry which trapped the dark amber aspic created by cooking juices, was studded with pistachios and had a big lobe of mauve goose liver at its core. As an eager student of pâtés for many years, I have to say that this was one of the best I’ve ever had, for the richness of its flavours and its alluring appearance on the plate.
Next came a pan-sautéed fillet of omble chevalier, a lake fish, on a bed of choucroute that had been laced with horseradish cream. Surprisingly, the acidulous cabbage and gently fiery horseradish in this immensely satisfying preparation flattered the delicate, perfectly cooked fish rather than overwhelming it. I finished up with a superb lemon tart with lime mousse, and I know that if I lived in Strasbourg, I’d go here often, because the cooking is excellent and the menu appeals to so many different appetites – for instance, in addition to the modern Alsatian dishes I ordered, they also offer a lamb burger, and scallops seasoned with lime juice and seaweed.
This is also a notably family friendly restaurant, with a children’s menu at a very reasonable €12. I can’t think of a better place to eat if you’re in Strasbourg for the city’s famous – and thoroughly delightful – Christmas markets, but be sure to book because it’s very popular.
Brasserie Les Haras, 23 rue des Glacières, 67000 Strasbourg, Tel: +33 (0)3-88-24-00-00. Open daily.
Based in Paris, restaurant columnist Alexander Lobrano has published a new book, Hungry for France, along with a new edition of his popular Hungry for Paris. Find these books and more in our bookstore.
From France Today magazine