Don’t let the stark décor and bright lighting get in the way of stopping you enjoying a meal at L’Aspérule in Auxerre, France. Auxerre ended up as one of our destinations in France as we needed to catch a train to Paris on the 1st of May, and our options were very limited. Auxerre has a big enough station for us to have had various travel options and the old city is one of the most amazing places I have visited. As we were staying in a hotel I went onto the Michelin website and found the only Michelin starred restaurant in the area. I made our booking via email, and as we did not know what time we would arrive in Auxerre, I made the booking for 20h00 which is a normal time to dine out in Europe. We arrived half an hour early (walking in the rain meant we did not wander) and that was no problem for the maître d’.
Chef Keigo Kimura hails from Japan and after training in top establishments in France, opened this 20 seater venue. The only option for the evening meal is the dégustation menu, and costs €58 without the wine pairing, and €85 with. As we are not totally familiar with all the wines in the area, we chose the pairing which meant our wine would compliment the meal, and each glass certainly did.
It is customary to drink an aperitif in France before starting your meal, but as we were travelling the next day, we decided to skip this part of the meal. However, the choux pastries with cheese were still served to us, and they were brought to the table in a wooden box by the chef himself. We were also offered bread, which was refilled each time the plate was emptied, as well as complimentary water. I however stuck with the sparkling bottled water. Each hot course was served on a hot plate which is something I make note of when dining out as it makes a huge difference to your food still being warm when you take the last bite.
We started with an amuse bouche of bean sprouts with crispy ham which was delicious and really set us up for the meal to come. The first starter was seared foie gras which was superb and perfectly balanced by the accompanying poached spring onions and beans with basil. The second starter was a cold asparagus dish served with a crisp ‘biscuit’ covered in Parmesan. The Pouilly Fumé (Jonathan Didier Pobet) 2013 was served for both starters and this Sauvignon Blanc wine was ideal as the lime notes cut through the richness of the foie gras as well as bringing out the flavours of the asparagus.
The soup course was nothing special – mushroom soup with blue cheese – but saying that, it was extremely tasty. We then moved onto the fish course – mildly smoked salmon served with a potato emulsion. The salmon was sweetly spiced and perfectly prepared. Salmon is Dave’s favourite and he is highly critical of the cooking, so when it passes his test you know it is excellent. These courses were served with a glass of Saint-Romain, a Burgundy wine from the estate of Germain Père e’ File. This is a Chardonnay with great minerality that worked perfectly with the fish.
The meat was the most succulent lamb I have ever had and it was served with a chablis jus, and accompanied by green vegetables. The glass of Pinot Noir – Fixin Vieilles Vignes 2012 (Domaine Humbert Frères), had a long finish and the black berry palate was delicious. In the French tradition, our main course was followed by a cheese course – a 30 month aged Comté cheese from Marcel Petite.
The wine for the cheese and dessert was a Chablis Premier Cru (Domaine Servin), another Chardonnay full of green apples on the palate. The dessert course was fruit based (pineapple and granadilla) served with a vanilla cream, a lime yoghurt sorbet and a sablé biscuit.
Dave ended his meal with an espresso and we were both served petit fours. Service was impeccable and when the maître d’ realized that we were English speaking he ensured that a waiter who spoke some English attended to us to tell us what each course was. Gratuity is not expected in France and our total meal came to €178.00.
Contact them on +33 3 8633 2432 and booking is advisable.
What I blogged June 17:
- two years ago – Zucchini Sourdough Bread
- three years ago – Something Savoury Challenge
- four years ago – Choux Pastry