This was our first trip, and we appreciate all the tips on this Board. I posted a bunch to my Instagram, and I think that’s the simplest way of getting most photos here.
Taxi: Ubers were freely available, although could take 5-10 minutes to arrive. Very convenient.
Top Restaurants: Thomas Restaurant, Le Bouchon des Filles, Le Supreme
Thomas Restaurant was one of our favorite restaurants on our extended trip. The wine list is amazing, the service was great, and the cooking was exceptionally flavored and seasoned. For example, on a tonnata dish which had interesting textures from barley – they adjusted the dish to make it gluten free for me. Rather than just take off the barley, they finely diced some blanched zuchhini or something to ensure that textural component was not lost ont he dish. The kichen is that focused. On the block were three Thomas establishments: Cafe Thomas, Thomas Bouchon and Restaurant Thomas. Cafe Thomas seats were all filled with Bouchon and Restaurant Thomas empty. We debated not sitting at Restaurant Thomas given we were the only ones, but it was the right decision as the menu was superbly more interesting than Cafe Thomas. All restaurants share the same, excellent, wine list. We spluged on an '09 Reynard at the restaurant (a bit cheaper than US retail, but still pricey!)
Le Bouchon des Filles was a buzzy lunch spot. Excellent local cooking. More soul/less contemporary than Thomas Restaurant, but still had some flare. Huge portions. Would come back for lunch, or a traditional dinner. A wine list with something for everyone, but I wouldn’t come here for the wine list.
Le Supreme was in the Micheline guide for dinner. Ultimately, we preferred Thomas Restaurant over Le Supreme, but we enjoyed Le Supreme. Much smaller establishment than Thomas Restaurant, there was only the Chef, his Sous Chef, and 1-2 front-of-the-house staff. I enjoyed a Comte Lafon and Gonon off the list here. 2019 Gonon was 70 euros, and the first Gonon I rather enjoyed and would rebuy. I would buy more for 70 euros, but not the $200 or so offered in the US.
Finding the food in Lyon to be a little bland after a while, we went to to an Eritrian restaurant. This restaurant was also not as spicy as we expected it to be (comping to our NY experiences in Ethiopian restaurants), and so we didn’t get a spice fix here. Nor did the restaurant serve ice. So we consumed warm cokes. I don’t know how common this… but it definitely wasn’t uncommon!
Beaune travel recommendations (restaurants, taxi and Bill Nanson)
We belatedly learned there are no Uber in Beaune. And there is no “real time” taxi service, and if you want to get picked up in say… Vosne… its a village and a taxi will come from Beaune or Dijon (so if you want to get a taxi to Vosne, you will be paying for a taxi to go to Beaune->Vosne->Beaune and Beaune->Vosne->Beaune). So we did a bit scrambling and ended up being late to two tasting appointments (missing the tour on one). We were quoted ~75 euro/hour to hire a taxi for 8 hours, which adds up. Few of the taxi services speak English. It seems as if all the taxi drivers know each other and split the work, traveling from Beaune and back. Last ditch attempt to rent a car showed the manuals available for $65 a day and the automatics available for $1,000/day (we needed automatics, I guess others as well!). We had planned for dinner in Dijon only to realize trains stopped at 7PM and a taxi was 125 euro one way… so we ended our Dijon day early. So that was a very longwinded way of saying: plan ahead. Work with your hotel in advance to secure taxis for all appointments, dinners as needed. Budget for them, a private driver or a car, etc. When scheduled in advance, everything worked really well.
Tour with Bill Nanson
We enjoyed touring with Bill. It is not often one can tour with a wine critic who has known the region for a long time. For our first time in Beaune, touring with Bill let us cover a lot of ground and orientate ourselves so we could better relax on the rest of the trip. The conversation was just full of friendly information on a minute-to-minute basis, and tagging along Bill to a couple tastings was a blast. E.G., we would have never been able to tour at one Domaine without Bill scheduling it. Bill isn’t cheap (you can see pricing on the website), but it isn’t so expensive in context of alternatively hiring just a driver for a day (getting quoted something like 500-600 euro just for a driver for a day). Bill is more than that, but you get a bit more as well.
Top Restaurants: Cave et Cuisine, Caves Madeleine, Maison du Colombiere
Cave et Cuisine is a killer locals spot with excellent food and wine list. This is where I tried my first Coche and Roulot (I didn’t order the older Coche 1ers for $1K although I believe that’s a fraction of market pricing, and a smaller fraction for what it would show up on a NYC wine list!). This is a new restaurant and not yet discovered (no one in Beaune heard of it).
Caves Madeleine was another highlight of our overall trip. This is best restaurant we tried in downtown Beaune. Book in advance as they only have a couple tables and a couple communal tables inside, but a nice garden outside that opens up to more seats if the weather permits. This is a mix of traditional and contemporary cooking. The pistachio ice cream over cherry gelee was delicious. The beet gazpacho with beet/mustard ice cream was wow. The wine list actually has everything in stock, and I enjoyed a 2012 Roblet Monnott Santenots (a new producer for me).
Maison du Colombier was better for a drink than dinner. Comfortable outdoor seating in front of the restaurant with tapas menu + huge/lengthy wine list and a few interesting wines by the the glass (I tried the Amiot Ruchots and found it a bit blocky). They only update the list once a year, so I had to make 10 requests before I landed on my ultimate bottle (2016 Berthaut Gerbet Echezeaux, which was smashingly good for eur$250). I was tempted by the 2012 Jamet Cote Rotie for 120 euro, but when in Beaune, I had to go Burgundy. Dinner is available inside, but I didn’t find the seating in the caves too comfortable for the summer… the menu is well executed by fairly limited… so this is a good place for a drink versus to settle down for the night. Perhaps a drink here and then over to Caves Madelaine or Cave et Cuisine!
- Restaurant Misses: Tables du Square, Le Rouge a Levres, La Dilletant
Tables du Square was recommended to us by a couple folks in Beuane. However, food was more ‘interesting than good’ (attractively plated, but confusing/muddled flavors), wine list is very expensive, and the ambience is basic garden seating. Felt like one to avoid.
Le Rouge a Levres was a nice spot with hip ambience and a garden in the back. We only came for a drink and found a very overpriced wine list, without very interesting wines by the glass. We didn’t try the food. It’s a good, hip spot - but we were looking for a more Burgundian experience.
Le Dilletante we didn’t actually try. Wasn’t conducive to a walk-in, as we didn’t have a prior reservation.