Bordeaux, and the surrounding region, may be known for its wine, but it’s increasingly becoming a foodie capital. That’s in no small part due to the number of chefs opening restaurants in the historic city. Joel Robuchon — the “Chef of the Century” according to the guide Gault Millau — is a big part of that with the opening of his La Grand Maison restaurant in 2015 in partnership with Bernard Magrez.
Open for just over a year, La Grand Maison has already garnered 2 Michelin stars (earning the chef a total of 28 stars worldwide) and a Relais & Chateaux designation. So to say I was excited to dine here would be a bit of an understatement! It was the ‘farewell’ dinner of my tour before heading down to meetings with our travel partners, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.
Located on the left bank of Bordeaux, the restaurant is situated in an area of the city that’s been cleaned up and transformed in recent years. Even walking up to the restaurant (and hotel) is a bit breathtaking. And then you step inside… it’s clear absolutely every detail has been taken care of and attended to, from the contemporary art — thanks to Magrez’s vast collection — to the Baccarat crystal chandeliers (which is signified by just one red crystal pendant). Even our menus were rolled up like scrolls and tied with a purple ribbon.
As we were traveling in a small group, we had the honor of even having our own private room… which is the only reason I even felt semi-comfortable taking photos of what I was eating! As for the food… Does it even need an explanation? Nevermind the fact that I couldn’t do this modern yet still somewhat traditional meal justice with words, or even photos, alone. (Click on the photos for larger versions). Every course was better than the last. Every bite a burst of flavors and variety of textures.
We started the meal with a quick amuse bouche, which had a bit of sesame flavor and just a subtle flavor. And then it was on to the four-course meal, beginning with l’oeuf de Poule, an egg made with crab and caviar, at once creamy and rich. Next up, le petit pois, a surprisingly light pea soup with a just a touch of foie gras; I’ve never had a soup that was so… dare I say, silky?
The main course was a popular fish in the region, black cod, but unlike any other fish dish I’d tried while visiting the southwest of France. (And I ate a lot of seafood!) It was just slightly caramelized, and flavored with a bit of pack choy (similar to bok choy) as well as black pepper, giving it both a sweet and savory melt in your mouth taste.
Last but certainly not least came dessert, a chocolate tendance that was a creamy cocoa sorbet mixed with – shockingly – an Oreo cookie. Let’s just say it’s the best Oreo I’ve ever eaten. (And yes that top piece of chocolate is entirely edible). Just in case we weren’t full enough, they also offered us an assortment of wonderful pastries, as Joel Robuchon is also planning on opening a pastry shop in Bordeaux too.
Hungry to go to Bordeaux on a wine and culinary vacation? Now I’m already dreaming of going back! Just know that every day the menu is different, and all dishes are very dependent on the season, as so many restaurants in France are. But there is only one La Grand Maison and it is more than worth the trip.
By Liz Hall
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