When I first got to Beaune, I thought I was going to be disappointed. At a glance, it seemed like there were rows and rows of touristy restaurants, all with similar price points and all with the same thing on the menu: escargots à la Bourguignonne, boeuf Bourguignon, eggs poached in white wine, cheese platter, duck a l’orange, etc. It was all the same, and the first place we tried wasn’t impressive. Ahnya had to concentrate to chew on her steak, which was like jerky.
I can’t afford to do Michelin-star restaurants all the time, and I should have done a little better research before landing — I think I thought I’d have more time. We found some nice reviews in Tripadvisor, though, and recommendations from friends as they watched our instagrams. I’m not going to post every restaurant we tried in Beaune, but here are the highlights that I’d recommend. Today’s picks are good for different reasons; tomorrow’s picks will be our absolute favorites.
Escargot is everywhere, so of course feeding Ahnya a platter a day was in order. We liked the escargots at Brasserie Le Carnot, which is easy to find, just up the street from the city center. The prices are pretty reasonable; these are about $12-20 for an entree and of course, they have set menus available for a better deal. This wasn’t a phenomenal dinner, but it was probably one of the better ones we had for the price point, in this style of restaurant.
I liked the duck at Brasserie Le Carnot; it was tasty and tender, and the sides were nicely done. Ahnya had the beef tartare but I’m not including that here because it wasn’t so good. There’s better tartare in my blog tomorrow!
My favorite dessert is the Ile flottante (floating island), and Brasserie Le Carnot was one of the few restaurants that served it. This is a mound of poached meringue floating on creme anglaise, then topped with thin caramel and sliced almonds. I’ve made it at home, myself, and believe me … you want a professional to make this! It’s a simple, light dessert, but a pain in the ass to make.
Brasserie Le Carnot
18 Rue Carnot, 21200 Beaune, France
+33 3 80 22 32 93
I found out about Abbaye de Maizières from a Portland winemaker, who liked it so much he went twice in one trip. It’s pretty unique, as it’s located in the basement of an abbey and has been functionally updated through the centuries.
How many chances will you get to dine in the basement of a former abbey? I’m sure the place is haunted. I love it!
To start, they give you a plate of snacks, featuring ingredients from the area (like mustard seeds and beef).
The amuse bouche: a butternut squash bisque that was, in true European fashion, flavorful without being overpowering.
Ahnya’s first dish in her fixed menu: crab ravioli, fresh goat cheese, vegetable broth and lemongrass. The lemongrass really gave this dish a punch of Asian flavor! Other than the strong lemongrass, the dish was quite light and springy.
To be honest, I didn’t really get much haddock in this dish, but I ordered it because I love eating asparagus in the spring while in Europe. The tender stalks were topped with hollandaise and a bit of the lemongrass-infused vegetables (must be the chef’s ingredient of the moment) that Ahnya had, and the dollops of goat cheese pulled it all together.
This piece of John Dory fish was just right, accompanied by seasonal vegetables — including Mangetout peas. At this point I kind of wondered if the chef had added some Asian touches to the menu (like the sesame oil in this) to accommodate Chinese visitors. We looked up, and there were some Shanghainese people in the lobby!
Ahnya had the Charolais beef sirloin with pureed celery root and baby vegetables. This was nice! But overall, the experience of the abbey was probably more amazing than the entrees. And I only say that because there were higher expectations of this place and other places (see tomorrow) were so outstanding. The service was outstanding, though.
At the end of dinner, our waiter rolled out a cheese cart featuring many regional favorites, but more importantly, some locally-produced cheeses. We opted for the local cheeses, of course, and they were all very nice. We always like to see what local farmers are making!
The intermezzo was a small scoop of passion fruit gelato with chocolate crumbs. This could have been dessert!
One of the fixed menu desserts was red fruits, cream and lemon. This is actually a perfect way to end, with the lightness of the fruit with the sweet-tart cream.
The other fixed menu dessert was a chocolate tartlet with some verbena foam and — my favorite — almond milk ice. It tasted like almond float! The creamier items helped to lighten the chocolate a bit.
We each had the fixed menu of two plates, plus cheese and dessert, for $45. Overall, I would say that was a pretty good value. This wasn’t our favorite spot, but I would still recommend it.
Abbaye de Maizières
19 Rue Maizières, 21200 Beaune, France
+33 3 80 24 74 64
I have mixed feelings about recommending Caveau des Arches. It comes on high recommendations from travelers, and Ahnya liked it better than Abbaye de Maizieres. The place was constantly busy (or sold out) every time we tried to get in, and we finally got a table at 9 p.m. on our last night in Beaune. But as you’ve seen at other restaurants that get that crazy, it sometimes results in lagging service and half-ass food — although we could tell the staff was scrambling to try their best.
Ahnya started with escargot (of course!) and eufs meurette a la Bourguignonne with pain de campagne grille — what I would describe as a mini French loco moco. I’ll admit, these were really tasty. Even as I recall the meal now, I regret not stealing more bites of that loco moco.
I had a foie gras cake floating in a seafood bisque. This was unique and delicious, and actually not as rich as it sounds. I got the richness of flavor, but baking the foie into cake made it lighter.
I liked the sauce on Ahnya’s boeuf Bourguignon; she liked the dish overall.
I couldn’t leave Beaune without having scallops! Did you know that in France, “Saint Jacques” is synonymous with scallops, from the famous area for them? Anyway, the scallops were great. The risotto, however, was watery and hard, so I know they rushed it.
The restaurant does have a nice wine list and a lounge area upstairs. So if you’re looking to cruise with some wine, maybe you can just hang out upstairs.
Caveau des Arches (right across the Ibis Styles hotel)
10 Boulevard de Perpreuil, 21200 Beaune, France
+33 3 80 22 10 37
These were just the highlights. To see more photos from this trip, click here.
Up next: Our very favorite places to eat in Beaune!