Friday, May 03, 2013

Arriving in Colmar and dining at starred restaurant ‘Le Rendez-vous de Chasse’

I arrived in Colmar just before 19:00, checked into my hotel, left the bags in the room, re-parked the car outside on the street (luckily, as it is a weekend, parking is free) and left for the old town centre which is right behind the hotel. My hotel is inside the old town perimeter which is a conscious choice I made.

A quick stroll when there is still daylight is always a good idea to get my bearings around town in order.

Getting my bearings around Colmar


Just like in Heidelberg, it was drizzling in Colmar and the shops were already closed for the day. My camera was also acting up and no matter how many times I wipe the lens, the mist on it just stays. So I stopped taking pictures.

Around 20:00 I decided to walk to the restaurant of my choice for the evening which is located in the Best Western Hotel building in front of the Colmar train station. Reviews about this 1-Michelin star restaurant was good. I really wanted to treat myself to a nice gourmet dinner after the long drive. The weather hasn’t been that great as well, so I was looking forward to this dinner for the ultimate compensation.

Dinner at Le Rendez-vous de Chasse Restaurant
Website: Le Rendez-vous de Chasse Restaurant - Colmar, France

I started with a shot of whisky at the lobby of the restaurant and some mignardises from the chef to go with it. Loved the sugar glazed cherry tomatoes. The flavours of sweet, sour and a trace of spice explodes in my mouth. I wondered if I could make something like this at home...

WHISKEY + MIGNARDISES


The head sommelier and director of dining, Jean-Marie (found out his name only after I googled the restaurant) who looks like Robert de Niro was a charming gentleman who was very friendly to me. He said that he prepared a nice table for me, in a location that I can see everyone. He was right, I have the best angle to people watch while I dine, haha. Well, what to do? I am alone! He does seem to read my mind, hmmm.

The chef of this 1-Michelin star restaurant is Julien Binz and I picked the seasonal seafood menu, a much lighter option and I ordered a glass of Riesling from the region, a Grand Cru Moenchberg.


AMUSE-BOUCHES + RIESLING

Ah, the amuse-bouches have arrived. I will try to remember what they are, so from left to right: cream mousse with chives, shrimp soup with airy foam (this was heavenly) and gazpacho. And a riesling to go with everything.


THE FIRST COURSE

The first course was cannoli style crab meat and radish shavings. A very spring plate! The balsamico sauce matched well with the crab and the flower petals look like butterflies.


THE SECOND 'MAIN' COURSE + PINOT NOIR

The main course was sea bass with fennel strips on top under a bed of sautéed onions and a sea of scrumptious cream balsamic (with a hint of alcohol) sauce.


Jean-Marie asked me if I want to continue with Riesling as it is a good pair for the sea bass. I told him that I’d like to break the rule and would love to have some red wine instead please. I don’t think he agreed with me, but well, I am the customer, haha.

So he suggested the Steinbach Pinot Noir Rouge, another wine from the Alsace region.


DESSERT + GEWURTZRAMINER

The chef sent a pre-dessert to the table, panna cotta topped with a fusion of wild berries concoction. This was very, very nice and refreshing.

For the real dessert, I had this lovely presentation of a brioche sitting on a jelly and topped with strawberry compote, pistachio ice cream and a bite of dark chocolate. And some mignardises on the side as well. Sadly, I could not finish it. Too much sweets for me for the evening!


Jean-Marie (see picture below, he does look like Robert de Niro right?) came back and suggested the Emile Beyer gewürztraminer to go with my dessert plate. I politely declined but he insisted that I should try it, saying that I would love it and that he will only give me a little to taste. Alright, I’m convinced! And oh boy, this was the best suggestion he ever made for the evening. I am in love with gewürztraminer!

Gewurztraminers are great pairings for Asian cuisine, and they are nice alternatives for aperitifs or digestifs as well. It is light, a little bit sweet and with spicy flavour.


Cheese after the meal would have been lovely but I was too full to even consider it.


I begged off for coffee. I was afraid that when I order coffee, a large plate of mignardises would follow, which is always the case. I’ll have tea at the hotel, that’s much better.

The dinner was wonderful but what I missed from this starred dinner is the unique culinary art presentation and the play of flavours. Do not get me wrong, the food was delicious, I guess I was just expecting for more.

As for the service? One word: Superb. I felt like the dining crew were in this smoothly orchestrated dance; they knew when to come to your table, put more bread, change your wine, take your plate and put new silverware, without much effort. The ambiance as well was elegant and very relaxed. I highly recommend this restaurant.

Glad I had to do the 5-minute walk to my hotel (the restaurant is located just outside the old town perimeter). The belly needs it =)

Travel Period: April 2013
Destination: Colmar (Haut-Rhin – Alsace), France

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