Our second Michelin star dinner of our holidays brought us to the beautiful Hostellerie De Plaisance, perched atop a hill in St Emilion. To say this place was beautiful is an understatement. We had to get three lifts to get to our room as the hotel is built into lots of separate buildings, flat land is a bit of a premium in St Emilion. Our room was possibly the nicest room we’ve ever stayed in.
Onto food then. We were booked in for two evenings eating the €120 chefs selection menu. Essentially, sit still and be fed! Great, I have no problem with that, or at least I didn’t until I’d finished dinner. To kick off with we had a crab consomme, mushroom cornetto with blackcurrant sorbet and a pea moussse. All perfectly acceptable, the receptacle was better than the food though!
Our starter was a pastry basket with a some potato rings, potato foam and chutney of sorts. It was lovely, but considering it was 40°c outside, not quite the food I was hoping for.
A piece of turbot with a rich meaty jus was very tasty. The accompanying onion and savoury pastry roll were just heavy, greasy and not deserving of the plate.
The main course by this stage was beginning to irk me. Honestly the piece of chicken on the right hand side was the size of two thumbs. The thigh in the middle was smaller than one thumb. Both tasted like my sunday roast I have every week, not worthy of being served in a michelin star restaurant. The onion foam was good, but the shredded wheat on top of it was inedible. I was expecting it to dissolve, but it just coagulated and didn’t go away. Anything that does that in my mouth isn’t going to get swallowed. Oh, sorry there was a lovely piece of baby leek on the side too!
Dessert, I hate desserts in posh restaurants. I marvel at the pastry chefs talents, but by the time you get a pre-dessert and have petit fours waiting for you. I just feel dessert is waste of room. I’ve not got a sweet tooth admittedly, but who needs three servings of sugar. Anyhow this again was superbly made, with a lot of talent on show but very little thought and tasting. It was raspberry mousse and tuiles set on some very thin panna cotta with red pepper sorbet. Yes you read that right, a red pepper sorbet. Blimey, as I say no-one obviously tasted this dish as the sorbet tasted of….red pepper and the tuiles were so sharp they cause damage to your teeth/gums/mouth. Can’t remember the last time anyone ever had a bowl of raspberries and red peppers at the same time.
We were so disappointed with dinner. More so because the hotel is such an amazing setting. The staff are incredible, as it’s such a small hotel (25 rooms) everyone doubles up on jobs. You’ll find the Maitre ‘d and sommelier doing mundane jobs around the hotel the next morning. I’m hoping the dinner was served to us more on maximum profit basis, rather than the chefs taste. The following day we requested that we just go a la carte and set the €120 against the cost. No problem, excellent.
On to the second evening, which was well worth it!
Cedric Debache certainly redeemed himself with this artichoke dish. I think one of the best plates of food I’ve ever eaten. There were tempura artichokes which tasted like chips, artichoke crisps, normal boiled artichoke hearts all encircled with summer truffles, mini gnocchi and a wonderful mushroom foam. It was so good, I’d go back to the restaurant just to eat this. Definitely a top 5 best ever dishes.
A great lamb dish of shoulder, loin and rack. Ma femme was very happy.
Another turbot dish, I love the stuff. With a red pepper and a mushroom sauce-they obviously had a surfeit of red peppers! One sauce would have been enough in all honesty. The accompanying stuffed courgette flower was great. As were the courgette ribbons filled with crispy courgettes.
We skipped dessert and went straight for cheese. They then brought around the tea trolley, which was novel to say the least.
The tea trolley herbs were incredible, from pineapple sage to lemongrass thyme. All made incredible infusions, a perfect addition to wash down the petit fours.
We were let down on the first evening, but the second was a meal we’ll not forget in a hurry. If you go anywhere near St Emilion and want a nice treat, this is the place to go!