In the course of several days spent up in the vineyards of Alsace recently, initiating various newfound American friends into the delights of Alsace wines, I discovered (or in some cases re-discovered) a few restaurants that are well worth exploring. They’ll go onto my Eating Out Alsace page in due course, but meanwhile here’s the skinny on these fresh finds. [For updates on some of the wineries visited, have a look here too.]
The first was Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Westhalten, at the southern end of the Route des Vins – perfectly placed for combining with visits to top wineries like Dirler-Cadé, Zusslin, Paul Kubler, Agathe Bursin, Rieflé-Landmann et al. The Cheval Blanc is not new news, in fact it’s one of those places that the French describe as une valeur sûre, a safe bet. I hadn’t been in ages and loved it. No stars these days, but they do have a Michelin red bib, which is often an even better bet, with its promise of good food at reasonable prices. Best of all, they serve some glorious wines by the glass (Clos Ste Hune, anyone??), the perfect option especially at lunch, or simply if everyone at the table has ordered something different. See my review here.
It’s always a good sign when a place comes warmly recommended by some of Alsace’s top wine growers. This was the case for Quai 21 in Colmar, a hot tip from Sophie Barmès of Barmès-Buecher, Valérie Beyer of Emile Beyer and Marie-Thérèse Barthelmé of Albert Mann. The chef, Frédéric Tagliani, has an impressive track record, having worked with Jean-Yves Schillinger (JYS), Olivier Nasti (Chambard) and Marc Haeberlin (Auberge de l’Ill), and set up shop here in 2016 in this gorgeous little gingerbread house right across from the covered market (worth looking in on while you’re there). Super-value lunch menu at €19 for 2 courses, €23 for 3), good wines by the glass and a decent list featuring all the usual suspects.
Another find was L’Alchemille on the main street on the outer edge of Kaysersberg, which you can tack onto a visit to the beautiful Domaine Weinbach, and/or the brand-new, cutting-edge Martin Schaetzel by Kirrenbourg. The chef, Jérome Jaeglé (who’s done time in all the same kitchens as Tagliani, above, as well as competing in the Bocuse d’Or competitions) has made a name for himself – and gained a star this year – with his light, fresh cooking that leans heavily on seasonal vegetables – not vegetarian, just delicious, creative food for people who love their greens (and reds, and yellows, and oranges), and much else besides. Here’s another place with the kind of prices at lunch (€24 and €32 for 2 or 3 courses, weekdays) that would make your bank manageress smile. It’s on the main road heading up towards the Vosges, right next to a luridly-coloured pizzeria, and has a vaguely Scandinavian feel (long, low building with white weatherboard cladding outside and light, bright interior with scrubbed wooden tables).
My last [re]-discovery was the Auberge Frankenbourg up in the Vosges towards St-Dié, which I wrote about on my Alsace Wine Travel pages here. I hadn’t been since 2006 so the gorgeous new dining room, a cross between a chapel, a barn and a mountain chalet, was a revelation. They’ve had a Michelin star for over 10 years now so are fully into their stride. Try and book dinner on a Tuesday night (they have beds too, and a very superior breakfast) – the chef calls it his mardis de la créativité – and prepare to be experimented upon. Read my review here.
I also revisited two places that I love and which are already up on Where to Eat in Alsace: L’Atelier du Peintre, who have a stunning new dining room and still manage to offer a good-value lunch menu in spite of considerable stardom (and some eye-watering investment); and d’Brendelstub, Jean-Luc Brendel’s great little neo-bistro on Riquewihr’s main street just about opposite Hugel, always a fun option with updated, upmarket Alsatian favourites like tarte flambée and duck with choucroute.
Have fun, bon app!