A Romantic Evening in the City of Bordeaux
While it’s easy to become micro-focused upon one world renown Bordeaux vineyard after another, lining the left and right banks of the Gironde, not to mention the sometimes ignored Entre-Deux-Mers, I would suggest that you also make a visit to the historic city of Bordeaux a must. While traffic in and out can be slow, it’s worth the effort to get in and spend a day or perhaps a couple of half days. Parking is a challenge as spots are at a premium and streets narrow but there is at least one underground garage right in the center that places you in the ideal jump off spot. It’s worth knowing where this is ahead of time to avoid stress and delays.
The city is chock full of quaint cafes and restaurants offering a picturesque view of the Gironde, children dancing in fountains along the main streets and breathtaking visuals of old world buildings lit up at night. For shoppers, there’s Rue St. Catherine and the triangle around it with endless stores including mouth watering cheese and macaroon shops. The macaroon shops and kiosks are filled with dozens of varieties from cassis, pistachio, coffee, lemon, apricot and more. These simply melt in your mouth. We bought one box to last the last half of our trip (ha………gone in a few days) and one at the airport on the way home.
The one evening that we had designated for our romantic dinner, we thought about La Tupina. It has a wonderful reputation. For whatever reason, the menu selection didn’t grab us that night so we searched for an alternative and settled upon L’Estacade, a restaurant that I had scouted out before I left the US. As it turned out, it was the perfect choice.
L’Estacade is perched on large stilts overlooking the water’s edge and offers scenic photo moments of the Gironde and buildings lining the opposing side of the river. While waiting for our table, we struck up a mixed French-English conversation with a family from the city as we assisted one another in photo ops out on the outside deck. After being seated by a window, and ordering some Champagne for a toast, we settled in to peruse the menu. Starters ranged from cuttlefish in parsley and garlic seasoning, red wine and spiced marinated foie gras, oysters and cavier to a chestnuts and ceps Pate in a walnut coulis. We decided to share the ceps pate which was presented beautifully, simply delicious and paired nicely with the Champagne.
The main event teased us with dishes of duck breast, sweetbreads, and beef platter, but it was the fish dishes which caught our eyes (and palates). My wife ordered the chorizo crumbled scallops, almond and pumpkin mash and I, foil wrapped steaming seabass, vegetables and mango, wrapped in a net. Both dishes were mouth watering, incredibly flavorful and tender.
We paired the dishes with the slightly sweet white 2010 Bordeaux Guiraud G de Chateau Guiraud. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the estate also produces one of the finest botrytis induced sweet Sauternes in the world. The “G” was a perfect choice, a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, offering up notes of honeysuckle, lemon, beeswax and a hint of tarragon.
If you thought that was the end of the dinner, think again because dessert was something we couldn’t pass up. My wife, a nutella nut, immediately spotted the chocolate cake with praline filling and nutella ice cream, leaving me no choice but to counter with the three crème brulees of blueberry, coffee and walnut. We shared, leaving both of us winners.
On departure, as the sun was setting (in these parts around 10PM), my wife snapped some memorable photos of the restaurant, the Gironde and the brightly lit buildings across the river.
Just a top ten memorable evening from start to finish.