Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Le Buerehiesel

Continuing on with our Formule Jeunes adventure, R & I made reservations at the Buerehiesel, a one-starred restaurant smack dab in the middle of Orangerie Park. This restaurant lost its three stars when the father handed it over to the son, but Eric Westermann was awarded his first star in this year's Michelin guide. We didn't know what to expect, and after the Auberge de l'Ill it was hard not to be disappointed. (though to be fair, after the Auberge what wouldn't disappoint?)

Our amuse bouche was a mousse of foie gras. So I'm not a huge fan of foie gras, but this was ok with me since it was more like a delightfully buttery spread. That I can do, especially when I'm hungry!
Next up was the entree, this half-cooked (purposefully), herbed salmon, encircled with arugula and diced tomatoes. The herbs and slow-roasted tomato vinaigrette were fabulous, fabulous enough for me to stomach the cold salmon (again -- just got unlucky with set menu, but hey, I liked the stuff I normally don't so it all worked out).
Our fish course of steamed mullet topped with raw oysters, in a Riesling sauce, arrived next. OK, so the slimy, salty, oysters didn't go over so well. R liked them fine enough though.
Finally we got to the dish I had been waiting for since we received the menu: roasted lamb with rosemary. Only...I like my lamb medium rare! And the waiter had asked, and we had specified this. But by the time we got it, a few pieces were properly cooked but most were brown through and through. This is how I like my lamb. It seem silly for me to be making such a big deal out of this, but is it so wrong to expect things to be properly cooked in a one-star restaurant?
Enough whining, on to dessert. Souffle and grapefruit sorbet. Simple and sweet.
The Mignardaises are almost always my favorite part of the meal -- aren't things always cuter the smaller they are? (does this meet the rules of cuteness?)Here you see the thin cookies on the right, the mini-madeleines and rose marshmallows in the middle, and the sugar, candied orange, and chocolate truffles to the left. I liked the truffles the best, but I also enjoyed the marshmallows.

So. The verdict? Well... When we walked in we immediately knew that things would be different. The decor is very sparse and basic...but not in a stylish faux-zen way. Dinner might not be the best meal to have here either, since you won't be able to appreciate the surrounding gardens. I'm sure during the day the scenery is amazing, as the main dining room is like a conservatory. The staff was kind enough, but the service was badly coordinated. The wine pairings kept arriving halfway through the matching dish; things felt very rushed (I think our meal took 1h30 -- talk about American-paced!!!); the team of waiters and waitresses and hostess and sommelier didn't seem to click. They just weren't on that night.

I can attribute part of my disappointment to the menu -- none of the dishes were my favorite thing to begin with. But even R, the most adventurous and least picky eater I know, wasn't that impressed. And our underwhelming dishes had nothing to do with the service or the mediocre (R's judgment) wines we were served.

68€ for a four-course wine pairing meal didn't make it a total loss, but if I ever go back it would be to try their set weekday lunch instead (3 courses for 35€ -- and they put their entire week's menu online at the beginning of the week in case you want to pick the day/menu you like best).

In fact, I might do just that. I don't feel comfortable completely writing this restaurant off yet because I love the family story behind it, and the magic of the park setting is undeniable. Anyone else want to chime in?

Restaurant Buerehiesel
4, parc de l’Orangerie
tél : (+33) 3 88 45 56 65

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