Our Mephisto shoes were not back from being repaired, but this gave us a good excuse to shoot into Bordeaux (a 14 minute train ride from Cestas), and dine at Le Chapon Fin, (05 56 79 10 10) at 5 rue Montesquieu, near the round covered market, les Grands Hommes.  It has one Michelin star. 2008: chef Nicolas Frion.

This is Bordeaux’s oldest restaurant, having been established in 1825.  On the Belle Epoque capitals overlooking the skylit dining room, are engraved the names of famous patrons:  Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse, Edward II, Curnowsky, the gourmet, and others.  Owned for 15 years by the Garcias, this September it was sold to Chateau Cordeillan-Bages.  The backdrop as you walk in consists of a screen of real rock formations, placed there at the beginning of the 20th century.  The rocks had been used as ballast for the ships returning to the port of Bordeaux .  The grey carpet, white tablecloths and burnt orange velvet chairs offer a stark, modern contrast to the architectural details of the structure.

We had 3 course menus for 160F ($22).  Since we had enjoyed the Graves red wines so much, we ordered a 1996 Chantegrive.  The tiny dish that arrived first was a rabbit terrine, topped by a basil garlic cream that rated as one of the most intense flavors we had ever experienced in France !  For the first course, we each chose different starters:  either a salad with packets of smoked salmon wrapped around eggplant caviar, or puff pastries containing bleu cheese and fish.  One main dish, osso bucco with vegetables, was tender and flavorful, with the bone served vertically beside the meat, permitting enjoyment of the marrow.  The mackerel with Indian spices and vegetables tasted much better than it sounds!  For dessert, banana tarte, a tiny scoop of coconut ice cream, or a vanilla cream dish were offered. 

Even with the change in owner, we were very impressed with the personal service, knowledge and kindness of the owner, chef Thierry Marx, waiter and female wine steward, all of whom came to greet us.  And the food still rates an “A”.

Claudia & Steve

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