Epinal imagery depicts friendly winstubs on the banks of the Ill where you can of course dig into a smoking hot choucroute... But the Alsatian capital also boasts a wealth of far more unusual addresses to be discovered outside the tourist centre!
La Vignette: an authentic venue serving popular cuisine
Not rich enough to afford a gastronomic restaurant? Yet you feel that quality food and wines, and a warm welcome, are an absolute priority? Then head for La Vignette without any hesitation! Established in 2003 in the former market-garden district of La Robertsau, a stone's throw from the European institutions, this charming country-style eatery has become the confidential address of real gourmets in Strasbourg, such as Antoine Westermann (chef of Buerehiesel, three Michelin stars) who comes here for lunch every week … The former chef of Chez Julien (1 Michelin star), in Strasbourg, Serge Krapp has given his restaurant a soul and a welcoming spirit recalling the personality of its masters: Alain Chapel and Eckart Witzigmann (the well known chef from Munich). Convinced that 'cuisine is far more than just recipes', Serge prepares tasty and appealing family cuisine based on exceptional regional produce. His creamed hen soup, rib steak encased in a breadcrust with stir-fried cepes and meat juices and stir-fried figs with vanilla icecream will soon get you feeling cheerful! With a menu at under 30 euros, how can you not be tempted by the vine growers wines selected by Serge and priced very reasonably? As for the Alsatian wines, enjoy Josmeyer's and Kreydennweiss's organic Rieslings. Wines from the Rhône valley also appear prominently on the wine list, like the Cornas by Thierry Allemand, the Hermitage by Chave and the Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape ...
Serge & Co: a touch of madness in Strasbourg !
On the Alsatian culinary scene Serge Burckel is what is known as a phenomenon... Trained twenty years ago by prestigious chefs like Jacques Lameloise at Chagny, Jacques Maximin in Nice and Alain Senderens in Paris, this mischievous Alsatian, always on the lookout for new sensations, left to try his luck for ten years all over the world and especially in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. In 2002, Serge set his suitcases down in Schiltigheim near Strasbourg. After being fooled by an associate who made him think he would make a fortune in Moscow, he resigned himself to opening a modest restaurant in this downbeat suburb. In 2005, his creativity was rewarded by a first Michelin star. Serge suddenly became more respectable, but the fashionable clientele from Strasbourg was still reluctant to leave their smart districts. Before he finally gets round to moving to the banks of the Ill where his prices will necessarily be higher, we therefore recommend that you discover his cuisine that is one of the most expressive, inventive and fanciful that exists!
Drawing inspiration from everything that is moving to him (a spice, a song, scenery), Serge sees cuisine as a playful and poetic exercise. As a starter, his lobster spaghetti flavoured with cepes (a recipe which he owes to Ferran Adrià) are typical of his style. His Norway lobsters tartare in ravioles, accompanied with a citrus fruits aspic and a slightly spiced pineapple vinaigrette is admirably fresh. Serge is even so audacious as to add tobiko, flying fish caviar...
With his dried Saint Jacques scallops served on mashed lentils and an aspic of passion fruit with pink pepper and powered foie gras, Serge Burckel likes to explore flavours unknown in our latitudes like the 'taste of rubber which does not exist in France but is highly appreciated in China.'
A practical joker, this huge man likes to amuse Alsatians by reinventing the traditional recipe for bibeleskaas.This soft white cheese with garlic and parsley, generally served as a starter, takes the form here of a small kouglof tin specially produced to precise instructions... Look closely at the surface of the cheese and you'll see Rabelaisian motifs which a sense of decency prevents us from mentioning...
As for the dessert dubbed 'Cuba', it's a real Marx Brothers sketch! A baby's bib is tied around your neck and you are served an enormous chocolate cigar packed with vanilla cream while a raspberry puree on a Havana ashtray completes this dessert. You take a bite on the smoking hot cigar and the crunchy coating explodes in your face!
So, you see, everything is a little mad at Serge & Co, and clients are not lacking! First menu at 48 euros.
Emile and Monique Jung or Alsace as you like it
In Strasbourg, Alsatian sensitivity is expressed admirably in the way they welcome you and set a beautiful table. In this respect, it's impossible not to pay homage to Emile Jung and his wife Monique whose legendary restaurant, located very close to the cathedral, is the very symbol of Alsatian hospitality! Established in 1971, Le Crocodile (2 Michelin stars) is to Strasbourg what L’Ambroisie is to Paris or Troisgros to Roanne: the temple of traditional French cuisine, refined and easily digestible. Emile Jung masters the art of clear cut tastes, with just the right acidity and freshness, as in his famous pike-perch and carp soft roe with parsley and smoked butter which exalts the most nervous Alsatian Rieslings. Even his most 'countrified' dishes, like his famous free-range guinea-fowl with duck liver in a potato casing, are as light as a sunrise over Mount Hohneck! The wine list can be read like a book and reminds you that Emile Jung is also a very great taster. Lunch menu for 57 euros, dinner for 86 euros.
Au Pain de mon grand-père
Created in 2002 by Patrick Dinel, former financial director of LVMH, this extraordinary bakery reveals, in many respects, the underlying currents pervading our society. Tired of crisscrossing the planet (200 trips per year) and signing cheques with six zeros, one fine day Patrick Dinel became passionate about bread! Au pain de mon grand-père is something of an ecomuseum with its brick woodburning oven, its 60 varieties of bread all made using organic flours without additives and its welcoming shop assistants. Bruno Dinel, his son, left the world of wine to learn the art of using leaven, kneading and baking. This enthusiastic 20 year-old is already thinking of taking the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (best craftsmen of France) competitive examination. You really should try this bread. The rye bread is one of the most exceptional we have ever tried, with its appealing brown and black crust and a spongy interior with powerful aromas of honey and hay. The spealt bread is sublime, with its multicoloured crust and well honeycombed pearly interior that is dense, compact and slightly tart (because of the leaven). Proof of their great quality, these breads stay fresh for at least several days. An essential address!
André Ostertag at Epfig: one of the moral mainstays of the Alsatian vineyard
Unknown to tourists and generally kept off the Route des Vins (wines road), the village of Epfig is located a mere 30 minutes from Strasbourg on the Obernai road. Here you can meet a vine grower who is also an absolutely extraordinary man: André Ostertag. By his physique and speech, this lively chap, an occasional poet, can be likened to a Middle Ages mystic. Born to an old Rhenish family whose name means 'Easter day', André has risen in stature over a 20 year period as one of the greatest Alsatian vine growers alongside Jean-Michel Deiss, Mark Kreydenweiss, Olivier Humbrecht and a few others. Still today, Epfig is not considered as belonging to the 'gotha' of Alsatian soils and the very personal style that André Ostertag gives his wines maintains this village somewhat apart from the well-known 'baronies' of Riquewihr, Kaysersberg and Eguisheim… Yet Andre's wines are exported worldwide and appear on the wine lists of the greatest restaurants. Whatever the vine variety, soil and vintage, André sculpts his wines and stamps them with his hallmark: integrity, elegance, purity and vivacity. His Vieilles Vignes de Sylvaner, at 10 euros a bottle, are pure nectar. His Rieslings produced from the grand cru Muenchberg, planted originally by Cistercian monks in the 12th century, are incomparably noble and long in the mouth.
Michel Le Gris or wine without any concessions
If you are passionate about wine you absolutely must pay a visit to Michel Le Gris whose wine shop, Le Vinophile, is located close to the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum.
A philosopher by training, Michel Le Gris came to the forefront in 2001 by publishing a brilliant monograph on the taste of wine in the day of its industrial production. His outspoken positions had earned him the anger of the Revue des Vins de France but the support of great vine growers like Aubert de Villaine of the Romanée-Conti vineyard. Today, Michel Le Gris is a famous figure in Strasbourg. His conferences, articles and commented tasting sessions attract each month a passionate public indifferent about the snob value of some wine labels! In Alsace, his favourite vine growers are Jean-Pierre Frick in Pfaffeinheim, Gérard Schueller in Husseren-les-Châteaux, Christian Binner in Ammerschwihr and the amazing Charles Brand in Ergersheim (a village located 12 miles from Strasbourg) whose well-balanced and aromatic wines are created with little residual sugar.
29, rue Mélanie, Robertsau
Tel: 03 88 31 38 10
Restaurant Serge & Co
14, rue des Pompiers, Schiltigheim.
Tel: 03 88 18 96 19
10, rue de l’Outre, Strasbourg.
Tel: 03 88 32 13 02
Au pain de mon grand père
58, rue de la Krutenau, Strasbourg
Tel: 03 88 36 59 66
87, rue Finkwiller, Epfig.
Tel: 03 88 85 51 34
10, rue d’Obernai, Strasbourg
Tel: 03 88 22 14 06