La Grand’Vigne, Bordeaux-Martillac


As you will have seen in my previous post, we recently stayed at Les Sources de Caudalie for a night and booked a table for dinner at their 2 Michelin star restaurant, La Grand’Vigne. After a freshen up in our room, we headed down the path to the main part of the hotel for an aperitif before dinner…

We took up a table by the bar and ordered a Kronenbourg and a kir vin blanc, which were brought over to us along with some flaky pastry straws and olive tapenade

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At 8pm we were taken through to the restaurant. We were among the first tables to be seated and the lack of any background noise, including no music, made you feel like you needed to speak really quietly. Shortly after though, the room did start to fill up so we were slightly less conscious of our own voices!

Our waiter ran through the menu with us and after a few minutes (well, seconds really) we decided on the 7 course ‘de l’ocean a la vigne’ tasting menu. The menus are the creation of head chef Nicolas Masse who has been at the helm since 2009. He regained the restaurant’s Michelin star in 2010 after just 6 months in charge, and it’s second in 2015 so I was excited to try some of his signature dishes

The was an option to have a wine flight to match the tasting menu, but until I have a better understanding and appreciation of wine I can’t warrant spending €225 per person on 5 glasses. Instead we ordered a bottle of white – Saint-Aubin Premier Cru Murgers Des Dents de chiens, F. Carrilon – which was expertly poured throughout the meal by our sommelier who made sure the bottle lasted to the very last course, without our glasses ever actually getting empty

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First to arrive were some amuse-bouche from the chef – fresh oysters with a cucumber foam presented in the most beautiful oyster shell dishes were among the nicest I’ve had, the foam delicately flavoured so as not to take anything away from the oyster itself

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Carpaccio of beef with seaweed was served over smoking embers – I felt that the smoke was a little overpowering but it was more the smell than anything – the flavour of the beef still came through and was wonderfully tender and melt in the mouth, complemented by a subtle hint of seaweed

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Lastly were crispy balls of squid cooked in its own ink. These were served warm and were actually quite rich for saying that they were made of seafood, and had a croquette-style texture. Of the three amuse-bouche this was by far my favourite and was incredibly moreish

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Before the first of our official courses arrived we were offered a choice of 3 small loaves – black pudding roll, cornbread and a classic baguette which was my choice – the perfect crunchy crust and chewy interior

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Two types of butter were presented with the bread – salted and seaweed flavours

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The first dish we received was langoustine tartare with cucumber jelly and caviar – I have to admit, I was not a fan of this dish at all. I think it had something to do with the lack of texture – all of the elements were soft and raw so it was just a bit mushy, and tasted overwhelmingly of the sea. Also, when I had a sip of wine that flavour seemed to intensify. It was beautifully presented but unfortunately the taste just wasn’t for me

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The second dish was very autumnal – presented on a slice of tree trunk with moss and leaves, it looked like mushrooms that had just been picked from the woods

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Large succulent seared scallops were just cooked through, and were topped with chunky ceps that were almost meaty in texture. The dish was drizzled with a cep sauce which was wonderfully rich

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The third course was ‘Farm egg’- a perfectly cooked egg with a runny yolk was encased in fine strands of fried potato, sat on a green ‘chlorophyll juice’ made from swiss chard, and a rich chicken reduction

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We were advised to cut into the egg to release the yolk and mix all the elements together so that we could taste them all in one mouthful. The chicken reduction definitely made the dish feel more substantial as it was really intense, and having all of the different flavours mingled together was fantastic – the dish was fresh, salty, meaty and crunchy all at the same time

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Next was sea bass with sweet potato, chanterelles, smoked bacon & herb celery foam. The fish itself was light and flaky but the star that elevated the dish for me was the wafer thin slice of smoked bacon that was laid on top. It brought a lovely smoky saltiness that complimented each element in the dish. The delicate foam had a good strong flavour of celery and kept the dish moist whilst the chanterelles added earthiness. The sweet potato provided another texture, although not a lot flavour-wise

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The final savoury course was venison. The meat had been gently seared leaving it deep red in the centre and was beautifully tender. It was accompanied by quince in sliced and pureed form, celeriac puree and a rich red wine reduction which was quite sharp. I would personally have preferred a vegetable accompaniment to the dish rather than the quince – potato or carrot possibly, and a slightly less sharp sauce

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Course 6 and the first dessert (and my favourite dish of the night) was a creamy frozen ice cream sphere concealing a tangy fresh passion fruit centre, which was hidden within the most delicate chocolate spiral topped with gold leaf. Fruity banana sorbet and sticky sweet Italian meringue which I adore were the perfect partners to the chocolate and passionfruit

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Lastly (or so we thought) was a crispy chocolate biscuit tuille filled with a praline mousse. I was amazed by how light this dish was, the biscuit tuille tasted caramelized and was so thin it shattered with a tap of my spoon – how the chef managed not to break it whilst filling it I don’t know! The praline mousse was airy and indulgent, and was topped off perfectly by the chopped nuts at either end

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The husband finished his meal with a pot of tea, I declined as I felt too full, but when the petit fours arrived… let’s just say none were left!

Caneles with a crisp caramelized outer shell and a soft custard-like inner, mini lemon meringue tarts & super rich dark chocolate mousse

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Overall our evening was lovely, the meal was enjoyable and the service was faultless. Presentation of the dishes was exquisite and so precise and the staff were so professional, their attention to detail was second to none (they even insisted on putting my bag on the small table they brought over so it didn’t have to go on the floor!) but it was probably the most formal setting we have ever dined in. I keep comparing it to our recent experiences at other Michelin star restaurants such as Restaurant Sat BainsMarcus at The Berkeley and Tickets – although the standard of food is at the same level,  I can’t help but lean towards their slightly more laid back, interactive approach to dining

One thing I was surprised by was that my favourite dishes were the sweet ones – I’m usually swayed by my love for savoury so it was nice to have something different as the highlight

If I were to visit again, I would be inclined to order from the a la carte menu and choose dishes that I fancied that day, rather than try to have it all with the tasting menu

You can view the menu and book a table here

Categories: Food, France, Michelin

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