In Bordeaux last week, living a Travelife, we booked a stay at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux.
This is the region's best and most glamorous hotel, and it has the most ideal location to boot. Everywhere in this lovely city of food, wine and beauty is central if you're based at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux.
Moreover, the Bordeaux branch of Galleries Lafayette was only two minutes away, and the store was on sale up to 80%. I don't know how a hotel location can get more ideal than this.
Read more about Bordeaux and this hotel in our upcoming August- September issue.
|This lady fixes all the reservations|
For now, let me just say that this hotel and its staff impressed us terribly.
From the moment you see their kind but formal and efficient doormen, and interact with their equally kind but formal and efficient concierge team, you somehow just know that everything will be all right.
|The waiter who took care of our meals...|
There will be no problem that they will not be able to fix. Or at least, that's the impression they give. And, frankly, it's quite a comforting one when you've been traveling a lot and you are finding yourself in a new city again for the nth time.
The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux is an old hotel, but it's a very well-maintained one. It's also very appropriate for the kind of city Bordeaux has become.
A TRULY WONDERFUL MEAL
And one of the highlights of our stay here was dinner at the Le Pressoir d'Argent fine dining restaurant of the hotel, which is currently the recipient of one Michelin star.
|The famous lobster presse|
I've dined in a lot of highly-rated restaurants all over the world, and never did I come across a restaurant like Le Pressoir d'Argent that was so undeserving of a Michelin star.
It shouldn't only have one star as it is definitely worth of at least two stars, if not three.
SUPERIOR IN SO MANY WAYS
|Our fantastic sommelier that evening.|
He recommended a local white we'd never heard of, which turned out wonderfully.
When I think of all the two-star and three-star restaurants I've dine in, and compare these with Le Pressoir D'Argent, the latter is superior in so many ways.
The quality of the food is excellent, and the service is just amazing -- it's just like the rest of the hotel: kind, but formal and efficient.
|The famous lobster presse.|
There are only three in use in restaurants in the world,
and a fourth is in a museum.
They know when to keep their distance, and when you need them. They won't talk to you much unless they feel you want to start a conversation.
But if you ask them a question, they will happily satisfy every need for information.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RESTAURANT AROUND
Plus, the restaurant is just beautiful.
It's probably the most beautiful restaurant I've eaten in, in a long time, in a never-ending Travelife of fantastic meals and amazing settings.
REASONS FOR ONE STAR
Why do they only have one star, you might be wondering.
|So many breads, too little tummy space...|
I can only guess what goes on in the minds of the inspectors. Perhaps they find the food here just a little bit too classic.
I notice that many of the most highly-rated restaurants these days are all about extreme innovation, whether for good or bad.
Diners really become guinea pigs, rather than customers.
|Classic cooking right by tableside|
It seems to matter so much nowadays that you can turn a kiwi fruit into some kind of soup by pureeing it with exotic mushrooms and Bresse chicken, for example, and re-engineering it so that it looks like soup when it's served, but it actually isn't.
You get the picture of the trend in restaurant ratings these days.
To top it off, the top restaurants are all gearing away from fancy atmospheres and making do with simple wooden furniture, industrial fixtures, warehouse-like interiors and casual service.
I ate in a very hot restaurant like this called Test Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa a few months ago, and it's been named the best restaurant of the year.
Of course, I can appreciate the casualness of such restaurants, too.
Many fastidious foodies believe this will help them better concentrate on the food. And purists will tell you that the atmosphere doesn't matter at all if the meal is fantastic.
But when I'm dressed up for a rather special night out, I do want the beautiful restaurant serving food I can recognize.
CLASSICAL COOKING AT ITS BEST
|Bearnaise sauce with lobster essence being poured onto my sweetbread and lobster|
At Le Pressoir, everything is about tradition and good classical cooking -- with just a little twist.
And the most famous dish here is a medley of lobster and sweetbread served in a sauce of real lobster essence combined with the very French bernaise sauce.
|The Bearnaise sauce being added to that essence of lobster and caviar.|
Just remembering this makes me want to eat here again very soon.
The lobster essence is achieved by placing the head and the tails of the lobster into a special container inside an elaborate silver lobster press, together with a black liquid made of caviar and lobster eggs, if I heard right.
I'd had three glasses of champagne and a couple of glasses of Bordeaux white by then, you see.
The result of the lobster and sweetbreads with the sauce is just amazing.
|The precious lobster liquid being poured into a sauce container|
I don't even like bearnaise sauce, but I loved this one, which was prepared with the lobster presse for two people right by our table.
HOPING FOR MORE STARS
|The chef of Le Pressoir D'Argent|
I really hope they add more stars next year.
One upside to just having one Michelin star, however, is that the prices are relatively reasonable.
In fact, before signing the bill, the Travel Companion actually had to double-check the itemization of our dinner because he thought the restaurant had forgotten to include the drinks in the tally.
It's not cheap, mind you.
The lobster dish as a main course for two people alone cost over 120 euros, if I recall right.
And then you have to factor in the appetizers and desserts, and all the wines and spirits.
But for a meal of this caliber, served in this truly beautiful venue, it's practically a steal.
We certainly paid way less for this wonderful dinner than for a bistro lunch in Paris -- both terribly enjoyable, and either way, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.
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