French Restaurant Review: La Nauve, Cognac

French Restaurant Review: La Nauve, Cognac

Set in Cognac, the hotel La Nauve houses two restaurants serving bold but delicious meals – and rather superb desserts too thanks to talented pâtissier Simon Souchaud.

Formerly the home of a Cognac producer, this elegant 18th-century mansion has been renovated to create an intimate and very charming hotel with great style. Not only does it have a great location just on the edge of Cognac, one of the most charming small cities in France, but it also has two excellent restaurants, both under the direction of chef Anthony Carballo, who apprenticed with Michelin three-star chef Yannick Alléno at Le Meurice in Paris, and the exceptionally talented pâtissier Simon Souchaud.

Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, La Brasserie des Flâneurs is a very useful address not only because its cooking is excellent, but because it’s open daily and serves lunch from noon until 2.30pm, a generous window for provincial France. This makes it an ideal spot to stop for lunch if you’re visiting the cellars of Cognac or travelling along the Atlantic coast.

The two chefs at La Nauve, Anthony Carballo and Simon Souchaud © Lenaka

During a delightful weekend recently spent at La Nauve, we dined at the brasserie when we arrived at noon. This handsome stoned-floored dining room with beamed ceiling occupies the former distillery. On the autumn day we visited, it was filled with light and was busy with Cognac producers entertaining international clients.

The menu, which changes regularly, has many dishes for two, so dining as two couples, two of us enjoyed the grilled sea bass with citrus sauce and the other split a very good cordon bleu (breaded chicken stuffed with ham and Comté cheese). These mains came with a moreish choice of side dishes, including a fricassée of mushrooms, cauliflower au gratin, mesclun, pommes Dauphine and a millefeuille of root vegetables. Desserts were very good, too, notably the fig and walnut tart.

Notes, which is the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant, occupies an intimate Napoleon III style salon for 20 covers and is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. The two prix-fixe menus change regularly according to what’s best in market and the chef’s latest inspirations, but despite the fact that I find ‘surprise’ menus a rather tiresome and dated convention, we had a superb meal here. Some dishes were traditional, including an impeccably cooked fillet of salt-marsh lamb with smoked aubergine, black garlic and anchovy jus, while others were notably bold for a dining room in provincial France.

La Nauve © Lenaka

Dressed crabmeat, for example, came with two different garnishes – anise and caviar, the former being the more original; while a pearly fillet of yellow pollack, a pleasant but timid fish, acquired the tongue-in-cheek sensuality of a torch song singer in a cabaret with a potent fumet de poisson, citrus foam and jaunty garnishes of hazelnut and nasturtium leaves.

This delightful meal concluded with a sublime lemon and honey cake served under a honeycomb-like pastry lattice, a perfect example of why Simon Souchaud is one of the best pâtissiers working in France right now. And one last word to the wise: do not miss breakfast during a stay at La Nauve because Souchaud’s croissants and viennoisseries are simply exquisite.

La Nauve, 2 Rue de la Nauve, Cognac, Tel. +33 05 48 17 03 70,

Average à la carte at La Brasserie des Flâneurs €55; prix-fixe menus at Notes four-courses €70, nine courses €110.

From France Today Magazine

Lead photo credit : © MARIE DESPREZ, LENAKA

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Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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