Facing the magnificent Gothic cathedral in the heart of Reims, this two-year-old, 89-room hotel was created from a 1926 vintage Art Deco fire station. Its restaurant, La Grande Georgette, has immediately become popular with the Rémois for the excellent cooking of young chef Julien Raphanel. Raphanel has an intimate knowledge of the local palate because his father, Hervé Raphanel, is chef of Le Millénaire, a much-loved one Michelin-starred restaurant in Reims. Culinary talent clearly runs in this family, since a recent meal at La Grande Georgette displayed the same consummate skill, generous portions, top-rate produce and distinctive flavours one finds at Le Millénaire, although in a rather more informal setting.
Arriving for lunch with Martin and Clarissa, friends of mine from London who were en route to their holiday home near Aix-en-Provence, we all immediately liked the friendly staff and urbane industrial décor of the dining room, including terrazzo floors, factory lamps and indigo blue walls. We’d originally intended to dine at the outstanding Michelin two-star Racine, but as it was fully booked, we settled on La Grande Georgette instead, and it turned out to be a very felicitous choice indeed.
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One of us decided to try the very good value €34 lunch menu, which starts off with a choice of oeuf en meurette (poached egg in red wine and bacon sauce, which is what Clarissa had) or salmon tartare, followed by a ballotine of free-range poultry with potatoes and wild mushrooms or pollack with leeks in Vermouth sauce, and finally dessert. I started with a beautifully made chicken-liver flan with crayfish sauce, and Martin was delighted by a foie gras and stewed beef terrine with a quince and radicchio salad.
We were all impressed by the technical precision of our starters, the quality of the produce employed and the generous portions, and this was true of our main courses, too. Since it was a raw, rainy day, a roasted rack of Ardennes pork for two with an accompanying tourte of truffled potatoes was a sturdy, earthy, flavourful treat for me and Martin, while Clarissa was very happy with her grilled scallops with buttered wilted cabbage.
Desserts were lovely as well, including blueberry Pavlova with vanilla and chestnut cream, honey pudding with peanut brittle, and a very refreshing composition of blood oranges in lemon cream with parsley ice cream. Raphanel’s cooking was sophisticated and inventive, which makes La Grande Georgette a wonderful new option in Reims, especially since it’s open daily for both lunch and dinner.
La Grande Georgette at the La Caserne Chanzy
18 rue Tronsson Ducoudray, Reims
Tel. (33) 03 26 83 59 20
Lunch menu €34, prix-fixe dinner menu €39, tasting menu €49, average à la carte €65.
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From France Today Magazine
Lead photo credit : La Grande Georgette © Naiim de la Lisière