Bordeaux: Soléna

Bordeaux: Soléna

A young Franco-American couple are creating a stir in Bordeaux with Soléna, a stylish new bistrot that showcases the produce-centric, market-driven kind of cooking that was championed by Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters in California in the 1970s, and which changed American eating habits felicitously and forever. (It may be hard to believe today, but there was a time when almost no one in the United States had ever heard of arugula.) Along with his high-impact stint at the three-star restaurant of Michel Bras in Laguiole, young chef Aurélien Crosato also gets a lot of inspiration from his wife, San Franciscan Serena Lee. Their restaurant, a good-looking place with ginger-colored stone walls in the city’s Saint Bruno district, is getting rave reviews for a very brief menu that changes almost daily—just two starters, two main courses and a dessert. Even with that brevity, when I met a friend there for dinner not long ago, I found it hard to choose, since everything appealed. Ultimately, we ate our way through that day’s entire menu, and it was superb. My starter of skewered Spanish pork with an Indian-style yoghurt-based raita was a brilliant idea, and my friend Beatrice loved her green-crab-and-ginger bouillon garnished with crab and cockles. I was also impressed by the way Crosato lavished intelligent attention on my main course of free-range chicken—a breast roasted on the bone, a thigh stuffed with olives and almonds, and a crême of tiny peas and girolles. Delicately cooked maigre (meager, or drumfish) was accompanied by an intriguing garnish of chouchouka, a North African dish of peppers and tomatoes. Topping it off, Crosato’s Sacher torte, with a syrup of cherries, peaches and verbena, was brilliant.

5 rue Chauffour, Bordeaux, Menus €36, €39, €55; wine starting at €21.

Prices are approximate, per person without wine.

Originally published in the September 2012 issue of France Today


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