We love good food, and are perfectly happy eating at simpler places, those with more emphasis on good food and value than flash. But if you're staying in a village with a well-regarded Michelin one-star restaurant just three houses away, you just need to go with it. So, on our last night in La Vancelle, we wandered down to the Frankenbourg.
The restaurant is in a soaring room in the hotel, with lots of glass walls and light wood. The staff (including the chef's mother) are charming, very pleasant and at the same time perfectly correct. Interestingly, the prices for the plats were not much higher than what we'd been seeing in other restaurants in Alsace. We decided to go with the "Gourmet" complete menu of 5 courses, with paired wines. Hey, we're celebrating our 20th anniversary and my 50th. And at 64 euros per person including wine, it's a very fair price. My photos are a bit dark and grainy, as of course I was not using flash.
Service was like an elegant little theater production--lots of changes in silverware, murmured explanations of what all the tiny details were in the food--some we didn't catch, as it was beyond our French. Didn't matter.
First a little amuse-bouche. Crab mousse on cucumber; and a gelled tomato relish with rice crisp.
More little goodies. Lobster under a citron creme; and I have no idea what the other was, except it was perhaps based on chicken and mushroom, and delicious.
First course. A religious experience on a plate. Foie Gras, perfectly seared, with a little apricot confit and sprinkle of good sea salt. We ate this verrry slowwly. I no longer remember what the wine was, but it was lovely with the richness of the liver. (No, it was not that charred, that's the lighting)
Fish course. Beautifully cooked cod, so tender it almost had a sushi texture. On a swirl of gazpacho, with a cucumber and apple relish. Nice contrast of warm, velvety fish, sweet-tart cool gazpacho, crunchy topping. A more buttery white with the fish.
Meat course. Some cut of pork, but as rich as beef, in a delicious sauce. Another one to eat slowly. The best polenta I've ever had as well. I do not want to know how much butter and cheese was in it. A fantastic Spanish red with this.
Cheese. This was my one minor disappointment, although Larry liked it more. A marscapone mousse with Parmesan cracker, with a little salad of crisped herbs and sprouts.
Tiny strawberry sorbets in mine ice cream cones. Could this be any cuter?
Dessert. Roasted peach on an almond froth, with vanilla ice cream. The peach and sauce was really wonderful, the barely sweet ice cream was a bit icy, probably because of the low sugar.
And more little treats--apricot-nut rolled cookie, mini cheesecake with some sort of fragrant fruity thing on top that burst into liquid in the mouth; and a chocolate-raspberry confection that had Larry almost on the floor.
Dinner took three hours, and was a lot of fun in addition to being absolutely delicious. A comparable meal in New York would be easily more than twice the price. It was also fun seeing the other diners--from a very elderly couple in back of us who somehow went through the 7 course meal, to a well-dressed couple in their 20's out for a special date, to backpackers enjoying a good meal. the Auberge has hotel rooms and is right on the hiking trails, so I think it'd be a great place to spend a weekend.