When Christophe told us “Le Mercurey” was a restaurant we would most likely walk past without a second look, he wasn’t wrong. The tiny, unprepossessing restaurant looked more like a village bar and would certainly not ordinarily have drawn the attention of any hungry, unsuspecting tourists but Christophe’s assurances that “it is the cooking of my grandmother” had us eager to test his conviction that it was worth a visit. Let me tell you right now, it is.
Several years ago some of us had a very disappointing run in with a Beef Bourgignon and ever since we’d been wanting to sample the ‘real deal’. Well, we found it, and then some. The menu isn’t extensive and there are both a la carte and set menu options. I often think of the set menu option as a bit of a tourist trap as you sometimes get bulk made, lower quality food or end up spending more than you would have ordering a la carte, but in this instance, the set menu is excellent value and the food superb. The 3 course option was just under 22 euros with each course tastier than the last and a surprise addition that had us all cross eyed with bliss.
We had all enjoyed our various entrees (mine a tomato and garlic ragout affair topped with soft mozzarella, not at all what I was expecting but totally delicious) when our mains started arriving at the table. Each meal arrived straight from the oven, still bubbling away in the dish it was cooked in and the smell of each was mouth watering.
And then it arrived. Completely unexpected but had us all going back for seconds and thirds, or more in some cases (but who’s counting, Mum!).
Gratin Dauphinois – a deliciously creamy and garlicky variation of the humble potato bake that is without doubt the best thing I have eaten in France (with the possible exception of the salted caramel macaron but even that’s a close call). Unbeknown to us, the gratin was included in our meal and 4 very large servings arrived at our table with no more ceremony than the side salads. I can tell you right now the side salads barely got a look in, most of us couldn’t finish our mains but there wasn’t a scrap of gratin left. It was just that good.
Despite some of us already having undone the buttons of our jeans, we still managed to struggle through dessert because that too, was just that good. I couldn’t go past the chocolate and orange fondant and I wasn’t disappointed. It was everything a fondant should be but with an orange surprise in the centre.
Before leaving that night we made another reservation to come back for our last night in Burgundy, already planning to skip entrees so we could dedicate more valuable room to that incredible gratin. It was just that good.