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Restaurant review: Le Jardin des Remparts, Burgundy

Le Jardin des Remparts
Beaune, Burgundy
Cuisine: French
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If you've ever been stuck on the wrong side of a strike, you'll know it's a frustrating and not altogether enjoyable experience. But today is an exception. I'm on a barge on the Burgundy Canal and two days into our leisurely cruise towards Dijon, the Government-employed lock keepers go on strike – meaning we're stuck where we are. But there are worse places to be 'stranded' – give me deepest Burgundy in autumn over Stanstead Airport any day.
 
Like any sensible person would do in this situation, we decide to go to lunch and end up in Beaune, where, just down the road from the town's fine Hospice, in a high-walled garden is Le Jardin Des Remparts.
 
Once the home of a Michelin star, the lunch promised to be a good one.
The outdoor terrace – full of oversized statues and chunky sculptures was a fitting introduction to what we were to find indoors.
 
Once inside, we turn right into a spacious room with striped linen curtains flooding the room with afternoon light. A quick wander around gives you a sense of the smart eccentricity of the décor – there's a grand piano upstairs, large metal pigeons on each table and someone even said they spotted a huge boxer dog doing the patrols.
 
As it turns out, the décor – modern, characterful but not always comfortable, echoes the food.
 
After an aperitif in the form of a cold class of sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne, I set about the lunchtime set menu, which starts with an appetiser.
But before appetiser comes a pre-appetiser, a selection of four little amuse bouches on a stone slab. There's a square of Jambon Persille – a rough ham terrine heavily flecked with parsley and a chilled snail in a rich garlic butter – the type which would make cardboard tasty if it was drizzled over it.
 
The mustard ice-cream is smooth and peppery while there's also a traditional Gougere – choux pastry laced with Gruyere.
 
The appetiser course itself - a tiny bowl of sharp and sweet tomato soup – seems to sit in the shadow of its supposedly less senior, but infinitely more imaginative predecessor on the dinner table.
 
The next course, 63 degree eggs in Burgundy truffles, comes with a light hollandaise sauce but doesn't capture me.
 
The barely-cooked egg, still translucent in parts, is hard to stomach and but thrown a a nutty, deeply autumnal lifeline from the generous shavings of truffle.
Next comes a “wing of stripe of Grenoble” - which seems to be a well cooked piece of something sole-like. It's my first fish in Burgundy, and hardly a local speciality, but the white flesh, creamy and sweet, is a joy.
 
The main course is three pieces of veal – the cheek, the kidney and the rib in a tart vinaigrette with vegetables. Spread out in different corners of a large plate, the three pinky-red cuts look like they've just had an argument with each other, but are tied together by a sharp vinaigrette, which cuts through the indulgent richness of the meat and make it a good lunchtime main.
 
The pre-desserts are all as innovative and well cooked as the treats we got at the start of the meal. A floral-scented panna cotta is the best, closely followed by a still-warm orange cake and then a mini dollop of rice pudding. The white jelly, however, which spurts coconut-flavoured liquid into your mouth when you bite down almost immediately makes me think of chewing an eyeball – albeit a good-flavoured eyeball.
 
The dessert, the final course of a lunch which has killed at least two hours of my day, is a big affair. Under a crisp wafer is messy collection of pears, toffee and a liquorice sauce. Some components are hot, some are cold and the pears offering enough resistance to make for an interesting texture.
 
After coffee, the afternoon is almost over. A walk along the canal – to where we'll venture tomorrow on the barge helps work off the large lunch. And if I see any striking lock keepers, I might just say “thanks”.
 
 
 
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