The Aux Terrasses in Tournus is the best-value as well as least fussy Michelin-starred hotel/restaurant I’ve stayed in.
A young couple, Amandine and chef Jean-Michel Carrette, run the establishment. Jean-Michel’s parents moved into what was a motor inn in 1979 when he was two years old.
Jean-Michel’s parents obtained a Michelin star in 1999 but he only moved in to take over the restaurant in 2004 when his father passed away suddenly.
To his surprise Jean-Michel kept the Michelin star, helped by his mother for the next two years, but now he’s clearly his own man.
Jean-Michel had previously worked for years in haute-cuisine: at le Souffle, London Intercontinental, between 1997-2000 and then at the 3-star Michelin Maison Troisgros in Ouches, near Rouen.
An Anglophile, he relaxes by playing the guitar and listening to music; indeed, after the meal we chatted listening to Portishead. Aux Terrasses is still a family business: his wife, Amandine, runs the hotel and his mother runs the souvenir shop.
And so I arrive at Aux Terrasses. It’s an autumnal Tuesday evening but the restaurant is full with people taking pictures of their food. I don’t blame them.
And here comes the menu degustation.
Tartelette crème chou-fleur et sesame. Chips de polenta, mousse de foie de volaille
Two tiny but flavourful amuse–bouches, the cauliflower is complementary to the sesame. Light and flavour just climbs to the back of the palate and lingers.
The wine was Pouilly-Fuisset 2015 (after Chablis, my favourite Chardonnay) and the bottled water was Thonon.
Velouté de poireaux et pommes de terre, emulsion marinière.
Absolutely perfect colours creamy with only a hint of seafood.
No pic here- it’s just a bowl of soup!
Beurre de Bresse DOC with Maldon salt and three types of bread.
I choose campagne bread. And here comes the question everyone eventually gets in a Michelin restaurant. How do I eat this? I mean, what do I do with the salt? I end up adding it on top of the butter.
Friture d’ablette à la farine de gaude sauce tartare
Fish and chips inspiration: minnows in a newspaper lookalike to serve with; sauce tartare looks orange because of the addition of tomato.
[The wine changes to Rully Chénes Côté Maloumian – still Chardonnay.[
Gaufre de pomme de terre crème d’Etrez, oeuf de caille (quail), oeuf de truite.
Quite filling for its size: a potato waffle with quail egg and trout roe.
Glace gazpacho, radis, fleur de Tagète
This gazpacho sorbet palate cleanser may well be the boldest and most remarkable thing I’ve eaten. The fleurs de Tagète are tiny local, comestible marigold flowers.
Effiloché de lapin Rex de Poitou, foie gras de canard, echalotte
Pulled rabbit (like pulled pork): crusty texture while the cubed soft foie gras opposes the crunch.
Queue de langoustines, tagliatelle de celeri, crème de languoustine safran et cardamom, pate de cédrat
The langoustine tails come wrapped around a hot stone that cooks them on the spot. The taste lingers and lingers: a burp immediately after I finish brings up a welcome dose of its mixture of saffron, seafood and cardamom flavour.
Supreme de volaille de Bresse, taboulé avec orge malté, oignon farci aux cèpes and gravy.
I watched Jean-Michel in the kitchen earlier make the mushroom sauce but hey I thought he’d pour it over the chicken; instead he stuffed it into an onion croquette.As for the gravy, I could drink it whole.
The Bresse chicken is of course the most expensive chicken in the world.
NOTE to wine snobs: the wine here changes to Monthélie Douhairet Porcheret Cote Beaune. Yes, they did serve me a Pinot Noir (red wine) with chicken.
Comté râpé 24 mois emulsion poulette au vin jaune pomme granny et noisette
The cheese dish: I choose this instead of the cheese trolley No bread just eat it with a spoon. I can tell Jean-Michel likes its food slightly crunchy.
Chocolat, caramel et bonbon
I thought the râpé was the last dish. How many more ? I ask. These bonbons are the last dish, they promise.
Framboises givrées gel de verveine crème legere vanille
But no here came the raspberries. Too red not to eat.
As for service: plates disappear about one minute after I finish and new ones appear within five minutes whatever the meal progress at any table anywhere.
As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s not just the food, it’s the service, too, that matter for a Michelin star to be awarded.
Should you find yourself in that area, I’ve written a review of Aux Terrasses for the Daily Telegraph,