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Le Clos du Cèdre in Beaune, France - 1 Michelin star

Rating: 82.
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Note: In 2016 guide for France Le Clos du Cèdre has lost its Michelin star

Restaurant Le Clos du Cèdre is housed in the charming, 5-star Hostellerie Le Cèdre hotel in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. The hotel only recently got its 5-star rating and the recently added 5th star, which is proudly displayed on the facade of the hotel, still needs to get the patina the other 4 already have.

Since 2012 the head chef at Le Clos du Cèdre is Christophe Canati, who has trained in the kitchens of Bernard Louiseau and Georges Blanc, among others. Canati was awarded his first Michelin star at Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Emilion in 2002 and before moving to Beaune, he was head chef at the then Michelin-starred restaurant at the Château de Marçay in Chinon (Loire). Le Clos du Cèdre was awarded a Michelin star in the 2013 guide for France.

Le Clos du Cèdre is open daily for dinner and as per 2014 the restaurant also serves lunch on Sundays. The restaurant offers a 'Menu Cèdre' (4 courses €49, 5 courses €59), a seasonal 'Menu Dégustation' (6 courses €79) and there's an à la carte menu. I had dinner with my husband at Le Clos du Cèdre on Saturday 31 August 2013 and we both ordered dishes from the à la carte menu.

To start there were (i) Parmesan shortbread cups with aubergine puree, (ii) small cups filled with onion crème and a snail, covered with a light parsley emulsion and (iii) a bowl filled with almond crème and a melon ball, covered with a melon foam. I liked the first two canapés, but I wasn't too keen on the almond and melon flavour combination.

This was followed by an amuse bouche of tomato and mozarella, served on a red pepper cream, with some basil oil spooned around. Nice, concentrated red pepper cream. The basil oil on the other hand was sticky and lacked freshness. Combining tomatoes, mozarella and red pepper is generally not a bad idea, but in this case it really didn't work. The red pepper cream was the dominant flavour and conflicted with the other ingredients.

My first course was white crab meat, served on a pool of rather bland and cold broad bean velouté, with a thick layer of brown crab meat jelly underneath. The white crab meat was watery and had been mixed with finely chopped celery and halved, bitter olives (I believe they were Kalamata olives). Apart from dominant bitters, these olives didn't bring anything to the dish. The brown crab meat jelly was far too powerful and there was simply too much of it on the plate. A disappointing dish with completely misjudged flavours.

Main course was ballotine of rabbit, stuffed with foie gras and apricot. I liked the flavours of the ballotine, but unfortunately it hadn't been cooked properly. Some parts were moist and tender, other parts were chewy and dry. Also on the plate was a greasy rabbit pastilla. Next to the ballotine was a smear of broad bean puree - not smooth as it should be, but with a dry feel to it. On top of the puree were some soggy girolles. The sauce, which was mildly flavoured with summer savoury, was nice and really the only redeeming feature on this plate.

The cheese course was adequate, I guess. From left to right: Brillat Savarin, local Abbaye de Citeaux cheese and some Epoisses. The cheeses were okay, but in a French Michelin-starred restaurant one would really be hoping for a cheese trolley with a good selection of well-matured cheeses rather than just three pieces of cheese on a plate.

Next up, a pre-dessert of Panna cotta, topped with a raspberry and lychee emulsion, a hibiscus sorbet and some green tea crumble. A lovely pre-dessert, although the panna cotta was a tad bouncy (no photograph).
Dessert was a one-layered mille-feuille, served with some lovely salted caramel ice cream and salted caramel. A decent mille-feuille, but lacking refinement and there was not enough cream for the amount of pastry.

This meal was a major disappointment - a disappointment that caught me off-guard, I must say. I really hadn't expected something like this from a restaurant with a newly awarded Michelin star in an ambitious and quality-conscious hotel. The food wasn't just mediocre, it wasn't just below average, it was poor. Some of the ingredients were of poor quality, many of the dishes were ill-conceived, and there were unforgivable errors of execution. The flavours were heavy-handed and I sensed a certain indifference in the cooking. Michelin: if this is "good in its category", I would like to know what category that is. The capital of Burgundy deserves better than this.

Posted 08-01-2014


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