Ask any local where to eat in Strasbourg and they will invariably point you to a winstub or two. Winstubs are traditional eateries particular to the Alsace region, often quaintly decorated with floor to ceiling wood panelling, wildly patterned table clothes and antiquated pictures in severe wooden frames. Decor aside, they also serve all the local specialities that we came to Strasbourg for.
Chez Yvonne is considered by many, the doyenne of Strasbourg winstubs. I’m sure its longevity (138 years and counting) and popularity amongst the politicians who flock to Strasbourg with the European Parliament is in session doesn’t hurt. But the cooking is why we chose Chez Yvonne (though the husband entertained thoughts of having his picture next to Sarkozy some point in this life), and the food quality withstands the test of time.
After an afternoon of snacking and vin chaud sipping through Strasbourg’s famous Christmas markets, we wanted to start dinner at Chez Yvonne, our first real meal in Strasbourg, on a healthy note. To our surprise, the only things vaguely vegetal on our plate of Salade Alsacienne was a tomato flower, one onion ring and some chopped chives. What we had assumed to be shredded celery root or even potato was in fact bits of gruyere, and atop that mound of cheese, a cold, boiled cervelas sausage. Not that it wasn’t tasty, in fact it was rather refreshing with the addition of a sharp mustard sauce. It just needed to be renamed as a “not-salad”.
For our main courses, we tried two meat-heavy dishes heavily influenced by Alsace’s proximity to and history with Germany. My plate of choucroute (better known as sauerkraut) was laden with charcuterie. While the pickled cabbage was a shade too dry, I polished off the spread of meat, a trio of sausages, juicy smoked ham and bacon and a pork and liver meatball, their flavors enhanced by a swab of sinus clearing horseradish.
P’s jambonneau (pork knuckle) was just as winning, the meaty pork knuckle slowly braised in a rich, pungent beer stew until the fats have been boiled down, leaving tender meat and a soft, gelatinous skin. The pan-fried potatoes on the side were a let-down and did not aid in sauce-gather. For that, one can consider changing the side to handmade spaetzle noodles.
We could hardly finish our main courses but that did not deter P from ordering his favorite dessert, creme brulée to share. Sadly to say, the custard was not firm or rich enough for us. A better choice might have been the sorbets and ice creams laced with sweet Gewürztraminer or strong local eaux de vies.
The word “winstub” joins up two words, wine and stove. Needless to say, Chez Yvonne, like the rest of its brethren, serve up quite a bit of Alsatian wine- from crisp Sylvaners to sweet, late-harvest Rieslings- alongside a host of hearty regional specialities. Delicious food and wine in a convivial setting equals a warm Alsatian welcome!
Chez Yvonne: http://www.chez-yvonne.net/english/accueil.php
Address: 10 Rue du Sanglier, 67000 Strasbourg