For those contemplating a trip to Strasbourg, I highly recommend renting a car. While the city has plenty of sights of its own, the wine route and the chain of medieval hamlets dotting that vine filled road are absolutely gorgeous. We village-hopped through Riquewihr, Kayserberg and Ribeauvillé and found each one charming despite the Disneyfied nature of it all, and would heartily recommend a visit to these towns coupled with some wine tastings and a good meal.
Our good meal moment came at lunch at Le Sarment d’Or in Riquewihr. It is an old fashioned country inn with the restaurant on the ground floor and some rooms upstairs for those who stay the night. The proprietors’ welcome was as friendly and warm as the wood burning fire in the hearth, and if the Michelin bib gourmand label is anything to go by, our lunch was to be good and of good value too.
A shot glass of boudin noir soup arrived with the bread as we waited for our lunch (each of us selected a different menu, me the 20E 3 course lunch special and P the 26E “bib gourmand” menu) to arrive. Hot, thick, and savory, it tasted unmistakably of the blood sausage with hints of cinnamon and apple.
Le Sarment d’Or’s menu veers towards the traditional, with both our entrées from the standard French cookbook repertoire. My squash soup was pretty unremarkable but P’s pork terrine was quite well done, with a firm texture, chunky meat pieces and fragrant pistacho nuts. Lots of salad greens and other accompaniments to keep the dish multi-textured.
Both our mains could be described as hearty braises. After a season of eating game, I knew what to expect from my wild boar stew, big chunks of meat tenderized by an intense red wine and cranberry sauce. However, the homemade panfried spaetzle, a nubby cross between dumplings and pasta was a fine surprise, a much better vehicle for the sauce than plain old noodles.
P’s veal dish was similarly full-flavored, though the veal was slow-cooked in low temperatures so that the meat was still pink at the table. Perfectly cooked peas in cream brought lightness to the otherwise heavy dish.
We finished with a pair of fruit and chocolate desserts. Again, the red wine poached pear from the cheaper 20E menu was the more mundane of the two. But P’s iced banana parfait was excellent, the icy puck filled with true banana flavors without the slimy texture of the fruit. Paired with the hot chocolate sauce, the combination of hot and cold was explosive. It reigns high on my list of favorite desserts of 2011 and that’s saying a lot as 1) we’ve eaten plenty of desserts since moving to France and 2) I don’t even fancy bananas that much. P claims it is the recency effect though I beg to differ.
Le Sarment d’Or’s wine list is, unsurprisingly, weighted towards Alsatian wine and we knocked back a carafe of cheap house Pinot Blanc (unremarkable but definitely quaffable). The rest of the wine list was also reasonably priced, though with the wealth of wineries in and around Riquewihr, drinking at the restaurant might be unnecessary!
Address: 4, rue du Cerf , 68340 Riquewihr, France