Bordeaux, France

We had less than 24 hours in Bordeaux, talk about getting just a taste of a city! Well, we wasted no time dropping off our bags and making our way to the famous La Brasserie Bordelaise. Have to say it was rather disappointing after seeing it recommended by so many – we recommend Le Chien de Pavlov instead. There was also a distinct l’eau du “stank” in the air as we walked around the city and we weren’t sure if it was something going on with the rains and the sewer or if that was the norm. I also wasn’t aware that Bordeaux is a college town, so it was quite a change of pace after quiet La Rochelle.

Logistics

general

Good to Know

Vaccinations: Routine Vaccinations

Mosquito problems: None. Their windows don’t have screens, so it seems as if there wouldn’t be such a worry

Problems for tattoos: None

Traveling as a woman: Standard Precautions

Getting around

There’s a light rail system that seemed really popular, but as we essentially had just a day, we spent it walking around the city center.

budgeting

Currency: 1 EUR = 1.15 USD
Tipping is not necessary, but appreciated.

Daily Budget

$90-110/person: We kind of blew the budget on this day in Bordeaux, but we figured it was a culinary center and warranted a fully committed taste, however we definitely recommend Le Chien over La Brasserie.

Some typical costs

  • Le Brassier Bordelaise lunch menu of the day: 22 EUR
  • Le Chien de Pavlov tasting menu (pp): 41 EUR
  • Glass of wine: 4-8 EUR
  • AirBnB: $33/night

What to Eat

La Brasserie Bordelaise

La Brasserie Bordelaise

brasserie-bordelaise.fr/en, 50 rue Saint-Rémi, $$

Bread comes with tootsie roll shaped butter and small can of pâté.

Menu of the day:

  • A stewed and shredded beef served cold on a bed of spinach with red onions and little yellow peppers and a little pickle. Flavors were unremarkable, though the beef was tender and the onions bright.
  • Dover fish with ratatouille. The fish was just a touch overcooked on the thinner parts but otherwise ok. First time eating ratatouille, sadly it wasn’t as amazing as the movie made it seem, haha!
  • Dessert is an overwhelming plate of ginger: a ginger cupcake, ginger syrup and ginger whipped cream. As you can imagine, there was just too much ginger and it needed something else to help balance it out. The cake itself is moist and had a good crust, perhaps a citrus syrup and plain sweet whipped cream would have been better.
  • The ribsteak was flavorful, cooked more rare than rare medium, not a problem for us. It comes with salad and fries, nothing special. The steak was the definitely the best dish of the meal.
  • Red wines: Le Cadet de Larrivet Haut-Brion 2015 – Pessac-Léognan was a strong but smooth wine, with just a hint of some edges, but milder in aroma and flavor. In comparison, the Château Madelis 2016 – Graves seemed brighter and had a more aggressive first impression, then mellowed out quickly.

This meal did not compare to Chez Germaine or even Prao, and if in Bordeaux we definitely recommend spending the money at Le Chien instead, read on!

Le Chien De Pavlov

Le Chien de Pavlov

lechiendepavlov.com, 45/47 rue de la Devise, $$$

Reservations are recommended if you plan for a later dinner (later by American standards). We both got the tasting menu; in fact the whole table has to do the tasting menu and if you’re doing the tasting, you cannot order anything else à la carte. We had also wanted to try the foie gras, but she insisted that we could order just à la carte or tasting, then confidentially reassured us the foie would be on the tasting menu. It turned out that it wasn’t actually on the tasting menu that evening, but since she promised it, she gave us the foie on the house!

  • The first plate was tasty cubed fish and potato. A great mix of flavors and textures; they like to use crispy bread crumbs on lots of their dishes here.
  • A bowl of chowder with mushrooms and their take on the 64-degree egg followed. I believe they cook theirs at 68 degrees (celsius) for 68 minutes. This is some serious poaching for an egg, which meant the whole egg was still very runny though fully cooked. We weren’t sure if it was intended but we opted to pop the egg and eat the yolk with the chowder, which tasted like a very luxurious party.
  • Mon Dieu! The foie gras, delicious! Half cooked and breaded on the outside, topped with a bit of pear and fish and mint basil leaf, alongside a smear of smoked tea jelly. The flavor combo was amazing: so sweet and rich and refreshing all at once.
  • A lightly fried fish filet on zucchini mash and cooked spinach with a soy sauce based sauce. This dish was probably the least interesting, the zucchini mash was watery as you might expect and we were a bit baffled at the 2 leaves of raw spinach used to garnish a plate that has cooked spinach.
  • The final savory plate was a seared duck with mushrooms, on a bed of mash and “meat juice”. It came with a single blackberry, which paired really well with the duck, so cut that little sucker up and distribute accordingly.
  • Dessert was roasted figs with puffs of chocolate almond mousse, a dollop of ginger ice cream, fresh walnuts, and more crunchy bits over a splatter of black currant sauce. As it sounds, there was a lot going on with this plate. The house made chocolate almond mousse was my favorite piece, earthy yet light. The ginger ice cream was very strong, just a dab of it can overpower the other flavors. (We had so much ginger today!)
  • For wine we had the Château Lusseau, Grand Vin de Bordeaux, Graves 2014 and the Domaine Des Damoiselles, France, Catherine et Patrice Rétif Vignerons, Saumur-Champigny Horizon 2017. We were informed that year 2017 is much better than 2016; it was brighter in the front and mellow in the back, while the Graves was (as typical) a stronger red, smoother and a bit heavier.

Where to Stay

Studio agréable à 300 m de la gare Saint Jean – Bordeaux
The host was very responsive and friendly and the location is conveniently near the train station, but a bit of a trek from the city center. We only stayed one evening so the apartment suited our needs, however it wasn’t the most pristine. The bathroom had a smell and could have been cleaner. The mattress felt like kind of like an air mattress that wasn’t full because it was sinking in the middle. We also didn’t understand the note left for the wifi access, but luckily we didn’t really need it. The building does have great security though, so we felt very safe.

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