Cordeillan Bages (Pauillac, France) – Cordeillan Capitulation
At some points in time and space, one exists in completely different realities than others. The praise for the 2 Michelin star Cordeillan Bages is so universal and glowing that the awarding of its eventual 3rd star (next year?) will just be a formality. This tidal wave of support and enthusiasm should have been an ominous warning – Pic was another 2 star restaurant from my trip last May that just received its much anticipated 3rd star.
The hotel and dining room are quite modern but they do not exude sophistication like the rooms of Regis Marcon or Michel Bras. They are certainly lifeless when compared to the superior accommodations at L’Aubergade. The lobby is striking in its design but it must have sucked away the budget for the remaining rooms.
The Gastroville review talks of impeccable ingredients and sourcing. The disconnect between their review and my meal below could be chalked up to timing. They dined in the spring when the country’s bounty is coming to life; the time of the fabled Pauillac lamb. Our winter days were drenched in dark clouds and rain. However, the dishes below have been acclaimed by others with culinary credentials. Presumably, their meals did not suffer from the blatant and poor execution mistakes – “it must have been a bad day.” Lastly, tack on the fact that the chef, Thierry Marx, is a vegetarian and you’ve got to wonder if your meat will ever be cooked right.
The chestnut soup was fine – sweet and one dimensional. The trio of cups were neither offensive nor good. The cauliflower w/ caviar had that ‘sitting in the refrigerator all day’ texture. Ok.
2. Risotto de soja, just d’huitres et truffes
The risotto of soybean sprouts was too crunchy for it to truly resemble risotto – I think they should have been cooked a touch longer. The melted parmesan cheese gave the whole thing an interesting texture and its interplay (salty) w/ the oyster (briny) provided some point of interest. The dish wasn’t as cohesive as I’d like – seems like 2 different experiments going on. The truffle was decorative cardboard. Good.
3. Saucisson virtuel, craquant de lentilles au lard
I just had a taste of this but it was a miserable failure. It is billed as a virtual sausage – rabbit is cooked sous-vide in a membrane with oyster bouillon and lentils. The oyster bouillon needed more salt (which sounds odd now that I write it) and the lentils were severely undercooked. It was probably a send-it-back dish. Not Good.
4. Bar age de pierre au cacao
Sea bass – the lure of chocolate on a fish convinced me to order this. The fish was pathetic – dramatic temperature differences within the fish, ranging from too cold to overcooked; but, mostly, too cold. However, that doesn’t mean it was raw – I think it *was* cooked but it somehow got cold. The chocolate was earthy but subtle and it may have been an interesting dish with a decent piece of fish. Again – another why-didn’t-we-send-it-back dish. Not Good.
(I think this is the right picture though my memory is not certain.)
5. Raviole bras croises, pomme verte et hareng fume
This dish had potential but the pasta was entirely overcooked. The cream sauce was surprisingly light and ephemeral but it couldn’t save the dish. Not Good.
6. Caille prete a deguster, saveur tajine
The poor bird – not only did it die to be cooked by a vegetarian, it must have experienced Hell in that oven. My pictures don’t show it but my quail was much less thick than other pictures I’ve seen – the result, as you can imagine, was very dry meat. My notes only say “carrot gelee – ugh.” Not Good.
7. Chevreuil et semi-pros de myrtille, Grand Veneur revisitee, hot-dog des bois
I didn’t taste this – my friend comments: “Venison dish (roulade, in a blanket as well as celeriac truffle in the centre). Everything was only slightly above room temperature and overcooked with the exception of what could be best described as celeriac canneloni and the only edible component that night…”
Sometimes, these dinners can capitulate quickly and this one fell fast after the risotto. The only thing that could possibly drag me back here would be the lure of the Pauillac lamb but… it would be a hard sell. This meal earns the dubious honor of being named in the same breath as Pic, Tom Aikens, Jacques Decoret, and Moto – a wall of shame that crosses the Atlantic.
Official Site: http://www.cordeillanbages.com/