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Restaurant Review: Le Fleury, Beaune, France

Restaurant Le Fleury
15 Place Fleury, Beaune ✆ 03-80-22-35-50
Hours: 12:00 to 14:30 & 19:00 to 21:30, Open daily
Average Price: €40 per person All major credit cards accepted

With the outward appearance of a rather run of the mill brasserie, this is a place I had passed by on numerous occasions without much thought. Big mistake. When I finally sat down and tried it, it turned out to be one of my best meals in France.

While I looked over the menu, the waiter recommended a glass of nice rosé wine as an aperitif. I'm not normally a big rosé fan, but he gave it very high marks -- something quite exceptional were his words -- and since it was quite hot out, a chilled wine sounded nice. I gave him the go ahead and was not disappointed. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Gazpacho at Le Fleury, Beaune

The menu has enough Burgundian classics to satisfy the first-time visitor to Burgundy, along with some foreign elements like pastas and risotto. Having eaten my fair share of Boeuf Bourguignon, I opted to go "foreign" with a starter of gazpacho, followed by risotto with spring vegetables, and tiramisu for dessert. I also ordered a glass of chablis, to follow when I was done with the rosé.

My gazpacho arrived quickly. Not just a lazy bowl of red soup with some crusty bread, it was a work of art and included a few greens dressed in olive oil and balsamic, plus a crispy wafer of baked parmesan cheese. The gazpacho was perfect. Fresh tomato taste, nice texture and just enough garlic to give it some bite without being overwhelming.

Next up was the risotto. I had by now finished off the rosé, and the glass had been cleared away, but my chablis was no where in sight. The waiter who brought the risotto was not the one who had originally taken my order -- common in European restaurants, where they're not working for tips and nobody "owns" a table. The system works wonderfully if you have a well-trained staff and diligent management, but can quickly fall apart if someone gets lazy and expects "the other guy" to pick up the slack. Pretty soon they're all lazy, and there's no "other guy" left.

Risotto with spring vegetable, Le Fleury, Beaune

After setting down the risotto the waiter spun off to another table before I could say anything about the wine, but not ten seconds later the original waiter glanced at my table from half-way across the restaurant, crinkled his brow, and then dashed out of sight. He soon appeared at my table with the glass of chablis. I hadn't needed to say a word, and Le Fleury was quickly winning my heart.

The risotto was a revelation. Creamy, with just enough tooth. Each of the vegetables, though they all would require different cooking times, were fresh and tender. Nothing mushy or over done.

Tiramisu at Le Fleury, Beaune

Last of all the tiramisu. I fear ordering tiramisu in a restaurant I don't know, even in Italy, because so many restaurants put out a slab of semi-thawed, store bought mush on a plate, figuring most patrons are over stuffed and half drunk by this point and will never know the difference. Fortunately, this was not the case at Le Fleury. It wasn't exactly a classic tiramisu -- more of a tiramisu and berry parfait, but obviously from scratch. And it was delicious.

Everything was beautifully presented and brilliantly prepared, but the service was what really won me over. Top notch attention, without being intrusive.

The restaurant has a large indoor dining room, plus a small terrace when the weather is nice. A definite keeper.

On the road again...

I'm in Europe again. My route to Paris this time was a little unusual, as the best fare I found was with Air Canada (a United Airlines partner), via Montreal. It was a three leg flight departing my home airport of Fresno bound for Denver on a United Airlines. In Denver I transferred to Air Canada and flew to Montreal, then on to Paris.

I was very impressed by both of my Air Canada flights. I've flown almost nothing but United and American for the last several years, since they have the best connections out of Fresno. I've gotten fairly used to unsmiling, stressed out flight attendants, ever smaller seats, and plane interiors that could use a good, thorough cleaning. On the rare occasion when I've been on another airline, usually Lufthansa for a short connector flight in Europe, I've gotten a glimpse of air travel I remember from by-gone days (ie, pre- 9/11).

The interiors of the Air Canada planes I flew looked brand new. They had a beautiful entertainment system with lots of movie and audio choices, a power plug at almost every seat (for those who wanted to plug in a laptop and work), and a USB port at every seat, perfect for keeping my iPhone charged. The flight attendants actually seemed to be enjoying their jobs -- relaxed, smiling and chatting with passengers rather than throwing trays as they dashed by. The food was even good.

Meals on the Denver-Montreal leg had to be purchased, but they looked tasty. My included dinner on the trans-Atlantic flight was chicken in a creamy Dijon sauce, with sides of pasta, bread and marinated vegetables, and a chocolate cake for dessert. I would have been happy with the quality in most earth-bound restaurants.

So overall, thumbs up to Air Canada.

Over the coming six weeks I'll be guiding three groups through France, Germany and Italy. Blog posts may be more sporadic than usual, just depending on how much time I have and whether or not I have an internet connection, but you can get more frequent updates on my travels by following us on Twitter or Liking us on Facebook.

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