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TOURING ALSACE


Alsace remains a wonderful place for the avid wine drinker to visit.  Many of the towns along the Route du Vin

were built hundreds of years ago and it's not uncommon to see homes which are several hundred years old.

There are hundreds of winemakers in the region and any street you stumble down is likely to have more than one "Vente Directe" sign inviting prospective customers to come in and taste.  But calling ahead is always a good idea, so do a bit of research, if you can.

When visiting many of these small wineries, though, keep in mind the that these people are looking to sell wine, not merely provide entertainment or a free drink to tourists.  We recall ringing the bell at one property and the owner asked if we were interested "only in tasting or might you want to buy some wine?"  He was not interested in having a group of freeloaders wasting his day when he could be out hunting snails or curing cabbage.

Many vintners have quite a range of wines.  It's probably best to pick a sampling rather than expecting them to open every bottle in the house, unless you're me.

There are many fine hotels and you may find the Michelin Guide to be very helpful in selecting a place.

My travels to Alsace have featured stays in modest hotels along with staying in "bed & breakfast" places.  One feature of staying in a hotel or B&B is that you are not obliged to have dinner with them.  Of course, some hotels have splendid restaurants, but others not.

A LINK TO OUR ALSACE WINES PAGE




This web site may be helpful:
www.alsace-route-des-vins.com/NewVersion/index.cfm/Language/En.cfm

 


A couple of modestly priced places to recommend for lodging:

CHEZ NORBERT (BERGHEIM)
9 Grand Rue
Tel: (03) 89 73 31 15
The Website?  Click Here...
We've enjoyed dining in this place and have stayed a couple of times.  It's run by Norbert and Mrs. Norbert...you can also park your car off the street, though we've parked on the street without incident. Modestly priced and, as my nephew says "They have a bad-ass breakfast here!  It's great!!"

The cuisine has been very good, typical Alsatian food.  Being hungry here is a good idea!  (See notes below.)




AUBERGE du CHEVAL BLANC (WESTHALTEN)
20, rue de Rouffach
Tel: (03) 89 47 01 16
Click here for their website...
 
This is a super find as the dining room here is exemplary and you can amble out the door and down the driveway into a very comfortable inn.  The rooms are spacious and, while not extremely fancy, they're quiet and off the road.  The price posted in the room was 85, but they graciously offered us the "off season" pricing  of 65 and 70 for the rooms we stayed in.  Dining notes posted below.



HOTEL au RIESLING (ZELLENBERG)
5 Route du Vin
Tel: (03) 89 47 85 85
http://www.au-riesling.com
We were interested to dine at the Michelin-starred restaurant very close to this location...a place called Maximilien (see below).  On an off-season night we stayed here at this modest hotel.  The accommodations are Spartan, but the price we paid was quite modest, about 50 .  If you're on a budget (as we typically are) and are allergic to staying in the more crowded tourist towns, this might be a good stop.

HOTEL DU LAC (Guebwiller)
http://www.domainedulac

244 Rue de la Republique
Tel: (03) 89 76 15 00
If you don't mind staying in a remote corner in the southern part of Alsace, this is a comfortable and price-worthy little spot.  I stayed here a couple of nights and paid 43, while a couple of friends and their two young kids had a special 'two room' place for 78 a night.  
It's a 2 minute drive from the little city of Guebwiller and there's a nice little lake right out in front of the place.  It's modern, comfortable and inexpensive, even during the summer tourist season.
The restaurant looks good, but we did not dine there as one night the only available table was in the bar--we'd have been subjected to music videos all meal long...but the menu and wine list looked very promising. 

We stayed here a second time and had a lovely, peaceful snooze.  We dined at the restaurant, a place with an international flair along with local specialties (we had an Alsace version of "fish and chips").  If we're not interested in driving after a meal, this is a fine place, but I think we'll dine in more typical places next visit.



HOTEL HAUT KOENIGSBOURG
Click Here for their Web Site
9 Rue de Rodern
Thannenkirch
33 (0) 3 89 22 46 60
We had a delightful stay at this relatively remote place in the hills off-the-beaten path.  They're about a 25 minute drive from Ribeauville, for example, into the hills, north and and a bit west...
The building is considered an historical site, but the rooms were renovated in 2010, or so, and the place is nicely modern and comfortable.  
We chose this place as it is not too far from the fabulous restaurant we wanted to try, the Auberge Frankenbourg (which has just ten rooms along with its great dining room).






DINING IN ALSACE

Alsace features a number of rather fancy places where you can spend a lot for a lovely meal accompanied by wines from the area and well beyond.  Our experiences have been, for the most part, in places featuring local cuisine and local wines.  We also tend to have an eye towards value, too.  Your mileage may vary, as they say.

 

AUBERGE FRANKENBOURG

13 Rue du Général de Gaulle 
La Vancelle
Tel: 03 88 57 93 90
Closed Tuesday Nights and All Day Wednesday

I forwarded this address to my friends in Frankfurt as a possible dining spot for a quick day and a half trip to Alsace.  The hotel has but ten rooms and they were booked, so we stayed in Thannenkirch, a 10 minute drive away.

We opted for the tasting menu and this meal was stellar and the food could not have been better!

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR EVENING AT THE AUBERGE FRANKENBOURG

 

 

WINSTUB DU CHAMBARD
9-13 rue du Général de Gaulle
KAYSERSBERG
Tel:  33 (0) 3 89 47 10 17

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEB SITE



This is a good place for typical Alsace cuisine and the prices are relatively modest.  They have a nice wine list with offerings from numerous local growers.

 

Here's their choucroute...

 

 

CAVEAU D'EGUISHEIM
3 Place du Château
Eguisheim
Tel: (03) 89 41 08 89
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays


Gaby and Norbert selected this place for a fairly fancy dinner in March of 2004.  The place had recently been awarded a star in the new Michelin Guide and we saw why!



We were seated in a small dining room with just out spacious table being occupied.  A glass of bubbly was brought for us to sip on while we perused the menu.



An amuse bouche of a Soupe de Potiron was superb!

We selected the 55 menu for all three...And we asked that each course be accompanied by a glass of wine.  The restaurant, by the way, features white wines exclusively from its neighbors in Eguisheim.


Lobe de Foie Gras de Canard Roti la liqueur de Pommes Verts, semi froid, glace Foie Gras et Nougatine Poivre
.
This was a generous serving of slices of Foie Gras with an ice cream of Foie Gras.  Yikes!  It was delicious, though.  This was served with a 10 glass of 2000 Charles Baur Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardives.


Norbert shares a laugh with one of the restaurant crew.  I think someone dining in the other room had asked for an Alsatian Chardonnay, perhaps.


A Zucchini Flower Stuffed with Crab and a small "salad" of bitter greens.  We had a 7 glass of Wolfberger's 1999 Tokay Pinot Gris "Eichberg", a nice combination.


Tarte Flambé au Thon Rouge et Aux Roti aux Morilles
.  This was a lovely, flavorful "pizza" of tuna with morels.  We enjoyed a 7 glass of Leon Beyer 2000 Riesling "Les Ecaillers" which had a note of petrol and minerals.  


Demi Pigonneau de nid-Theo Kieffer Rôti aux morilles, asperges verts roules aux amandes
.  Roasted pigeon with morels and asparagus was paired with a 5 glass of Paul Ginglinger's 1999 Pinot Noir.  The Pinot, served cooled, was delightful in this setting.


Munster Blanc-Munster Affine
for my pals, while I had a lovely green salad.


As is customary in many fine restaurants, just in case you've not sated your appetite, a couple of desserts are served, followed by petits fours. 
Here we had a Fraise & Rhubarb Nuage di Lait Citronn.  This was followed by a Savarin Chocolat en Chaud-Froid aux Framboises, Tuile Chocolat et Glace Vanilla.  Interestingly, we were not offered a sweet wine for dessert.
The service was excellent and stemware was appropriate.  And the price was very favorable for this level of cuisine and service.  



CAVEAU DU VIGNERON
5 Grand' Rue
Turkheim
Tel: (03) 89 27 06 85

This is one of many very typical places in Alsace.  The cuisine is not particularly expensive and it's not terribly fancy.  But it's of good quality and fair price.


 


A bottle of a good Cremant d'Alsace cost 21, while a dozen Escargot cost 12.50.  The Jarret de Porc with Choucroute cost 14.50.  Not fancy, but of good quality.




WISTUB DU SOMMELIER
51 Grand' Rue
Bergheim
Tel: (03) 89 73 69 99
Closed Tuesday nights and Wednesdays

www.wistub-du-sommelier.com/index.htm

We've dined here periodically over the years.  The place used to be owned by a famous sommelier, but today is in the capable hands of a young chef and his wife.  The Schneider's continue to traditional of good wines by the glass and fine, typical cuisine.


We began lunch with a glass of Spielmann Muscat before having a half bottle (we had many wineries to visit after lunch) of Josmeyer Riesling.



CHEZ NORBERT  (La Bacchante)
9 Grand Rue
Bergheim
Tel: (03) 89 73 31 15
Closed for lunch except Sundays and Closed Monday nights.
We have dined here on several occasions.  This is a place where you want to be rather hungry, as the chef believes in feeding his guests.  The room is a bit dark and filled with the sort of typical country-house decor.  The wine list is good and there is a huge selection of humungous-sized bottles of eaux-de-vie.  
The Choucroute here is delicious and enough for a small army.  
   




ZUM PFIFFERHUS

 

 

14, Grand Rue
Ribeauville
Tel. : 03 89 73 62 28
Closed Wednesdays & Thursdays
This is a very popular little place along the main drag in the tourist town of Ribeauville, so you'll want to either be dining early or late (and hope they let you in).  The cuisine is very typical, good quality and well-priced.  The servers are quite savvy.

We stopped in on a weekday during the summer and reserved a lunch-hour table.  They easily took care of us, despite our party having two young children and a vegetarian to cope with.  They did so most professionally.


Quiche.


The Escargot were very good...



The house wines here are quite drinkable and reasonably priced.  They're made by some of the neighbors.
We enjoyed a nice duck leg with choucroute and roasted potatoes.
We also enjoyed the 'house' Pinot Noir, served properly at cool cellar temp.


A Mirabelle tarte was just made that morning and it was delicious!



 

 

 

 

 

 


CAVEAU MORAKOPF
7, rue des Trois Epis
Niedermorschwihr
Tel: (03) 89 27 05 10
I have not been here for a few years but remember we dined well at this place.  It's a fairly traditional restaurant, not terribly formal and with good regional specialties.  The place is still run by the same family that's owned it for decades.  



If I recall correctly, there's a fairly well-known bakery near the restaurant...have a look around...
In fact, I received this info from Alsace resident Jean-Marie Morere:

This bakery is the one sheltering the renown Christine FERBER who is mainly known for her marmalades and jams. But for the story it is Mr. Maurice FERBER, her father, who invented the Kougelhopf Glacé or Ice Kougelhopf... which is now served in many restaurants.




L'AMI FRITZ
8, rue des Châteaux
Ottrot
Tel: (03) 88 95 84 85
http://www.amifritz.com/index.html
This is another well-known place in the northern part of Alsace.  We've not been there for some years, but it offers a lovely and comfortable hotel along with the restaurant.  Typical plates...the town of Ottrot was well regarded for Pinot Noir many years ago and so I recall we had some sort of beef dish cooked in the local red wine.  


RESTAURANT L'ARBRE VERT (Restaurant Koenig)
96, rue Principale
68500 Berrwiller
Tel. +33 (0)389767319
Fax. +33 (0)389797368
e-mail: rest.koenig.arbrevert@wanadoo.fr

Closed Sunday nights and Monday (and for vacation in July).

WEB PAGE:  CLICK HERE


We asked the Dirler family if they had a suggestion for lunch after our Saturday wine-tasting.

They recommended this L'Arbre Vert in Berrwiller (there are loads of places called L'Arbre Vert).  We would not have stopped at this place, but inside it's a most elegant dining establishment, with formally-dressed servers.

The owner stopped by our table and introduced herself, shaking everyone's hand.  We order a nice bottle of Cremant d'Alsace from Schaller and had a lovely little lunch.

       

 

L'AUBERGE du CHEVAL BLANC (Gilbert Koehler)
20, rue de Rouffach
68250 WESTHALTEN
Tl. 03 89 47 01 16 - Fax 03 89 47 64 40


A nearby vintner had suggested this place, since we could not only dine here, but sack out as well.  There's not much of a sign for this place, so trying to locate it after sunset is challenging.  There's merely a white horse (the cheval blanc) sign on the corner of the building.
 

The Michelin Guide has awarded the dining room a one star rating.  
We were intrigued by the "Menu Gourmand" at 76.  
Here's what we had:
 
An Amuse Bouche of a Cauliflower cream with a spoon full of salmon.

The wine list was impressive and we chose a bottle of the "house" Muscat to start.  Only after flipping through the list past the pages of Bordeaux and Burgundy did I find a selection of half bottles!  The wines are rather reasonably priced, this Muscat costing about 17.
This dish was superb:  A base of Iberian Pork Cheeks, Fava Beans and pan 'roasted' Foie Gras.

Tempura Oysters with celery root and mint.

Sole with mushrooms (chanterelles, actually).
We'd ordered a half bottle of the house Riesling which was economical and nice.

This was a pastry-covered serving of wild duck with some foie gras, accompanied by mushrooms and a potato 'cake', chestnuts and a flan of cabbage (I think).
We asked the young sommelier for a suggestion of a good, locally-made wine and he picked a half bottle of René Mure's "M" bottling of Pinot Noir.  This was 25 and worth every penny.  Very fine.

The cheese trolley was the next course.

Dessert was Pears Poached in Red Wine and some sort of Mulled Wine Ice.  A tray of petit fours accompanied this.
We highly recommend this place!
(Visited in November 2006.)

 

MAXIMILIEN
19a Route d'Ostheim
Zellenberg
Tel: (33) 03 89 47 99 69 
Fax: (33) 03 89 47 99 85
Here's another Michelin-starred establishment that's just off the Route du Vin.  We had seen this in the famous red book and a prominent local vintner had suggested the place, too (and his wines are NOT on the wine list at Maximilien).
The place is quite elegant in appearance.  The music being played was less tasteful, though and a bit obtrusive, frankly.
We were offered a small Tarte flambe to start as we perused the wine list and menu.
We opted for the Degustation Menu (76) and ordered a bottle of Eblin-Fuchs sparkling wine, a Blanc de Blancs for 8.

Anne Eblin runs the dining room, while her husband Jean-Michelin is in the kitchen.

An Amuse Bouche featured a taste of an exceptionally good pumpkin soup and a spoon full of a tuna tartare.

Foie Gras and figs with Balsamic Vinegar.
This was an amazingly fine rendition and the foie was sensational!

A "cream of Zucchini" atop Shrimp or Crayfish Tartare, topped with caviar.  Another sensational course.
We were enjoying a bottle of Eblin-Fuchs Riesling Zellenberg (23), though the wine service was a bit lax.  The bottle is kept on a nearby service table, but despite three people in a dining room taking care of 20 patrons, we often had to refill our empty glasses.

Tempura Frog's Legs  and Escargot of Pesto with a "spaghetti" of potato and a garlic cream sauce.

We appreciate the notion of "slow food," of course, but this plate of Scallops and Shrimp took ONE HOUR to arrive after its predecessor!  We wondered what happened in the kitchen to cause this...were they simply taking (better) care of the local, regular clientele or were they not happy with our photographing the culinary artistry?

The main course, which did not take an hour to arrive (it was presented in a timely manner) featured roasted lobster paired with roast pigeon with a saffron-infused sauce.  This was also a delightful course and the Eblin-Fuchs' Rouge de Zellenberg (about 25) was a nice, lighter-styled Pinot Noir.
We, again, had to help ourselves to the wine, as their service was infrequent.  An empty bottle of water sat on the table for much of the evening and they did not ask if we'd like a second bottle.
Each time we set our bottle of wine on the table, a server would arrive and return it to their service table, never getting a clue that their service was lacking or simply not caring.
This was a real shame since the place, clearly, offers fine cuisine.

A nice array of sweets, including Baba au Rhum, Macaroons, Crme Brle and some sort of Kugelhopf au Bordeaux.


Dessert was a Confit of Tomatoes with ten spices and a buttery vanilla ice cream with a crispy sweet atop these.
The tomatoes were quite sweet, but certainly unusual, as a dessert.

No order for a dessert wine was solicited and we finally opted for a sip of espresso.


Overall, we were disappointed by the lackluster service.  Considering the level of cuisine, we'd expect better.
As noted above, we did not know if we were offending the establishment by our photographing each course or if our casual (but not unusual) attire caused the poor service.  We were certainly well-mannered and polite (unless taking pictures or not speaking French is offensive).  Neighboring tables seemed to be well-served.
Visited in November of 2006.

I would appreciate hearing from others who dine here and will post comments.  (Use the e-mail address at the top of this page, please.)


HOTEL RESTAURANT GILG
1, route du Vin -  Mittelbergheim
Tel : 03 88 08 91 37 - Fax : 03 88 08 45 17

http://www.hotel-gilg.com/restaurant

We had dined here in the late 1980s on a couple of occasions, but more recently have not spent much time in the northern reaches of Alsace.
Having visited a neighboring winery, we stopped in for lunch on a Saturday in November of 2006.
The place is quaint and features a typical "country French" decor.  We pulled up a chair and perused the menu and wine list.  

As we had a drive to Frankfurt that afternoon, we ordered a simple bottle of Sylvaner "Zotzenberg" (about 20).


A small plate of nice little Tarte Flambé were brought to the table...Very good!

A "star" of cured salmon featured rounds of potatoes and black truffles.

Jesper T. Jensen with a "salad" of sweetbreads and mushrooms along with some little foie gras "cubes."

The waitress arrived with a small pot of Frog's Legs and served up a plate...Jesper was in heaven!



Turbot & Langoustines on a bed of veggies with two open ravioli and a side plate of angel hair pasta.

After each of us finished, Jesper was amused that so many people had ordered the frog's legs.  In fact, he noted, "look behind you.  The waitress is serving up some more for someone."
We were both shocked when she whisked Jesper's empty plate away and set a second helping of frog's legs before him!

We needed to dash, so we asked for the bill and departed hastily.

Here was one waitress in a large room of about 25 to 30 diners  spread over perhaps 8 tables and she was professionally, courteously and capably taking good care of each.  Bravo, Sandrine!

We will gladly return here (I recall the hotel rooms were comfortable and sensibly-priced some years ago).



AUBERGE aux VIEUX PRESSOIR
in Westhalten, close to Rouffach.
Tel: (03) 89 49 60 04
Fax: (03) 89 49 76 16

Website: http://www.bollenberg.com


We were able to book a table for 5 on short notice and drove to this oasis in the middle of the Bollenberg vineyards near Orschwihr and Rouffach.  There's a hotel across the road from the restaurant and they have a winery, too.

The decor could not be more stereotypical "French Country" in style.  

The menu is classic, with local specialties.  The wine list features the wines from their own cellar, along with modest wines from other regions around France.

We started with a Tuna Tartare and a bottle of their sparkling wine.


The Choucroute here is good, too.

One of our friends asked about a vegetarian meal and the kitchen was happy to oblige with a starter of crudités, followed by a main plate of steamed vegetables.

They were able to take care of the little kids in our party with a nice selection of chicken from the children's menu.


Our pal Jesper order the Sanglier (Wild Boar) and was delighted.

As we wound up dinner, the chef stopped by the table and inquired about the kids preference for dessert.  We were not quite able to understand what he was asking.  He motioned for the two rug rats to follow him into the kitchen and a few moments later they appeared most happy.

Service is good, a bit less polished than you'd expect given the ambience.  The dining room on our visit during a warm summer's night, was a bit hot and uncomfortable...an air conditioner or open window would have been nice.

Still, we look forward to a return visit!

 

RESTAURANT LES TERRACES (in the Hotel du Lac)
http://www.domainedulac

244 Rue de la Republique  Guebwiller
Tel: (03) 89 76 15 00
We were staying at this cost-effective, modern hotel a second time and booked a table one night...

The wine list is chosen with care and features good, local estates as well as nice wines from around France and even good Italian selections!  

They brought an amuse-bouche...

...some sort of Brandade or cod pure.

Ravioles turned out to be a rather Chinese-styled appetizer...

There was even a little "surprise" under the steamer basket...

The main plate we ordered was a local specialty...Carpes Frites.

It's not especially elegant and it was a massive amount of "Fish & Chips."

Dessert...

This is a nice place to dine, especially if you're tired and don't want to drive back to the hotel after a meal...

 






PHOTOS IN ALSACE...A SMALL GALLERY

 



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