The primary meaning of brasserie in French is “brewery”. But it also means a specific sort of establishment in France: a café-cum-restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere that serves food outside the usual set mealtimes. Brasseries usually offer a limited range of popular dishes rather than an elaborate menu, and diners frequently do not linger, often ordering just one dish.
What is the difference between a “brasserie” and a “bistrot”? It’s actually more complicated than it sounds, and you can find a long discussion (in English) on that subject here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k6250591-Difference_between_brasserie_and_bistro-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
But I’m sure you get the idea :-).
The Brasserie Bordelaise is located at 50 rue Saint-Rémi in Old Bordeaux, about a 5-minute walk from the Grand Théâtre. There are no fewer than 25 restaurants practically side-by-side on this street, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous…
Where does the Brasserie Bordelaise fit in?
First of all, created in 2008, the Brasserie has already become an institution. It is relaxed, authentic, and lively, sometimes to the point of boisterousness. No chichi here. There’s a good buzz and a lot of positive energy. The food is simple, hearty, and wholesome. The wine list is outstanding.
The first part of the restaurant has a bar and perhaps a dozen tables, and there is a larger room downstairs with long wooden tables and wooden benches, as well as a mezzanine overlooking it.
Cuisine: The theme here is superb ingredients simply prepared. Delicacies from Southwest France have been carefully sourced: oysters, dry cured ham, foie gras, lamprey, caviar d’Aquitaine and, above all, beef. In fact, the beef is superb, and what better food to go with good red Bordeaux?
The restaurant’s website gives the background to suppliers: http://www.brasserie-bordelaise.fr/brasserie_bordelaise_en.php#/
Prices are in the moderate range. The meal I enjoyed last week with friends (4 of us altogether) included the following: foie gras, cuttlefish cooked with garlic and parsley, and melon with wafer-thin dry cured ham for the first course followed by rump steak, entrecote steak, and Waygu beef skirt steak for the main course. Everything was just fine, and the beef top class.
We enjoyed a 2010 Cuvée Flora from Château Patache d’Aux (AOC Médoc), that was quite enjoyable, not ridiculously young, and mercifully not over-oaked like many cuvées presige are.
Wine: The full wine list can also be found at the above link. It is quite extensive and intelligently broken down into different categories: “Specially Recommended”, “Right Bank”, “Left Bank”, “Wines by the Glass”, “Pomerol”, wines from different négociants (including Bernard Margez, Cordier, and Jean Merlaut – who is part owner of the restaurant), ones from famous winemakers and consultants, “Rare and Exceptional”, etc. As for this last category, you can find crus classés going back to 1995, up to and including first growths, at reasonable retail prices. The choice of vintage Armagnac is very impressive, and not outlandishly priced. I might add that the Bordelais are traditionally more partial to this brandy than Cognac although the former is much closer geographically.
The restaurant recently began handing out the wine list on iPads. However, 4 out of 10 were stolen, so they are rethinking that particular innovation…
La Brasserie Bordelaise is the brainchild of Nicolas Lascombes, a serial entrepreneur who managed La Tupina restaurant in Bordeaux for ten years. Monsieur Lascombes also owns and runs three restaurants on Arcachon Bay: le Comptoir du Port in Arcachon and l’Hôtel de la Plage and Le Bouchon du Ferret in Cap Ferret. Last, but not least, he has been chosen to run the restaurant in the new Cité du Vin, due to open next year.