Château Lynch Bages, a producer of fine wine, is located in Pauillac, in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France.
Food: The five-course meal was quite elegant and delicious, defying the more humble insinuation of the country cottage décor. We began with a very lovely foie gras confit au torchon, chutney de fruits et porto réduit (Foie gras shaped with a tea towel with fruit chutney and a port reduction). This was followed by saumon rôti aux mangues, nouilles fraîches au thé fumé ( roasted salmon with mangoes, and fresh pasta flavored with smoked tea leaves). This course was quite delicious. The mango complimented the perfectly cooked salmon, and the taste of smoked tea leaves permeating the incredibly fresh and delicate noodles was very unique. Our wine (Château Lynch Bages 1996, see below) did nothing for the salmon, or vice versa, but beyond that, this course was one of our favorites. The main course was an amazingly tender épaule d’agneau confite aux aromates (shoulder of lamb with aromatic herbs) served with gâteau de pommes de terres (a layered “cake” of delicate potato slices). The juicy meat melted in our mouths, and the potatoes added a homey, comforting feeling to this dish. Here was the stellar food and wine pairing we’d been waiting for!
The main course was followed by a cheese course, an aspect of dinner that we were getting perhaps a bit too fond of in our travels in Bordeaux! One hard and one soft cheese was served drizzled with a delicately sweet, golden honey. Dessert was aubergine crystallisée au sucre, crème de badiane et sorbet basilic (aubergine slices crystallized with sugar, cream of anise, and a basil sorbet). The result of this combination of intriguing ingredients was a surprising and pleasing blend of spiciness and sweetness; a fitting end to this unique meal.
Wine: We simply had to have something from Château Lynch Bages’ own cellar! We chose a half bottle of Château Lynch Bages 1996. It paired particularly well with the lamb course, but not so wonderfully with the salmon (quelle surprise).
Exceptional Features: It was a oenophilic thrill for us to sip on a wine made only a few yards away from the restaurant.
Service: Excellent- attentive yet non-intrusive service. English was spoken.
Décor/Ambience: The dining room has a homey, country feel, as though you are dining in the great room of an old country cottage. An enormous hearth dominates the back wall and would have contained quite a blaze had it been lit. Though the room could accommodate many more guests, there are actually very few tables, and they are placed at quite a distance apart from one another throughout the large room. I was struck with a deep desire to know more about the designing motives of the proprietors as my gaze fell upon a large shelving unit lined with kitschy teapots of every colour and description, from frog-shaped to house-shaped to Elvis-on-a-motorcycle-shaped!This last teapot fit in particularly well with the fifties-style jukebox inexplicably present against the wall across the room. I had the sensation that we were guests in someone’s home, eating amidst their quirks and collectibles. It was strange, but oddly comforting.
Dress Code: Most diners came straight from the winery tour. Despite what we’ve heard about the general rule of thumb that dress for such outings should not be North American casual, folks were definitely in jeans and shorts. We will note that two European groups on the tour retreated before dinner only to reappear at the restaurant dressed more formally than they had been on the tour. Tasteful, resort casual attire would be your best bet here.
Reservations: Reservations were offered to us through the concierge at Chateau Cordeillan Bages, the adjacent Chateau affiliated with Lynch Bages.
Overall Dining Experience: Excellent, 4 barrels