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There are two rooms in an old wine cave beneath the city streets. This one is really beautiful.

BEAUNE, France – I’ve found my way around Beaune just in time for my eight guests to arrive this afternoon for “The Charms of Burgundy.” The trip is five nights in Beaune with wine education, domaine visits, great food, and – we’ll probably taste a few.

Of course, the French are known for their cuisine as much as they are for their wine. I had my first real dinner Friday night at Caveau des Arches, very close to my hotel.


The chilled mackerel

The restaurant was highly recommended on a number of online sites, I read the reviews, checked out the website, and made a reservation before leaving the UW. Like most French restaurants they have a standard menu and a fixed-price menu. At Caveau des Arches, the fixed-price options are a Burgundian (25E), Traditional (34E) and Gourmet (54E).

My primary waiter’s broken English was only a minor challenge. I can read parts of the menu but not all. I chose the Traditional menu with the option to have the appetizer of the night, mackerel.

The mackrel was served cold, almost as though it had been pickled, with salad. It was a bit fishy, as any raw fish can be, but quite delicious.


I should have taken the pic when the fish was looking at me! My bad!

I decided to stay with the seafood theme and ordered the trout with mixed baby vegetables. The beautiful, and good-sized, fish arrived whole which my waiter promptly offered to de-bone. I took him up on the offer and he masterfully removed the fish head and center bones.

The fish was cooked just right. The firm white fish was delicious in a brown butter sauce with crunchy almond slices. The veggies tasted fresh as well.

When in France, you eat cheese. The ‘cheese course’ was next with a choice of traditional Burgundy or fresh cheese. I went traditional and was rewarded with a soft, mild, and creamy goat cheese that was quite good.


The best Creme Brulee ever!

Dessert really knocked the meal out of the park. Ordering Creme Brulee is a bit like going to Italy and having the cannoli – but it sounded good. It was the best I’ve ever had. The vanilla was intense and incredibly smooth. The potato chip-thin, warm chocolate chip cookie was out of this world.

Dinner did not include wine but I had two choices by-the-glass. I didn’t see the labels and our struggle with language did not motivate me to push it. I had a 1st Cru Beaune white that was rich and wonderful. My red was a Pommard that was just ok. But at 7E a glass, the wine was a bargain. The wine list was quite extensive running from great buys to crazy prices.

The service was good. I was dining as a single  and in these places you never know what’s going to happen. For the most part, I was pleased. There were times when tables with two or four people got more attention but that was to be expected. The wait staff were all wonderfully trained young men in white shirt and tie. Two of the waiters spoke some English.

So I left after paying a bill of 50 Euro. Honestly, that was a great value for a nice French restaurant. If you’ve never traveled Europe before, 50E with today’s exchange rate is $56.50. Everything was beautifully prepared and presented. The staff struggling a bit with their English. The atmosphere is really beautiful.

For any wine fan making the Burgundy pilgrimage, Caveau des Arches is a good one to add to your restaurant list.

I should note my group will dine Sunday night at Le Benaton and Wednesday at Loiseau des Vignes – both awarded one Michelin star. I’ll try to get similar posts up. Even if you’re not likely to visit Burgundy, who doesn’t like delicious food with nice photos?

Here are my photos from walking around Beaune Friday afternoon and evening.