Spending a single night at the Lion d'Or Grand Hotel was an unforgettable experience filled with discoveries, relaxation and most importantly culinary wonders.
Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, Didier CLEMENT is inspired by his readings, people he meets or his promenades in the Sologne region. From a light, an impression, a color, a smell, he is creating subtiles and sincere dishes, surprisingly balanced and harmonious. He re-discovered old varieties of herbs, vegetables and spices and has still today gardeners working especially for him. You enter into cozy dining area composed of two distinctive rooms welcoming guests in the outmost professionalism. We were seated by the owner Mrs. Marie-Christine Clément who made sure with her beautiful smile that everything was taken care-off perfectly. Afterwards, three adequately trained waiters accompanied us along our tasting soiree.
Among chef's Didier Clement classics:
-"Cuisses de Grenouilles à la Rocambole" (a frog legs salad using a wild variety of garlic)
- "Langoustines à la Graine de Paradis" (langoustines perfectly cooked flavoured, like in the medieval times, with a mixture of different spices with a dominant of the Paradise Seeds, a spice he has been the first to use again after it was lost for 5 centuries)
-"Pigeon farci façon babylonienne" (a pigeon stuffed spices and garlic, dates and almonds as in the Babylonian times)
-"Brioche caramélisée au Sorbet Angélique" (a caramelized bun served with candied Cedrat, fresh raspeberries and a fresh Angelica sorbet)
We ordered for dinner:
- Cuisse de Lievre en Civet au Cacao, Pates fraiches a la farine de Chataigne, Petite Saucisse de Lievre, Figue & Pousses de Celeri (Hare stew flavoured with cocoa, fresh chestnut pasta) - Entrecote de Boeuf du domaine Coutancie, sauce Bearnaise, Carpaccio a l'huile Picholine (Rib steak beef from Coutancie domain, Bearnaise sauce, carpaccio flavoured with Picholine olive oil) - Thon blanc "Mikado" laque, Fleur d'ail Gingembre, rouelles d'oignon doux (White tuna "Mikado", candied Garlic flowers and ginger, round sliced sweet onion) - Langoustines bretonnes, Pickles au vinaigre de Sureau, tartare a la Bergamote (Langoustines, Pickles flavoured with Elder flower vinegar, raw langoustines flavoured with Bergamot)
One exquisite dessert to share: - Chocolate noir glace, feuilles de nougatine, praline mousseux (Dark chocolate Ice-cream, nougatine leaves like a millefeuille, foamy hazelnut sauce)
The great pluses: - Prices are only revealed to men - The lighting is adequate allowing me to take great pictures - Waiters are always smiling and welcoming, their moves and actions are all very professional - A rectangular working table is placed in front of every round one for service only - No salt is offered at the tables as the food of Grand Chefs should never be altered but appreciated as served - I love it when they prepare the wine and poor it into the caraffe in front of us - Their vast choice of cheese makes you want to taste all - The wine list is so wide and printed on blue thick paper enjoyable to surf - Wine is served in a silver stand as well as they complete set of silver cutlery.
Not only are the portions too generous and big but the side dishes served with the main course are too many. That was a premiere for me in a fine dining restaurant. The chef gives you the chance to taste many flavors at once and enjoy each with more than a single small bite.
The few minuses:
- One of the waiters is way too serious. He made me feel uncomfortable
- Classical music in the background is missing.
The ambiance is too calm and sober for my taste
Enjoying the many magical tastes:
Dinner tonight started with the presentation of bread accompanied by salted and normal butter. We choose between Sel de Sarasin (salt buckweat), Cumin, White baguette and Anise bread, which were all crunchy and tasty followed by the welcoming plate that is usually of one single preparation but at the Lion d'Or we were offered three of them; as I said, they are too generous. Marignere de veau, Lait de Morrue et Moules au Currie presented in a spoon, circular dish and cup all served in a square plate. It's the first impression that was delicious... here I knew we were for in for an exquisite treat. Everything tonight was so delicious with ingredients that woke every taste bud up. The presentation and smells were even better. My favorite was the Hare stew flavored with cocoa and its mini sausage: A unique preparation of a tender piece of meat floating in a river of chocolate giving it a unique taste. You don't feel any sweetness but a rough mixture of the most elegant ingredients. This dish was accompanied by a salad of figs and unique Hare sausage. Everything, every single preparation was unique and enjoyable. The Langoustine, rib steak and tuna were all just perfect. Imagine that I ordered the White tuna "Mikado", candied Garlic flowers and ginger with round sliced sweet onions yet didn't feel one single side effect considering that I am allergic to both garlic and onions. A plate so perfectly prepared that ingredients were given the needed taste.
After dinner some mignardises have been offered with (Sorbet a la fleur de sirop) awaiting the dessert. We were offered 16 pieces of delicious mignardises that were to much for my wife and I alone at the table. But although we were full, this dinner could not end without trying Chef Clement's dessert. The dark chocolate cake is even better than all the rest... So imagine!
The wine tasted: Olga Raffault, Chinon 2008, Les Picasses Three hotels visited, three dinners and this one is my favorite.