In the fast-paced restaurant industry, keeping up with the ever-evolving food scene can be challenging for chefs and restaurant owners alike. Luckily in Bordeaux, even when trends change, traditional French cooking values persist, meaning that a typically Bordelaise essence remains strong in the city’s cuisine.
Culture Trip speaks to Anne Lataillade, writer of the food blog Papilles et Pupilles, who shares her favourite places to eat out in Bordeaux, divulging her passion and adoration for the food offerings in her home town. Lataillade reveals: “I think Bordeaux is a very interesting city for foodies. French cuisine is, of course, on offer, but the city is also renowned for a wide variety of international dishes. What the city does best, however, is expertly pairing wines to every dish. Try sauternes wine with Chinese food, for example. Perfect.”
Stop by Madame Pang for a sophisticated soirée of cocktails and dim sum
Bar, Restaurant, Chinese, Dim Sum, Cocktails
Courtesy of Madame Pang
Frequented by trendy groups of friends, Madame Pang is a popular hang-out for young socialites enjoying an after-work apéro with colleagues. Inside, the elegant decor and moody lighting also set the scene for a fashionable dining affair. Through using fresh, local produce to create the authentically Chinese menu, Madame Pang fuses elements of Bordeaux and China beautifully and offers a wide selection of dishes, with its ‘classic’ and ‘deluxe’ dim sum dishes standing out as the proud favourites. Smaller side plates include sweet-and-sour pork, and you simply can’t miss the spring rolls. Cocktails are creatively curated and perfectly complement the tangy tastes on the menu. Serving food until the small hours, Madame Pang is the perfect pick for a late night in Bordeaux.
Soak up the history in the grounds of an old palace at Le Prince Noir
Restaurant, French, Contemporary, $$$
Located in Lormont, just 10 minutes north of Bordeaux’s city centre, Le Prince Noir is set in the grounds of what was once a 14th-century château. The stunning historical architecture boldly contrasts against the tasteful modern interiors of the restaurant itself. Once seated, let chef Vivien Durand and his team guide you through an unforgettable eating experience. Lataillade says: “I love the way the chef works – through each mouthful you can truly feel the love and passion that goes into preparing his dishes.” While the menu changes each month in accordance with the seasons, expect traditional French dishes with an experimental twist. And, as Lataillade explains, the restaurant’s sommelier works hard to provide a “sensational list of fine wines” to complement each dish on the menu.
Michelin-Starred, Unusual, Relaxed, Fine Dining, Romantic
Discover Israeli flavours at Massa
Massa, which means ‘travel’ in Hebrew, takes customers on a culinary journey to experience the tantalising tastes of Israel. Scoring rave reviews with its first restaurant (Miles) and then again with their second venture (Mampuku), owners Gil, Arnaud and Ayako have had another hit with Massa, whose popularity on the Bordeaux food scene is highly deserved. “Here, you’ll feast on falafel, hummus and a selection of different pita offerings – the hummus, in particular, is amazing,” says Lataillade. Equally, the shakshuka (baked eggs with mixed spices, peppers and tomato sauce) is another must-try on the menu.
Another fashionable address on the Bordeaux food and drink scene is Symboise – a bar and restaurant run by young entrepreneurs Thomas, Simon, Lucas and Félix. Here, you’ll enjoy food that arguably lives up to the standard of that served in Michelin-star restaurants, but in a relaxed atmosphere with reasonable prices. Enjoy the refined cuisine of chef Félix, who serves a variety of delicious dishes centred around local meats, fish, seafood and vegetables, with the menu changing by the season. Wines are carefully selected to accompany the menu, and smaller tapas plates, which include vegetarian options, are available too. After filling up on fresh flavours worth raving about, a drinking den hidden behind a grandfather clock will keep you tide over into the early hours with handcrafted cocktails and local wines on offer.
For an authentic taste of Italy in Bordeaux, book a table at Capperi-Pizzaiolo Italiani
“Taking you from Bordeaux to Italy in one mouthful, Capperi is a wonderful (and tiny) pizzeria,” says Lataillade. Owner Bartolo Calderone is passionate about maintaining high standards of authentic, quality pizzas while experimenting with classic and new combinations. Produce is carefully sourced to ensure exceptional taste and excellence, and quality and attention to detail are at the heart of the business’s values. “Capperi is also part of Bordeaux’s Slow Food movement, which works to restore the food industry and the values it imposes on society,” she says. Bordeaux’s Slow Food movement encourages respect for the environment while paying producers a fair price for their work, as well as favouring locally sourced food. All of this is done with the goal of internationally increasing sustainability within the food industry. Order your pizza to go or reserve a table. For its delicious simplicity, the burrata pizza is particularly recommended (tomato sauce, mozzarella, apulian burrata, oregano and extra virgin olive oil). Don’t forget to order the tiramisu for dessert.
For a true taste of Southwest France, book a table at La Brasserie Bordelaise. Serving some of the best steaks in Bordeaux, as well as exquisite fine-cut hams and regional charcuterie boards – including cured meats, country terrine, baby onions, pickles, capers and toasted bread – this restaurant is the perfect reservation for meat lovers. The menu is classic, offering generously portioned dishes such as slow-cooked beef in red wine, delicious duck breast and succulent roast chicken. Downstairs, the wine cellar stocks more than 700 vintage bottles, meaning it’s a wonderful place to try some of the region’s best wine. Booking is recommended, especially for larger groups, and private rooms may also be available upon request.
Experience traditional French culture over the city’s freshest seafood at Chez Jean-Mi
Surrounded by open-air fruit and vegetable stalls, Chez Jean-Mi is a bistrot à huitres (oyster bar) nestled within Bordeaux’s traditional Capucins market. This slightly chaotic location is the perfect little spot for people-watching and (a perhaps boozy) brunch. Jean-Mi offers customers the best seafood platters in town – including its famous oysters and wholesome fish soup – in a casual and welcoming environment. You can’t book a table here, so be sure to arrive early to avoid waiting in line.
L’Originel is treasured by its regulars, who may even be reluctant to share it as a recommendation. Lataillade, however, tells Culture Trip that “you’ll find local and regular customers, like myself, who adore the excellent quality food and dining experience.” Like many restaurants in Bordeaux, the menu is short as it offers seasonal food. Recent dishes have included roast beef in sauce with vegetables, a saddle of rabbit and roasted scallops in cauliflower cream sauce. “In my opinion, L’Originel serves the best-value-for-money food in Bordeaux – I love that it offers French cuisine, with a pinch of creativity, at very reasonable prices,” she says.
Indulge in the sizzling tastes of Singapore at Hutong
Situated on a quiet street in a lively part of town, Hutong offers Bordeaux’s most authentic Singaporean dishes. Lataillade explains: “Before opening Hutong, chef Jason Ang used to cook at a highly rated French restaurant in Bordeaux, Solena. So, he certainly knows a thing or two about French gastronomy… His Singaporean roots, however, are what have made this place so special.” Drawing on a combination of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian influences, the Singaporean food served at Hutong presents a delightful explosion of high-quality and flavoursome food incorporating many colours and flavours. And visitors will also be won over by the impeccable service and relaxed setting. According to Lataillade, “ [The] eggplant has never tasted so good.” Likewise, you won’t regret trying its wontons.