The French restaurant La Table de Montaigne is probably one of the main reasons why I started going to fine dining restaurants on my travels. Before, I used to skip them, eating mostly street food or in cheaper bistros, which I still do to some extent. It was only a quick and unplanned trip to Bordeaux that opened up the world of fine dining to me. First French, and then, which I didn’t know at the time, others as well.
I was alone for a week in the beautiful Bordeaux, a city literally packed with monuments and ubiquitous excellent wine, staying through AirBnB in a dark but stylish little room in an old house with a single window in the ceiling, and I wanted to go to a restaurant for something really interesting, good. At the same time, however, I wanted to maintain my unwritten rule of “excellent value for money”.
I picked out several highly-rated restaurants specializing in French cuisine that met this criterion. But they were all full. The more I searched, the more I realized that for virtually the same price, I couldn’t get a last-minute spot in a great restaurant, only worse ones were available and that too for the same money or even more expensive. But I was already spoiled by the information and photos from the better ones.
This is where my regular gastronomic preparation before departure probably began, exploring where to go, booking in advance, studying local specialties, and looking forward to the food. It could also be due to La Table de Montaigne, its tasting menu, and its absolutely professional staff.
I didn’t have a reservation; I came straight from the street, blindly. I didn’t know if I was dressed properly, after all, it was summer and I was wearing a breezy white long-sleeved shirt and dark shorts. “You are always dressed correctly, sir,” the restaurant manager answered my question and seated me with a pleasant smile on his face.
And that opened my journey to better restaurants.
(The five-course tasting menu cost 64 EUR, the restaurant is listed in the French Michelin Guide).
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