A magnificent country house with huge lawns at the back. Drinks are served on the terrace, and a fine selection of Champagnes are on offer at very fair prices, including Taittinger rosé champagne and Grand Siecle at just FF 400 for a bottle, FF 70 for a glass. There are two dining rooms, both very grandly decorated with high ceilings, antiques and heavy curtains. The menu did not vary between the two nights that we stayed.
Nibbles were smoked sardine with red and green peppers and onions (5/10) and a thin slice of toasted French bread. Bread rolls were warm, white, and rather dull (3/10). One starter tried was foie gras done in five styles, served on a gelee with a little lettuce salad (7/10). Another was haricot soup with truffles (6/10). Another (the next night) was mussel soup, packed with mussels in a lemon-flavoured broth (8/10). Main courses sampled were carefully timed sea bass with vegetables and an allegedly coriander sauce, which appeared to be minus the coriander (8/10). John Dory was grilled with diced potatoes in a little olive oil and mashed potatoes (8/10). I tried veal with artichokes and bread sticks, with herbs but without any sauce (8/10).
Cheeses tried were: Munster (8/10), chevre (3/10), a local cheese (6/10), Beaufort (8/10), Camembert (5/10), Epoisses (5/10), Reblochon (4/10), served with a dark rye bread with walnuts (6/10). Chocolate soufflé with griottes (poached with toasted almonds) and vanilla ice cream was 8/10. Another good dessert was banana and coconut caramelised tart with pineapple sorbet and a superfluous half a passion fruit (8/10). Coffee was 9/10. Petit-fours sampled were: chocolate sponge (6/10), fruit tart with raspberry and pineapple (8/10), a tuile (9/10), chocolate mousse (6/10), Madeleine with a crispy exterior (6/10), nut fudge (6/10), a milk chocolate with nuts (6/10) and a dark chocolate truffle (8/10).
Wines tried were Trimbach Tokay Pinot Gris Reserve 1990 at FF 304, two glasses of 1987 Chateau d’Yquem at 130 FF per glass. Service was very courteous and efficient, though rather cold and remote (9/10). Both menus offered featured prices, so there was none of the archaic practice of the female diner seeing no prices. The total bill was FF 7,801 for two nights, with room at FF 1,820 per night, and food and wine FF 1,989 tonight for two people.
On the second evening we tried a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal at just FF 606 (and some more Yquem), The same nibbles arrived. This time I tried a fricassee of girolles, a generous mound of girolles in a mushroom broth with chives. For main course I had lobster roaster with spinach and chopped vegetables with a thin lobster sauce (7/10). Stella had John Dory on a bed of finely chopped Mediterranean vegetables with olive oil, with finely sliced artichokes in a superfluous fennel butter in breadcrumbs (a la Chicken Kiev) which was too greasy (5/10).
We skipped cheese this evening (such restraint) and tried apples croustillant, which were apples in filo pastry, brushed with orange marmalade and served with lemon sorbet in a thin pastry shell (7/10). Chocolate soufflé with griottes, toasted pine nuts and vanilla ice cream was well made (7/10). For petit-fours we tried a Madeleine (6/10), almond biscuit with pistachio (5/10), choux bun with chocolate filling (6/10), chocolate cup with cream, raspberry, strawberry and pineapple (6/10), a tuile (8/10) and chocolates as on the previous night. There was a coffee menu. Food and wine tonight cost FF 2,172.
Overall Boyer was a disappointment, despite the wonderful setting. It is costly (other than the very fairly priced wine list) and the food never exceeded 8/10, and was really around 6/10 for most of the time. The room was very grand and had a nice balcony, but then so should it at this price. This is a lot of money for this level of cooking. Three Michelin stars are just nonsense for a restaurant coasting along like this, (and indeed Michelin finally realised this in 2003 and demoted it).