Orangery Park, Strasbourg, France

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Note that the chef is now Eric Westerman, Antoine Westerman's son, and in 2011 had just one Michelin star rather than the three stars that his father held at the time of my visit.

The restaurant is set in a park called l’Orangerie. The building has been a restaurant for the last hundred years. The kitchens are on the ground floor and the main dining rooms on the first floor with a lovely view over the park.  There is a modern conservatory and two more traditional smaller rooms. The set menu of fish and shellfish was 680 FF per person, which we both had.  Service was very professional, with the only jarring note being the wife of the chef, Vivienne Westerman, wafting around the dining room with a ghastly and very prominent perfume. We even got a tour of the kitchens, which rather worryingly featured a variety of cracked and chipped items.

The menu started with aubergine tempura with sweet sauce (20/20), tomato stuffed with goats cheese and olives (16/20), liver pate tart (20/20), mackerel on an indeterminate green sauce on a finger of toast (16/20).  For bread, there was baguette (16/20), beer bread (18/20), and stale country bread (11/20). Next was mackerel with tortilla crisps and vegetable puree, with tiny pieces of black olives, red peppers and chive vinaigrette. This was followed by red mullet (which bizarrely differed wildly between our two plates, my wife's being 18/20 but mine only 13/20, in both our opinions), served on a bed of very tender baby squid, artichokes and parsley (16/20). Next were goujons of sole with girolles and mousselines in a thin, somewhat salty mushroom stock (16/20).

Next up was lobster serve with lukewarm, buttery, slightly soft carrots (15/20); this dish allegedly contained coriander and spice, but they were beyond detection even to my wife's bloodhound-like sense of smell. Main course was John Dory (substituted for sea bass on the menu), served with a single roast clove of garlic, caramelised onions, roast potatoes and a slightly salty but otherwise good reduced fish stock (18/20).

Three goats cheeses were on offer (13/20), plus Munster (20/20), Brie (16/20), Beaufort (18/20), Tomme de Savoie (16/20) and Champagne cheese (18/20), all served with “caraway seeds”, which were actually cumin seeds, and brown bread (16/20). Dessert was cherry clafoutis (16/20), served with lovely cherry sauce (20/20) and fresh cherries (18/20), as well as excellent pistachio ice cream (19/20). More desserts followed: red fruit soup (16/20), chocolate mouse (20/20), bitter chocolate tart (19/20), chocolate sorbet (20/20), an oversweet vanilla ice cream (16/20) and some fresh grapefruit (18/20).

For petit fours we had: a Madeleine (16/20), a chocolate sponge (16/20), cinnamon tuile (18/20), apricot tart (16/20), redcurrent tart (untried), a sponge of ordinary texture (13/20), chocolate with unfortunately stale almonds (11/20) and a good chocolate truffle (18/20). Coffee was 18/20.  For wine we had Trimbach Tokay Pinot Gris 1990 at FF 260, and a glass of sweet Gewurztraminer (but not vendange tardive) at FF 60. The total bill was FF 2075 for two. My very knowledgeable friend Jeffrey Ng had an excellent meal here, so perhaps we just encountered an off-night.

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  • Dr Wilbur Hughes

    Buerehiesel Mr Hayler, you must go there again. This is not a restaurant but a memorable experience. So pleasant to me as a single diner, I shall never forget it. Dr Wilbur Hughes