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Cotes St Jacques

14, Faubourg de Paris, Joigny, 89300, France

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Editor's note: this restaurant kept its three Micheln stars up until the February 2015 guide, when it was demoted.

This restaurant also has rooms, and indeed provided the best room (number 21) of our summer trip around France in 1996. The hotel is in two parts. The reception and dining room and some bedrooms are connected by an underground passage lined with Roman flagstones to the remaining bedrooms, breakfast room, swimming pool and sauna, which are across a road. The breakfast room and our bedroom overlooked the river, whereas the dining room is on the other side of the road, away from the river. The room was vast, with a huge stone fireplace, a balcony overlooking the river, a large bed and bathroom including a proper shower with body jets, a Bang & Olufsen TV and a lovely Chinese rug.

The dining room had pillars, modern paintings, modern sculptures and overlooks a tiny garden at the back. Nibbles were marinated salmon with herbs and Chablis (17/20), and scrambled egg with duck liver (18/20). Bread was either brown crunchy bread (18/20) or white (also 18/20). To start, Breton lobster was roasted with girolles and served with petit pois, sweet garlic and Szechuan pepper (well hidden) and sadly the lobster was rather overcooked (16/20 only). Langoustines were better, as they were tenderly cooked and served with a wide array of vegetables: baby carrots, onions, spring onions, broad beans, peas, toasted sesame seeds and asparagus, all in a spicy dressing (19/20).

I had a whole duckling roasted with fruit (redcurrants, juniper, cherries), served with green vegetables, spinach, broad beans, spring onion and carrots, and a little mixed leaf salad (20/20). My wife had roast cod with finely chopped Mediterranean vegetables in olive oil, with mashed potatoes, three slices of tomato and some deep fried sage (18/20).  Cheeses tried were: chevre (18/20), a St Marcellin (17/20), Munster (18/20), Epoisses (18/20), Brie (19/20), St Nectaire (18/20), Brillat-Savarin (18/20) and a local peppery cheese (10/20). This was offered with a lovely white fruit bread (18/20) and fresh whole walnuts (19/20).

For dessert, I had passion fruit soufflé (19/20), while my wife had vanilla cream, caramelised mango, mango sorbet, wild strawberries and a mango sauce (18/20). There were also some lychee, strawberry and passion fruit sorbets, which were all magnificent (20/20). Coffee was 18/20, and was accompanied by lemon macaroon (18/20), fruit sponge (18/20), tart with raspberry, strawberry and pineapple (18/20), chocolate cup with chocolate truffle and cherry in Kirsch (19/20), three types of chocolate (18/20), and a caramel chocolate (16/20). We drank Le Forest Chablis at FF 235, the room cost FF 1,950, the Meal FF 2,034 and the total bill for two FF 4204. Service was very fine, with a friendly waiter, and the second menu duly had prices. A lovely meal in a pretty location.

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  • Michael Cass

    Stopped at Joigny on the return from the slopes of Chamonix. Arrived in time to be shown our nice if a little modern (even confused?) rooms on the 'hill-side' of this 2 part hotel. Made use of the lovely well appointed spa before our meeting in the library-bar for dinner. The dining room is now in two parts, both on the 'river-side' of the hotel. Very warm neutral colours with framed dried vegetation being the main decoration. The menu offers the usual carte, a changing chef's recommendation, a menu gourmande and a menu surprise. Two of the four of us were tempted by the menu-surprise but the remaining two vetoed this! So the menu Gourmande it was. Aperitif of the special cocktail was cremant a Bourgogne flavoured with herbs which was lovely. The selection of 4 tastes included a deep fried frogs leg with green sauce (lovely), a tiny roll of salmon wrapped cream cheese (very ordinary). Amuse bouche was a razor clam in its own juice & shell with a brunoise of vegetables on a bed of tangily salty samphire. very nice. The first plate was a stunning roulade of foie gras with a crust both savoury and sour. We argued about its make up and thought possibly some form of citric or malic acid crystals. It was served with brioche toast and a myrtille coulis. The following dishes were a choice of skate wing taken off the bone and served in a Thai-style broth of coconut milk. The two who had this loved it but for my taste was too unauthentic (a little lacking balance of heat). We had one of Msr Laurin's signature dishes: 'The Creation of a Dish; A Study of Oysters'. This was a side tray of 4 small dishes containing in each the accumulating components making up the final dish served on the main plate. The components appeared to be a porridge made with oyster juice, green chlorophyll, a poached oyster and a fine crisp of seaweed. Visually lovely and a stunning combination of taste and texture. Next came an arresting dish of king scallop layered with black truffle, bi-valved and served on a bed of rich white risotto. Sublime! The squab was simply pan roasted and i think jokingly we weer given steak knives to eat it with! I have never had such tender juicy pigeon before. A spoon was better employed. The rich glaze offsetting the sweet flesh well. Cheese was all excellent and required a walk around the terrace for 10 minutes following! Then came a slightly confusing interlude of what appeared to be a tray of petit fours and a mango pancake. The pancake was eaten (nothing special) and the petit fours we all put aside for coffee. The two deserts were a pastiche of hazelnut, with a nut ice cream on a bed of hazelnut butter and a hazelnut praline. Great if you love hazelnuts but a little unbalanced i felt. The second was much better: a skewer of pineapple and banana grilled with a sliver of chilli which provided a wonderful heat. This served with the thinnest sliver of pineapple fritter possible and a sorbet. Service was excellent although the constant offer of (beautiful) breads was a little oppressive. The sommelier was very good at finding a very fair glass of Jurancon for the foie gras, a Meursault for the two fish courses and two (greedy, but it was lovely)Aloxe-Corton for the squab and cheese. Back to the library for coffee where our 'petit fours' did not reappear. we were told they had been discarded! Our faces gave the right expression of horror as 5 minutes of bustling ensued and a selection (minus the chocolate tart, which was presumably the staff's favourite!) was reproduced. Coffee and tea OK, nothing more. All in all a lovely meal and one for next years trip.

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