Lunchtime finesse

Restaurant Review: La Casserole

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

3 March 2018
You want to eat lunch (very) well in Strasbourg?
I get plenty of requests on where to dine in this lovely Alsatian capital, and just before the snow started falling yesterday afternoon, I revisited La Casserole at 24 rue des Juifs – Tel +33 (0)3 88 36 49 68 – and can report with great pleasure that it is a darn good place to eat.
First you get a discretely elegant dining ambiance. You enter what feels like a private dining room, all tastefully decorated, with comfortable yet colorful chairs and discrete distances between dining guests. A perfect place to hold a private wine tasting, I caught myself thinking.
But what about the food?
About 10 years ago, I had dinner here, when it held a one star Michelin rating, and left feeling somewhat let down. The food was not as refined as I had been expecting but the prices were very refined in the sense that they were (very high) and “refined”…
Back then, I was invited by two colleagues to dine there. They had lost a bet with me that Barack Obama would be elected president in 2008. And I still have – nearly 10 years later – a couple of outstanding bets with regard to Obama’s 2008 victory involving free Sauternes from a producer and a certain other matter from an old friend, but these are other stories.

La Casserole has been under new ownership in the last few years, and I had been meaning to check it out.
As it turned out over lunch, I discovered that Chef Jean Roc has a refined touch in everything he prepared, as a I glanced to see what other clients had ordered: the appearance of the menu items echoed the elegant interior design. So it comes as no surprise that the chef is both an opera lover and a fan of decoration.
Before he came to this place, Roc had been restaurant director at the famous Au Crocodile under Philippe Bohrer (2011-2015).
OK, the lunch menu including an €11 glass of fine Riesling (that was a bit too high), coffee and a bottle of Lisbeth water ended up … €60 euros per person, but it was rather worth that price of admission, a feeling I did not have with my previous experience at this same restaurant, albeit under a previous chef and owner.
Let’s just keep this in mind for a special occasion lunch, shall we? Or if you want to have a special dining experience while visiting the city.

This Emile Beyer “Saint Jacques” 2016 Riesling came off rich yet vibrant.

A restaurant has to be a bit daring to limit its lunch menu (39€ for entée, plat et dessert) to a single choice for the entrée and two for the main dish. But before we get there, let’s talk about an amuse bouche that included velvety smooth pumpkin soup and fresh crab meat and avocado in a thin filo. Delicious both!

Delectable main course

All good omens with which to start things.
The starter – which indeed is called entrée in French – was delectable oeuf de poule (an organic egg) covered in Alsatian Pinot Noir and served with roasted champignons and delicious “légumes croquants.
The egg, soft boiled, was great with a choice of three warmed breads, whether with olives, potatos or regular: much scooping up pleasure. The vegetables? Very fresh and savory.
Our main course choice from the set lunch menu was the Filet de Maigre, crème de boudin noir au cidre, chou rave et pommes rôties et streussel aux noix as my work colleague and I opted for a glass of Emile Beyer Riesling, both opulent and vivacious. The fish was of an excellent texture and fresh tasting, and it went very well with the boudin noir cream, which echoed the richness in the wine. 
The desserts were great, consisting of homemade vanilla custard and ice cream with a hot dark chocolate coulis: simple but effective.
Of course they brought mignardises to go with the coffee, including one of the best homemade sweet delicacies I’ve enjoyed at a restaurant in a long while. While the chocolate candy they made at the restaurant was very good, their concoction of a cream with cognac enrobed in white chocolate and topped with a coulis of passion fruit was out of this world, and it convinced me to actually write this review. Yes, I have a sweet tooth.
But you do not have to take just my word for it, that this restaurant is worth your while. Reinforcement to my positive review comes in high collective ratings from both The Fork and Trip Advisor.

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