They say good things come in small packages, but really we all know that’s not true. Two things I’ve learnt over the years when travelling is never trust TripAdvisor reviews which tell you something is bad and never ever judge a book by its cover, especially if the place you’re visiting looks like it’s from that book. That’s exactly how we felt after arriving at Chateau Grand Barrail Hotel. As one Instagram blogger said, “Disney – eat your heart out”.
If you followed my stay on social media at this 19th century grand hotel, then you’ll know just how much I loved it. But what I didn’t let slip was really just how much I loved its restaurant. From our entire journey through Bordeaux, this meal was one we’ll not be forgetting. It’s also located in the middle of the vineyards of Bordeaux and surrounded by some of the top wine-producing Chateau’s. Not to mention the incredible dining room. Adorned with classic French decor and the most stunning multi-coloured stained glass windows I’ve ever set my eyes upon. It’s mirrors, chandeliers and overall design were all inspired by the Petit Trianon Palace.
We dined from the restaurants Terroir Menu. Terroir is the word used within the wine world to describe the environment that the grapes for wine are grown in and thus different soil types and climates impart different flavours on the wine. Here in the restaurant it’s used to represent a menu changing through the seasons, designed and constructed by head chef Romain Gondras. To kick off our meal we delved into a gorgeously simple, but flavoursome ratatouille and a terrine of dreams. A compressed medley of foie gras and Jerusalem artichoke, served alongside some soft baby leeks and a sweet balsamic reduction.
Our main course was one I was perhaps a little sceptical on first, given I’ve never really had scallops, served on a piece of bread and with a side of risotto – but we were blown away. It was one of those dishes you simply need to try to know just what enjoyment it gave us. The generous portion of four large scallops, all expertly cooked and seasoned perfectly, were given a touch more saltiness from the belotta ham. The bowl of risotto, laced with parmesan was the best I’ve ever eaten. If you don’t believe, then you’ll just have to visit for yourself.
Being in France you’d expect the cheese to be epic, and it was very nice as part of our four course menu – but a little more imagination could be put into this dish as the flavour is all here. Perhaps those nuts could be served as a crumble and the apricots a little more juicy. The spoonful of chutney however shouldn’t be changed, instead bottled and sold all to me.
Star dish of our entire meal (not counting those scallops of course) was dessert. Spheres of vanilla mousse, clementine segments and chocolate domes filled with a zesty sorbet. The whole thing was then served on a thinly sliced ginger bread. The perfect end to our meal.
We had such a perfect evening dining here at Château Grand Barrail and it really couldn’t be faulted. Presentation wise you may think there could be room for improvement as it’s all very rustic, but for me I wouldn’t change a thing. Flavour is the focus here and you get so much of it and at such good value. The same terroir menu would set you back a mere 55 euros and if you’re on a budget they have menus for every wallet. Château Grand Barrail is yet another place which is making me fall in love with Bordeaux even more and I can’t wait to come back someday.