It might have started back in 1900 as a promotional gimmick to get motorists to put more wear on their tyres by tempting them to drive to exceptional restaurants – but today the Michelin Guide remains the benchmark all chefs aspire to.
Reims boasts three 1* restaurants (Le Millionaire, Le Foch and Racine), a 2* restaurant (Le Parc les Crayères) and a 3* restaurant (L’Assiette Champenoise). And I’m sure they’re incredible but as you can easily spend 100 euros per head, excluding drinks, it’s a bit out of reach for mere mortals like me! But by following my tips you can enjoy Michelin food for the same price you’ll pay for much more standard fare elsewhere.
A fantastic value set menu
Slightly off the beaten track on Rue Bertin, Le Millonaire’s modern dining room is minimalist and stylish, whilst keeping the focus on the food. At just €37 for three courses, the set menu offers the inventive flavour combinations that you’d expect from a chef of this calibre. Ok so there’s only three choices for each course but you get carefully executed and beautifully presented food. And don’t worry about snooty service – we took a kiwi friend for dinner and even though we all ate the set menu, ordered pretty much the cheapest bottle of wine and were definitely casually dressed, they made us feel very welcome.
Le Millenaire, 4-6 Rue Bertin, Reims – Tel. 03 26 08 26 62 – Open Monday to Saturday
Eat at a ‘baby brasserie’
Officially my husband’s “favourite restaurant in Reims…(so far!)” Le Jardin is the more casual brasserie from the team at les Crayeres** Housed in a modern purpose built restaurant in the grounds rather than in the main chateau, the decor is all muted shades and exposed brickwork – and you can watch the team of chefs preparing your meal in the glass fronted kitchen.
Both set menus offer fantastic value for money, either €33 for three courses or €47 for four courses. The food is modern, seasonal french cuisine and the service is perfectly paced. Located a few minutes walk from Veuve Cliquot, Pommery, Villa Demoiselle and Ruinart Le Jardin is a great spot for a memorable lunch before/after a tour and tasting.
Kazuyuki Tanaka at Racine* is a master at fusing french and japanese culinary traditions and ingredients to create a stunning 7+ course tasting menu. Now he has opened Doko Koko, a bistro based on the same philosophy but with much more accessible pricing. It opened in February to good reviews from the local foodie press and personally its on my must do list (…hint hint for a birthday dinner in June??)