“The Illhaeusern of the north” is how one Alsace-based food and lifestyle writer has described it – Illhaeusern being one of Alsace’s gastronomic hotspots, home, for instance, to the Haeberlin family’s three-star restaurant L’Auberge de l’Ill. Quite a tribute, then, to the charms of La Wantzenau, just north of Strasbourg.
I have chosen to recommend this place to you because of the impressive variety of restaurants it offers, pairing revisited versions of classic Alsace recipes with the creativity of seasoned chefs.
My first recommendation is Le Relais de la Poste. Caroline Van Maenen’s delightful eatery enjoys a certain cachet and has now been recognised with a Michelin star. Chef Bruno Sohn’s cuisine is accompanied by fine wines from the cellar of devoted sommelier Hervé Schmitt.
An Alsace wine makes the perfect partner for the poached duck foie gras with truffle coulis.
Another restaurant not to be missed is the renowned “Les Semailles”. Authentic in all he does, chef Jean Michel Loessel works his creative magic with seasonal produce and is sure to win you over with the best ingredients fresh from the market. His Simmental beef fillet with bone marrow toast, two celeries, and shallots stewed in red wine is simply irresistible!
Fresh, local ingredients
Le Moulin de La Wantzenau is another fine establishment. Philippe Clauss is the man in charge, transforming fresh, local ingredients into sumptuous dishes. When he is not in the kitchen, he likes to spend time in his garden or the forest, where he picks herbs whose virtues he knows inside-out to give his recipes that extra something. The noisettes of young Hohwald venison with green peppercorns marry perfectly with a Pinot Noir or a Burgundy.
There are other eateries worth a visit here, all members of the local hoteliers and restaurateurs’ association (http://ahrw.fr/) which organises a “gourmet walk” through the village every year. These, however, were the first three that came to mind, not only for their cuisine but also for their exceptional kindness and generosity.
One for the foodies
Their staff take pleasure in answering your questions and introducing you to new wines, dishes and recipes, and soon enough, you may find yourself back in the Strasbourg area to savour them all over again.
Alsace is a region where chefs play a major role in shaping visitors’ memories, and La Wantzenau is definitely worth a stop on any food lover’s itinerary.