Ma Cuisine – Beaune
You won’t find this restaurant in the Michelin Red Guide; yet, Ma Cuisine is universally recommended through word of mouth as THE place for solid local Burgundy cuisine. The restaurant is named after the book by Auguste Escoffier, the culinary legend many deem as the father of French cuisine, and its proprietors, the husband and wife team of Pierre and Fabienne, even share his last name (no relation I believe). However, Ma Cuisine breaks from the norm with an unusual case of role reversal: the husband covers the front of the house while the wife commands the kitchen.
As we step inside the modest-sized restaurant, we are greeted by chatter in a familiar twang. We look around in surprise. Not a single Frenchman. On our right is a couple from Texas, on our left is a party of six from California’s wine country, and the remaining two thirds is a large contingent of Asian Americans with kids and nanny in tow. “Where are all the locals?” I think to myself.
The farmhouse tables, wooden chairs, blackboard menus and “no-decor” decor may lull people into thinking that their pocketbook is safe here. That notion flies out the window when they open the wine list, a veritable book crammed with grand cru wines in fine vintages. A closer look at the blackboard also induces some sticker shock since some entrees cost nearly 40 euros. Nevertheless, since we only had a sandwich for lunch, we splurge on four appetizers and an entree to share.
Jambon Persille Maison. A local specialty made with chunks of ham and parsley set in aspic.
Escargot Traditionnels. Snails drowning in parsley and butter. I can’t say these were better than the ones we had at Les Pissenlit in Nancy some years back, but they’re ok.
Compote de Lapin a l’estragon. Cold poached rabbit shredded and tossed in a tarragon vinaigrette and punctuated with thin slices of raw onions. This is an assertive dish!
Salade de Ris de Veau Poele. A generous serving of sauteed sweetbreads for this dish straddling the line between appetizer and entree.
Cote de Veau Braise aux Champignon. A veal chop pan fried but still pink, chopped into bite-sized pieces and topped with mushrooms. It’s served with mashed potatoes and a tomato gratin.
Fromage blanc topped with granulated sugar and served with with fresh cream.
I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but this almond cake really hits the spot. Caramelized slivers of almond give a nice contrasting crunch to the none-too-sweet sponge cake.
Overall, good unpretentious food in a convivial atmosphere.