Slow food in Beaune

Beaune is beautiful.

It’s small, localised, brimming with excellent Burgundy and has a very sweet little walled city centre. It’s so sweet that we didn’t mind that it took us seven hours to get there from Normandy, we nearly ran out of petrol after our naughty Nav Girl told us to exit somewhere in the middle of somewhere sounding like two sneezes and a cough and had a mild tantrum consisting of seven, non sensical “perform a u turn now”‘s.

No Nav Girl, we shall not. Shush now.

I’ve always firmly believed that if you don’t have anything helpful to say you shouldn’t say anything at all. It’s going to be one of my life long quests to teach Nav-girl this.

Our accomodation for the evening; Hotel de la Poste was charming- being one of the ones I’d selected it’s also at the higher end of our designated price bracket.
Our chosen restaurant for the evening was Les Ton Tons. It’s featured menu, rolling in at four courses for 24 euro was a guided tour of all things local and regional. It was an active study in ‘slow food’; produce not travelling excessive distances, celebrating what differentiates the region from its neighbors and ensuring there has been adequate time and care in the food’s creation.

Les Ton Tons is a small space that can probably fit 30 in the rectangular room. There’s one middle aged man on the floor who keeps ducking down the cellar stairs that fold out from the middle of the floor to pluck good vintages for regulars. I can only spy one person in the kitchen and our friend on the floor occasionally dips into the back to help her out.

The local aperitif is a Commonade, a twist on a classic Kir, using red wine and Cassis. If you’re not careful, it’ll knock you off your chair before you’ve even begun to settle into it. We order two, but the Hungry One has to help me finish.

The tour of local favourites starts with a meander through a snail filled garden, with escargots swimming in a leaf-green herb soup, proppped against a cheesy, chive speckled warm choux pastry that’s dense and airy all at the same time.

The classic beef bourgingnon on potato mash to follow is richer than a Grammer boy who became a banker and the cheese course of local Bresse blue melted on a lightly flavoured pain depices ( a spice loaded bread) is a perfect twist on cheese on toast. Somehow it’s nutty and spicy and soft and prickly. That, a glass of red and a fire is about all you need in my book for a decent dinner. I’m sure my mother would agree.

Dessert is delightfully light- a small mound of pear sorbet with a little cassis river trickling down the sides. The absolute ‘pear-ey’ ness of the sorbet takes you three bites to realise. It’s so true, it’s almost fake, like the overblown caricature of oranges you get in fake orange flavoured lollies. Here the flavour is incredible and all natural I’m sure- there’s even the chunks of pear that didn’t quite make it through the blender to prove it.

But there’s something worth remembering about slow food. It’s not fast.

After the zip and swirl of Paris and churning at 130 km an hour down the motorway to get to Beaune, we haven’t quite adjusted to local time scales.

There’s twenty people in the restaurant, each having four courses, plus wine. There’s one waiter/sommelier/maitre d/ busboy and one chef.

That equation comes to around three and a bit hours to be served and consume four courses.

Ordinarily, that would be fine. We can’t blame Les Ton Tons for leaving us to linger.

How were they to know this was one of the few nights we were in a hotel room with enough stars tht we wanted to hurry back to enjoy it?

Les Ton Tons
22 Faubourg Madeleine 21200 Beaune

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