Saturday, 31 May 2014

4 : Le Relais d'Ozenay in Ozenay

Ozenay is a small village close to the metropolis of Tournus, about 11 miles or 25 minutes driving from here. It has a cute Romanesque church with an interesting interior, but I will not elaborate on this since this blog is supposed to handle culinary aspects, not architectural ones.

The church of Ozenay
We had heard very flattering reports, and not only from guests, but even from a columnist in a Dutch quality newspaper.
Although we normally have quite a strong preference for smaller down to earth restaurants, we also have often thought "wouldn't it be nice, if only for once, to really splash out?". At the end of 2012 we were invited to a meal in a slightly more posh restaurant then our usual one, and we were given the choice. We were in doubt between La Table de Chapaize and Le Relais d'Ozenay, and because the menus and the carte in Ozenay looked as if we would have a bit more choice than in Chapaize, we proposed Ozenay.
We arrived around 19h30, and although that is quite early according to local standards, the restaurant filled up quite quickly. The interior was tastefully decorated. The walls were adorned with various ceramic "paintings" made by a local artisan from Martailly-lès-Brancion, and the patterns on these "paintings" were in perfect harmony with the way the rather "Nouvelle Cuisine" dishes were made up and decorated.

A "painting"
When we were about to order we were a bit disappointed with the unexpectedly limited choice. We had set our mind on a not so expensive menu, and the € 33 menu was the same price or slightly cheaper than the remaining main dishes alone on the à la carte part of the menu. And since this € 33 menu had only 2 different starters and main courses to choose from, the choice was all of a sudden roughly the same as in Chapaize. For starters one could choose between a butternut soup and a smoked salmon dish, and for the main course there was a choice between a risotto dish with soul and a lamb dish. For the person who is allergic to fish and shellfish the choice was reduced to choosing between 1 starter and between 1 main course. The same applied to the person who does not like pumpkins in any form or shape, nor lamb. Upgrading to a € 38 dinner was also no option, because these menus could only be ordered when every member in the party ordered the same menu. The meal started with an amuse and closed off with a number of cheeses and a rather obscure desert where the recognisable bit was a small piece of pistachio cake.

Le Relais d'Ozenay
Unfortunately the wine we chosen from the carte with our meal, a red Henri Lafarge Pinot Noir was not available anymore, and we had to resort to a red Henri Lafarge Mâcon. The food was beautifully laid out and presented, the service very friendly and efficient. My starter (salmon) was nice, but not exceptionally, however those who had ordered the butternut soup were very enthusiastic about it. There was more consensus about the main courses. I thought the risotto and the soul quite bland, and those who had ordered lamb had a similar comment about their dish.
The cheeses were a nice selection of goat's cheeses, a blue cheese and two runny cheeses, of which the Époisses was not bad at all. I certainly was not thrilled with the desert, but I have to be honest: I am simply not a sweet tooth or a desert type of person. Having said that, most people at our table were also not terribly impressed with it.

The interior
The food was mediocre to good, although I thought the quality / price ratio a bit disappointing.
I would prefer a wider choice of dishes (I think 2 fish main dishes and 3 meat main dishes à la carte is not exactly a big choice).
The ambiance and the service were impeccable.
My preference was and most likely will always be a restaurant with a wider, although not such an exclusive choice. However, that might have something to do with the lack of snob appeal I am suffering from....

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