The days of Baselworld are hectic. Having attended the show 19 out of the last 20 years, I have grown kinda used to the routine. And when the show ends, its time for a little bit of relaxation. Meals in Basel, especially during the show are exhorbitantly priced. A simple pasta dish, not particularly well cooked could cost CHF 25. A sausage at the booth outside the Messe is a good CHF 9 for a hot dog. But if you are willing to travel a bit, great meals can be had at good value prices. A good friend, Jeff Kingston recommended a restaurant in Zellenberg, about an hour’s drive from Baselworld’s Messe, and being in France would be much less expensive than in Switzerland.
As a detour from our usual watch coverage, we bring you this quick review of a dinner we had at the Maximillien, in Zellenberg, France. The restaurant boasts of One Michelin Star, and is situated in a very beautiful country road by a vineyard. At this time of the year, the road leading to it had cherry trees in full bloom, like Sakura in Japan! And the setting in the middle of the vineyards are magnificent.
We arrived for dinner, starting at 7:30pm. The menu offered three formulae: a €52 two course menu with sea bass as the main course, and a €72 three course menu with lamb as the main course. We elected for the three course.
The first course was a carpacio of langoustine, served with a langoustine cappucino by the side. We were advised to drink the cappucino first.
On the side of the first course, was the langoustine carpaccio.
As a second course, we had seared scallops with black truffle
The scallops were superbly fresh, very interesting especially considering that Zellenberg, being in Alsace, is quite a distance from the nearest coast.The creamy foam was a nice contrast to the light crunchiness o the black truffle.
For the main course, roast milk lamb.
And for desserts, a white cheese with sorbet.
Overall, the meal was excellent. The chef did not try to outdo himself with every more creative dishes, but stuck to good, fresh ingredients, and cooked well. Every dish was great. And considering that the three course meal, inclusive of multiple amuse bouche and a petit four serving at € 72 was at a good price. Especially considering that the price is now roughly CHF 72, which might get perhaps us some fried baby chicken and creamed spinach (admittedly very good chicken) at Emilio’s in Zurich .
The only small complaint we had was that the service, though polite and efficient (we arrived at 7:30pm and left at 9:30pm…for a French restaurant in France, that is quite an achievement!), it was rather cold. The owner stopped by to chat a bit, but all she was interested when she found out we had come from Baselworld, was why her business had seen a decrease over the same fair period last year. The chef did not make his appearance. The restaurant was not full, and we had expected him to come by as this practice is fairly customary in a Michelin Starred restaurant. And the Sommelier was a bit curt and we felt a tinge of arrogance in dismissing our first choice of wines. Though, as we accepted his recommendation, he certainly knew his wines and food, as they were superb. We each had a flute of champagne as an apéritif, a small bottle of white wine from the region, and a glass of Burgundy red for the mains. We had to limit the wine consumption as we had a long drive after dinner. And inclusive of the wines, water, taxes and tip, the total came up to just below € 130 per pax.
19a rte d’Ostheim, 68340 Zellenberg, France
p.s. Chief Editor’s note:This is our first experimental post on a horological lifestyle article. Do let us know if you would like to see more lifestyle, non watch features like this.