Today's gastronomic adventures takes us to Maison Fatien, a place which I had previously blogged about before (somewhere in the archives, go see). Basically the thing about this place is that the owner of this place owns a vineyard in Burgundy and thus they naturally sell their own wines from that vineyard (some vineyards in Beaune, some in Volnay, etc). They also own a hotel in the middle of Beaune, so I'm told. Anyway their goal is to have a really rustic French Bistro somewhat like the type you get back in France. I mean I've been to Burgundy and that place is replete with little bistros like this one. Extremely quaint and charming and, of course, stocked with the goodness of natural produce of the region.
A little word about Burgundy, since I've been researching alot on this topic. Burgundy is basically a region in the east-central of France, southeast from Paris. The wine regions are divided into three (well, actually, four), namely Chablis in the north, the Cote de Nuits (which runs from Dijon to just north of Beaune), the Cote de Beaune (which runs from Beaune to further south), and Beaujolais (which is further south of that). The Cote de Nuits is quintessential Burgundy territory containing all the well-known vineyards such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Romanee-Conti, Chambolle-Musigny, and Nuit St Georges. Driving down from Dijon to Beaune down the Route de Grand Cru (which I was fortunate enough to do in summer of 2010) brings you past all these communes and vineyards, which are all adjacent to each other along this route. From Gevrey-Chambertin, you'd get to Chambolle-Musigny, then Morey-St-Denis, etc.
Anyway, I digress. Maison Fatien at Duxton Hill is a fine example of a place that sells homely French food. I have met the proprietor of the place before, a really friendly man whose aim is just to provide good French home-style cuisine at relatively affordable prices. So you don't have to bust your wallet just to eat here. The place is extremely charming as well - seating is on the second floor and there's a whole roof-light atrium in the middle which brings in light from the top.
We were served with some bread, as is customary with French restaurants. Nothing to shout about, but at least they were warm and the butter was nicely soft.
Anyway my dining companion S and I had a starter of Foie Gras de Canard, which is a classic as appetizer as French food goes. This one was done very competently, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way I like my foie gras to be. Paired with some pears at the bottom and it managed to cut through the richness. (8/10).
My dining companion S had the boeuf bourguignon which is an extremely traditional French dish hailing from Burgundy - seriously, every place in Burgundy sells this dish (I've actually tried cooking this before, with differing results - the first time was very good). It's basically beef cooked Burgundian-style which means stewed in red wine. However, you cannot just pour the red wine in - and stew it with the beef - it'd almost have no flavour. I'm not sure how Maison Fatien does their version, but I remember, from the recipe book by Julia Childs, that it involves sauteeing bacon to get the fat, and then coating the beef with flour, and then searing the beef in that bacon fat. And afterwards, to "smoke" the vegetables and then the wine and the beef stock goes in. Anyway I digress. This one was absolutely delicious [if a tad salty] - lots of savoury flavours, mushrooms, small onions, and tender tender beef. Yummy. It tastes exactly like the beef bourguignon that I had in Burgundy [if my memory serves me correctly]. Yummy stuff. (8.5/10 (minus 0.5 for being too salty))
I had the duck confit, or confit de canard, which was quite good as well. Very crispy skin which I love - this is the way the skin should be, just so crisp that there's practically no fat and makes it a joy to eat. However the meat could have been a bit more tender - this was acceptable and somewhat like those duck confit that I had in paris, but I guess with the new sous vide cooking methods some places have managed to make the duck confit meat far more tender than this. But then again I'm not complaining - this was done pretty well. (8/10)
Overall, Maison Fatien is a great place to have homely, authentic, French food without busting your budget. For example all these dishes cost $80++ which is pretty alright concerning today's inflated prices. The mains are about $20 to $30 which is still quite decent value. Highly recommended.