Europe and Middle East, France, Isère, Newsletter, Restaurant Reviews, Vienne

Reviewed: Le Cottage Bistro, Chonas-L’amballan, France

21/09/2022 by .
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Andy Mossack discovers there is gourmet dining amongst the tranquillity of a tiny village near Vienne, France.

Funny how a day can pan out. In the early morning, I joined Michelin-starred chef Phillipe Girardon mooching around Vienne’s famed Saturday food market, schmoozing his favourite suppliers and hotel guests as he collected ingredients for that night’s service. Later that afternoon I found myself seated at an outdoor table on the terrace of Phillipe’s Le Cottage hotel bistro, perhaps indulging in one or two items from that morning’s haul.

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There is something entirely decadent about sampling a fine lunch and sipping chilled French wine ‘en plein air’ particularly on a sunny summer’s afternoon after watching the great man go about his business earlier.

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Phillipe’s Domaine de Clairefontaine hotel and restaurant estate has been the Girardon family home for generations, having formerly been the 17th-century rest home of the archbishops of Lyon. It’s set in a 3-hectare private estate, surrounded by 300-year-old trees and freshwater ponds. Having had a bit of a personal tour from Phillipe, including a peek inside his kitchen to see where the magic happens, I could see it was a glorious place to stay and dine and something for me to look forward to experiencing at a future date. For now, though, I had to contend with lunching at his neighbouring property, Le Cottage, a former Dauphinois farmhouse now restored to a chic contemporary hotel and bistro.

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It was a typically unhurried weekend lunchtime with plenty of well-heeled locals on display under the terrace sun shades.

I kicked off with La Planchette de charcuteries a very impressive tray of cold cuts including pancetta, chorizo, Ibérico ham, Isere caillettes, jambon and some whirls of homemade herb butter and pickled gherkins (€18). My thoughts immediately went to the market stall of Philippe’s favourite farmer who had proudly shown me photos of his herds that morning. This was high-quality charcuterie and I never doubted it for a second.

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My dining neighbours were clearly enjoying their choices of wine with their meals as the laughter volume switch went up a notch while plenty of toasting took place.

I was admiring my own glass of Cotes du Rhone from a vineyard on the banks of that very river flowing just a few kilometres away. Somehow, knowing that made it taste even better.

I was shaken from my reverie with the triumphant arrival of my main course Le Bœuf Charolais (€30) A beef fillet with Madagascan pepper sauce, potato millefeuille, and green beans. And I’m happy to report, it lived up to the billing. A perfect example of farm-to-table at its best.

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Vienne is such an impressive foody city, right on the banks of the Rhone and just a short drive from Lyon, yet it is overlooked by so many tourists. Its Roman remains are some of the best preserved in the world and the restored amphitheatre plays host to an annual jazz festival that could rival Montreux. Yet, up in the village of Chonas-L’amballan, the tranquil countryside is a world away from Vienne’s hustle and bustle. It’s a corner of France that still retains its authentic rustic charm. That said, Domaine de Clairefontaine and Le Cottage counterintuitively showcase the glamour and style of French fine dining which makes this idyllic spot all the more memorable.

All images except featured image (C) Andy Mossack

Tell me more about Le Cottage Bistro

Le Cottage, 616 Marsh Road, 38121 Chonas-L’amballan

T: +33 4 74 58 83 28 E:






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