M had lubed the car, filled the tank and we were off on a gentle two-hour drive to Joigny, along the banks of the Yonne in Northern Burgundy (a 1 hour and 15 minute train ride from Paris (Bercy) was another option.)
We pulled up in front of the entrance to La Cote Saint Jacques on the rue Faubourg Paris. Lionel grabbed our bags and escorted us into the lobby from where we could see swans on the Yonne (River.)
Nathalie popped out of her office to extend a warm welcome and after being shown to our “room,” replete with sun deck, marble walk-in bathroom and a bed large enough to accommodate Napoleon’s Grande Armée, we freshened up before grabbing a banquette on the terrace.
This gorgeous property has remained in the family since 1945 when Marie Lorain, a local seamstress, opened a small, family-style pension named for the hill behind the original building.
It has since been meticulously and continually upgraded and its 32 individually decorated rooms and suites are harmonious with the colors and textures featured in 3-star Michelin chef Jean-Michel Lorain’s cuisine.
This being Burgundy we had Kir Aligoté named for the clever mayor of Dijon, Canon Kir who created the drink to popularize crème de Cassis.
Properly relaxed, we walked along the river into town and back before enjoying the rays from our sun-drenched deck, prior to another visit to the terrace for a pre-dinner coupe of Deutz rosé and an elegant nibble of smoked salmon with caviar and crème fraiche.
Clément, our 25-year old sommelier went into the cave containing over 25,000 bottles representing 850 different wines and started our meal with a Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée ML from the vineyard of Jean-Michel’s father Michel Lorain.
We took our first sips with a velouté of asparagus topped with a quail egg. We finished it with foie gras de canard et Taboulé de Boulgour aux dattes.
For the delicately cooked aile de raie in a spicy bouillon of lait de coco et Cumbawa Clément continued to serve Bourgognes, a 2006 Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses.
We had spied langoustines in the kitchen and Pascal cleverly made sure that they were on the menu. They were served with rice and Provençal vegetables in green curry that merited the 2006 Corton Charlemagne.
Our first meat course, an agneau de lait des Pyrénées en croute de noix, Navets dans l’esprit d’une choucroute, emulsion de pomme de terre, Jus de Genièvre cried out for the 2007 Vosne Romanée from Domaine A.Lachaux, the first and only red wine of the night.
It was so good that Clément poured another glass to celebrate the cheese assortment that included an 18 month old Comté,, Epoisses, Roquefort and from Burgundy, Vezele, Soumaintrain, Pierre Qui Vivre and Rove des Garigues.
Desserts were appreciated with a 2009 Muscat du Cap Corse from Domaine Orenga de Gaffory.
The next morning found us sitting on the patio with a view of the slow-moving Yonne with a bountiful breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice, assorted fresh from the oven pastries and breads, soft-boiled eggs, fresh fruit and yogurt and all the coffee we could handle.
La Cote Saint Jacques
14 Faubourg Paris
89300 Joigny, France
03 86 91 43 56