Le Belena, Beaune.

April 2018.

First night in town with a friend to visit producers, buy wine, and enjoy the local culture and cuisine. We used the new Michelin website that will show you on a map named restaurants around your location, but neither of the two nearby appeared to be in the places where indicated on the map. It was pouring rain so we defaulted to this medium-sized bustling-looking standard family place. It was in a word ordinary by local standards.

The room was busy with people of all ages, and there was certainly a pleasant clean stock-and-condiments smell at the door. We were taken to a nice table at the side, and perused the menu. It was a standard list of Burgundy entrées and plats. I chose oeufs meurette (an old Burgundy favourite of mine) and kidneys. Friend Larry had a salad and poached white fish.

The oeufs were perfectly cooked but frankly not as flavorful in respect of sauce and wine as I had hoped. The bread underneath was of ordinary quality. The kidneys were perfect, but I found the underlying linguine noodles ordinary in flavour and the sauce apparently flour-thickened, not reduction. Larry found his salad and fish nicely prepared but similarly unremarkable.

We had a 2015 Mercury from no producer I’ve heard of which was pleasant enough on the nose, but sugar-predominant and short, and eventually increasingly vacant in the mouth. About $60 for wine, $150 for the dinner for both of us.

The server was a middle-aged man moving extremely quickly and frankly bordering on dismissive. Nothing you can quite put your finger on; he was either in a huge hurry or didn’t like foreigners or both. This place to me is a symptom of the sad erosion of native French folks’ appreciation of their own gorgeous cuisine.Or maybe it was just the only place in the neighbourhood open on a Monday …

Food 7.8, service 6.2, ambience 7.0, value 7.9, peace and quiet 6.4. Wouldn’t be going back.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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