Visiting Strasbourg in March might seem a weird idea – winter is almost over but spring hasn’t properly started yet, it’s cold and wet and moody… The city remains beautiful in any weather but the walks will probably be not as long as in summer, since after a half of an you you feel an irresistible desire to enter some cozy coffee shop:)) Strasbourg is famous by its Christmas markets but when the winter holidays period is over, the city gets very calm until spring which starts by the end of March.
Together with my friend Mikhail we choose Strasbourg as a weekend trip destination because of its convenient location: Mikhail was staying in Germany, close to the border with France and particularly with the Alsace region, and I came from Paris by TGV. So Strasbourg was a really great meeting point easy to reach for both of us, and we decided to spend the weekend there despite freezing weather forecast.
We didn’t regret our choice, since the cold pushed us to discover the culinary secrets of Strasbourg. Thanks to the Strasbourg-based cooker and food blogger Molly Wilkinson we got some precious advice and arrived to the city perfectly prepared, which means armed with a list of good addresses. Here are the ones we tried and approved:
1. Le Botaniste (restaurant / bar)
A modern brasserie with creative cuisine and stylish interiors. Lots of space, simple vintage furniture and decoration, big choice of cocktails to accompany the meal or just for aperitif. We loved food there, healthy and delicious! Baked beetroot served with goat cheese, orange risotto and chicken with mushrooms – every dish is original and beautifully served. We’ve been at Le Botaniste for lunch but I think it’s also a good dinner spot or aperitif place.
2. Binchstub (restaurant / brasserie)
This restaurant is specialized in flammekueche, and it’s a good enough reason to give this place a try!
Alsatian food is a result of mixing French and German cuisines, hearty and nutritious. I’m not a big fan of choucroute (traditional recipe made with different kinds of meat products) or braised cabbage but there’s one Alsatian dish which is definitely my top favorite: flammekueche ! Crispy dough, thinner than used for pizza, covered with local cheeses, bacon and vegetables. One might think it’s the same thing as pizza, but there’s one crucial difference : Alsatian cheeses are MUCH MORE smelly than Italian mozzarella ! The most famous local cheese is munster, soft and easily melting, but you also can choose a flammekueche with tomme, fondue or blue cheese.
Dessert version of this dish contains no cheese but different kind of fruits such as apples or pears.
3. Bouclier d’Or(restaurant / hotel)
One of the oldest and the most chic hotels of Strasbourg offers Sunday brunch accompanied by live music. Served in a luxuriously decorated room the brunch buffet includes salty and sweet items, hot drinks and fresh juices. The food selection is huge and I’d like to especially mention Alsatian cold meats and different kinds of cheese, bretzels, mini sandwiches, smoked salmon and excellent pastries including the famous Kougelhopf, the symbol of Alsatian gastronomy.
We spent a couple of hours at Bouclier d’Or enjoying delicious food and live music. Our only regret was that it was too cold for eating outside, in the cozy courtyard – I think the weather will be warm enough for that in the beginning of April.
4. Le Douanier (cocktail bar)
It’s not a restaurant but definitely one of the taste experiences in Strasbourg ! Each cocktail in this bar is a piece of art and if we stayed until late there every evening, it was because we just couldn’t leave Strasbourg without trying all the cocktails on the menu (there’s only a dozen of them but as I told each one is special and also beautifully served). The ambience is chic but relaxed, music is not too loud and interior design is very stylish.
I should say in search of perfection we tried two other well-known bars in Strasbourg, Les Aviateurs and L’Alchimiste , and honestly the cocktails there can’t be compared to Le Douanier : too much syrup and sugar kill the taste.
To finish with the good addresses in Strasbourg, I’d love to tell a few words about the hotel where we stayed : Okko Hotel, part of the Okko hotels group, a four-stars establishment not far from the city center .
First of all, this hotel is brand-new and super voguish. It’s situated not far away from the historical center of Strasbourg, in the calm residential area.
Second, Okko hotels introduced an original concept creating a “club space” where the guests can spend time reading, using the computers or having drinks. Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are free at the club (and there’s a big choice of them, including home-made yoghurts and gluten free cakes), as well as aperitif served between 6 and 10 p.m. I find that it’s an excellent idea to create the area where people can spend time together, communicate and chat. Also, the space is cleverly organized, and you can keep your privacy if you desire.
Third argument in favor of Okko Hotel is excellent breakfast with a variety of healthy products.
To sum up, Strasbourg is a perfect destination for the foodies and offers a large selection of traditional and modern restaurants. Prices are reasonable (VERY reasonable compared to Paris), so one can have really great culinary experience without spending a month’s salary;) And after the meal it’s nice to have a stroll in the old center of Strasbourg and take some photos!