If you’re ever wandering along the « route des châteaux » – not that of the Loire valley, but the other one – make it a point to stop at this small white house with white lace curtains and yellow shutters, which around 7 p.m. seems abandoned on the curb just like the neighboring church. I smile as realize that many a village in France could easily fit this description.
Only this particular location happens to sit on a route départementale that serpentines through kilometers of lush vineyards, bypassing historical mansions and gated properties bearing the common name of Château. The main difference in these domains are the appellation and the Classement au Grands Crus 1855 (from 1 up to 5, this is the elite circle of Bordeaux’ finest wines). On the road North from Bordeaux (which by 2017 will be only 2 hours by train from Paris) flanked by the Gironde river to the East and the Atlantic ocean not too far West, one passes by legendary signs that awaken your taste buds: Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac and St Estèphe.
En route, just beyond Moulis, Le Lion d’Or is a sort of QG or foodie institution – as we say in France-, where proprietors, bikers, princes, farmers and tourists all share one wish: enjoy a hearty regional meal prepared by the house Chef in the name of Jean-Paul Barbier, a local legend. We just had to try it – seeing that Everyone, from Michelin-rated chefs to wine experts and small shop owners had recommended it. And we were not disappointed.
Here I remembered that once upon a time a steak tartare was actually cut by knife and seasoned (ask for very mild if you mean medium) by your side before being taken away to settle for a good ten minutes. I was also reminded that house chips are tastier when round, chewy in the middle and crispy around the edges.
And what really struck me was the warmth and BYO (if red only, or else the house white is in order)! In fact looking around this common decorum, one can’t help but remark the glass-door wooden cabinets stacked with private estate wines – and the very best at that – that line the walls. So, go ahead, hop off your Harley or step down from your series 7 and come have a good time – this is local.
Tried it. Loved it. Shared it.
Le Lion d’Or
11 Route de Pauillac – 33460 Arcins – FRANCE
Tel: + 33(0)5 56 58 96 79