The gourmet break with Hubert Giblet*

In June 2021, Sébastien Bruzeau and Wendy Hoffmann opened their restaurant, L’Epine, in a renovated old school right at the heart of Azay-le-Rideau. And now in early 2023, they have already been awarded a Bib Gourmand!

Coming home

Sébastien Bruzeau, Chef of L'Epine restaurant in Azay-le-Rideau. Loire Valley, France.

Sébastien Bruzeau

Sébastien (from Cheillé, the neighbouring town) and Wendy (from Beaumont-en-Véron) are natives of Touraine. They travelled far and wide for 10 years after a formation at the Tours CFA apprentice centre. He worked in the kitchen and she in the dining room. After working at L’Auberge du XIIème siècle (Saché), with Olivier Arlot (taking over at La Chancelière in Montbazon, among others), the chef headed for Paris to work with Sanderens, Prunier… But he and his partner also worked for private clients: Pierre Bergé (St Rémy de Provence, Tangiers and Marrakesh), the CEO of Universal Music and even for one year on a yacht!

Before the age of 30, they already have a great CV to their credit! And it is a great boon for gourmets that they have now returned to their childhood home. The restaurant’s name comes from memories of walks Sébastien took with his grandfather, when they would gather blackthorn berries (“épine” is French for thorn)… And the berries can of course be found in aperitifs and sauces at the restaurant.

Recently given the Maître Restaurateur award

Backed by a wide experience combined with a love for good things, Sébastien Bruzeau brings us a creative cuisine, rich in flavour. His watchword: local, seasonal and carefully selected ingredients.

Bread specially made for the restaurant by the Cheillé bakery (with flour provided by the chef’s cousin: Chant de Blé in Saint-Epain), organic vegetables from Mazières of Touraine and from Champs des Tis’Anes (soil ploughed by donkeys), plus organic mushrooms from the Cave des Figuiers in Cinq-Mars-la-Pile. You’ll notice in passing that I have given you a few recommendations about local farmers!

Close by, the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau.

Close by, the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau.

Appetising dishes...

Appetising dishes...

The restaurant terrace

The restaurant terrace

The beef is selected on the hoof by Sébastien Bruzeau from a breeder in Cheillé (guaranteed healthy meat) and prepared only in the restaurant: carving, ageing and curing. Tasting is believing! With such high-quality ingredients, the chef can express all his talent.

Since the chef masters his subject and is continually renewing his dishes, the result is superb. His cuisine has a local flavour, pepped up by exotic touches inspired by his travels and professional experiences. Of course, fans of very traditional cuisine may be a little bemused, but for anyone, like me, who likes a surprise, then the experience will be a pleasant one. And the chef’s signature dish, foie gras with blackthorn and poire tapée (pears), is always a hit. The prestigious Maître Restaurateur award was almost inevitable.

And in the dining room?

Right from the start, you are struck by the atmosphere, with the charm of the old school and an ideal combination of old and new. In the entrance is an attractive, century-old wall painting of the Café de Cluny in Paris, the original location of the beautiful bar at the rear of the dining room.

The big dining room also combines the modern and traditional. The wood tables (without tablecloths) provide warmth beneath the attractive “clouds” of chandeliers (made from environmentally friendly materials). On the walls, modern paintings from the owners’ private collection underlines the restaurant’s personality.

The façade of the old school

The façade of the old school

Fine wooden tables

Fine wooden tables

Contemporary decoration

Contemporary decoration

Local wines, in particular Touraine Azay-Le-Rideau

Local wines, in particular Touraine Azay-Le-Rideau

The service led by Wendy is pleasant and attentive. It rounds off the restaurant’s culinary promise: gastronomic and relaxed.

Sébastien and Wendy are both wine lovers and give an important place to the fruit of the grape. They highlight Loire valley winemakers with whom they have built a solid network in the past ten years, but not only with them… The result is a great wine list and a chance to give yourself a treat. You will only have one wish: to make this restaurant your regular “canteen”! Luckily, prices are reasonable and since the menus often change, you really can come back often…

I almost forgot: a large terrace looking out on Place de la République (renovated) is a chance to enjoy a very pleasant outdoor lunch or dinner in fine weather.

 

Lunch menus during the week €25 (dish + starter or dessert) and €30 (starter, dish and dessert)

3-course meal at €35, 4 courses for €52.

Children’s menus (under 12s), the same as for adults, but half as big and half the price

 

L’Epine Restaurant

19 Place de la République – 37190 AZAY-LE-RIDEAU

Open from Tuesday to Saturday, lunchtime and evenings

www.restaurant-lepine.fr – 02 47 45 39 84

 

* Hubert Giblet, gourmet and food-lover, is head of the Automnales Gastronomy Festival for the Val de Loire Terres de Gastronomie association and the Azay-Chinon Val de Loire Tourist Office.

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