‘There’s a new kid on the restaurant block in Burgundy’s Beaune’, says Rosi Hanson. Read her review of former Masterchef star Olivier’s Strieff’s striking modern dishes at the restaurant Le Relais de Saulx.

Le Relais de Saulx, Beaune

Rating: 8/10

There is a new kid on the restaurant block in Burgundy’s Beaune, offering sophisticated food in a very simple setting. Time was when all local menus featured jambon persille, snails, oeufs en meurette and boeuf bourguignon. Tedious for locals and regular visitors. Then young chefs arrived, emphasising seasonality, freshness of well-sourced produce for more modern dishes.

Since March, Le Relais de Saulx, close behind the Hospices de Beaune, has been an interesting addition. Olivier Streiff was born in the Moselle and has most recently worked in Provence. He is well-known in France for appearances on Masterchef – his striking, Goth-like look would make him hard to forget. As it turns out, it is his cooking which makes him memorable.

restaurant Le Relais de Saulx

Dessert at Le Relais de Saulx. Credit: Marie Cheze Instagram @ladymcobra

A choice of three starters, three main courses and three desserts does not sound ambitious. But Streiff is alone in the kitchen, and determined to do what he does best with no compromises. A declinaison (deconstruction) of tomatoes was elegant and had surprises: a dollop of caviar in a light vinegar, a small pile of raspberries – it sounds a mess, but worked. Half a small blue lobster with cooked fennel and citrus, and a plate of salmon marinated in soy sauce and grilled sesame oil were fresh and delicious.

Asian influence cropped up again in a tuna main dish with a piperade and lemon gnocchi. My choice was duck, two large fingers of filet along with a small cake of polenta, crisp on the outside and melting inside, tasting of fresh corn. I am never drawn to risotto in France, but here was a perfect bowl of very hot rice with orange, saffron and artichokes, topped with a few flakes of gold leaf. Intelligent menu planning makes it easy to choose a balanced meal. This chef stays firmly in his kitchen.

restaurant Le Relais de Saulx

Tuna with piperade and lemon gnocchi. Credit: Michel Joly

The Wine List

His wife, Nina Montchovet, previously a hotelier in Paris, handles the customers with charm. The daughter of Didier, a grower in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, her local roots are reflected in the keenly priced wine list. There are many biodynamic and organic wines, indicated by helpful symbols.

Top domaines include JN Gagnard, Matrot and Bonneau du Martray among whites; Comte Armand, Trapet and Thibault Liger-Belair for reds. There are seven tables, well spaced, and décor is minimal. Their ideal is to serve 12 to 15 at lunch and 18 to 20 for dinner. Deterred by French employment laws, they have no staff, and the short opening hours reflect this. Bookings by phone only.

Le Relais de Saulx

6 rue Louis Very

21200 Beaune

Tel +33 (0)3 80 22 01 35

  • Rosi Hanson is a food and wine writer, her latest book is Recipes from the French Wine Harvest.

Related content: