The best winstub in Strasbourg hides in plain sight. Restaurant Au Pont Corbeau is located right on the quai Saint-Nicolas, a somber, almost windowless brown facade frowning out at the Musée Historique de la ville de Strasbourg located just across the river in the heart of the old town. If you didn’t know it’s reputation, you probably wouldn’t give it a second look.
Fortunately, an acquaintance who lives in the area recommended it to me, saying that it is the winestub where “the locals go”. Walking in to the dark wood lined dining room, you can believe that this is true. The clientele seems to be mostly older and well healed people from the neighborhood. Well dressed older couples. Groups of bankers in business suits with their jackets handing on the backs of their chairs. A society matron lunching with what appears to be a daughter, a grand daughter and a great grand daughter. A table of retired men, enjoying a couple bottles of wine with lunch and finishing with schnapps.
In other words, people who like to eat well, who know good food when they eat it and who seek the comfort of always finding their favorite dish on the menu.
That’s is the essence of Au Pont Corbeau. Traditional cuisine of Alsace, prepared with attention to detail, like it has been for 90 years, served with care, warmth and humor in a crowded, convivially noisy room. Eating well, on dishes you know and love, with people you enjoy.
Start with a fat slice of house made goose foie gras terrine “mi-cuit”. Then maybe plump filets of herring marinated in white wine and olive oil. Or presskopf, pig’s head terrine sliced as thick as my thumb, served with potatoes sauteed with garlic and parsley.
The above mentioned matron very carefully and tactfully devoured a thick wedge of crispy puff pastry tourte filled with ground pork and venison, served with carrot, beet and celery root crudités. The bankers shared platters of choucroute nouveau, first of the season sauerkraut garnished with smoked pork shoulder, knackwurst and pork shank. The old buddies were split between the choucroute and a pot of rabbits pieces simmered with Riesling and mushrooms.
And just when you think you can’t eat one more bite, a bowl of green salad appears, to, as the waiter explains, help with digestion. If it does its job, a generous slice of fresh fruit tart, maybe huckleberry or tiny yellow mirabelle plums, might just be the way to finish the meal.
In the pursuit of new and different dining experiences, we sometimes forget one of the rare pleasures of civilized living: a well made, comforting meal composed of dishes we know and love. They have not forgotten it at Au Pont Corbeau.
Au Pont Corbeau
Address: 21 Quai Saint-Nicolas, 67000 Strasbourg
Tel: 03 88 35 60 68
Reservations: A good idea, very busy lunch and dinner.