Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dinner at Restaurant Winstub Gilg in Mittelbergheim in Alsace, France

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Madame Paulette Gilg

For me, dinner in Alsace is always a very special event. It can range from very rustic to very sophisticated: Alsace is well known for its traditional, hearty food, reflecting the rustic simplicity of rural life, influenced by next-door Germany (to which Alsace has belonged at different times in history).  At the same time, Alsace has the most Michelin stars in France; you can eat at very high levels in many places in Alsace.

This time, we stayed overnight and had dinner at Hotel Restaurant Winstub Gilg in Mittelbergheim, on the way Bordeaux to Frankfurt am Main via the Bourgogne. Restaurant Winstub Gilg – though being a winstub – today belongs to the latter category.

Pictures: Hotel Restaurant Winstub Gilg in Mittelbergheim

The following day, we tasted and bought wine at Domaines Gilg, just opposite of Hotel and Restaurant Gilg.

This was the final evening of: Wine Country France: 6 Days, 7 Regions, 3500 km - In 6 Days through 7 Wine Regions of France


Alsace sits in the northeast corner of France, sheltered by the Vosges Mountains to the west and hard against the German border to the east. The vineyards reach from around Wissembourg in the north to Mulhouse, 70 miles south. Some 12 million cases are produced annually from 32,000 acres of vineyards.

Pictures: The Vineyards of Mittelbergheim

Alsace is a fascinating amalgam of the German and French. The end of the 30 Years’ War in 1648 gave Alsace to France. In 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, Alsace was taken by Germany. After World War I, it was once more part of France — until 1940, when Germany reclaimed it. With the defeat of the Nazis in 1945, Alsace became French yet again — and so it has remained. Wine production in Alsace traces its beginnings to the early centuries of the Roman Empire, when the Romans conquered Alsace and introduced wine.

Picture: The Wine Villages of Alsace

For more on Alsatian wines, see: The World Class Wines of Alsace

Traditional Alsatian Cuisine

Here is a short overview of traditional Alsatian dishes, that winstubs traditionally serve.

Choucroûte garnie, mild Sauerkraut cooked in white wine, beer or cider and seasoned with juniper berries and black peppercorns. Considered a "national dish of Alsace," the big mound of Sauerkraut is served on a large platter and topped with a variety of meats—especially ham, bacon, sausages and other smoked pork products—along with cooked whole carrots and boiled potatoes.

Bäckeoffe, a casserole made with layers of sliced potatoes and leeks with two or three kinds of meats (beef, pork, lamb), cooked together in white wine inside an earthenware casserole hermetically sealed with a strip of bread dough.

Pictures: Hotel Restaurant Winstub Gilg in Mittelbergheim

Flammekueche, or what is called tarte flambée in French, made from a very thin crust of bread dough topped with a layer of crème fraîche or fromage blanc, thinly sliced onions, and small pieces of smoked bacon. Traditionally baked in wood-fired ovens. A vegetarian alternative to this is Zwiebelküche or tarte à l'oignon, which is an onion tart.

Kugelhopf, a cake studded with raisins and almonds, baked in a special fluted mold shaped like a Turk's turban. Traditionally eaten for Sunday breakfast, accompanied by big cups of café au lait. Also served in the afternoon with coffee or tea and sometimes after dinner as a dessert dressed up with sweet sauces and whipped cream.

Munster, stinky cheese from the Alsatian town of Munster. When ripe, this cow's milk cheese has a slightly creamy interior and a deliciously pungent aroma.

Fruit tarts, from rhubarb in spring to apple and pear in autumn. The Alsatians have a well deserved reputation as excellent bakers of breads, cakes, tarts and cookies.

Another delicacy from Alsace is fois gras, and this kind is heavily in competition with the fois gras from southwest France.

In addition to wines, Alsace has a long tradition of distilling.  Although Kirsch is the most common eau-de-vie, locals will make it out of elderberries, strawberries or whatever fruit is locally available.  An alternative is the Marc de Gewürztraminer, which is distilled to 45 proof.


Mittelbergheim is very charming village in Alsace and less touristic than others, such as for Riquewihr, which is also beautiful, but much more busy. We had a wonderful couple of days there some time ago with the whole family. See: In the Glass: Hugel et Fils wines at the cuisine des emotions de Jean Luc Brendel at Riquewihr in Alsace

The alleys in Mittelbergheim are lined by medieval houses and the village stretches out in a sun-drenched slop just south of Barr. It is the tranquillity that remains as the main impression after a visit to Mittelbergheim.

In terms of vineyards, the pride is Zotzenberg, that was awarded Grand Cru status for Sylvaner from the 2005 harvest. There are some large estates in Mittelbergheim, such as Gilg, Haegi and Boeckel. However, it is fun to seek out the smaller estates run.

Pictures: In the Vineyards of Mittelbergheim with Oscar

Restaurant Winstub Gilg

The Winstub Gilg is located in an adorable traditional Rhine house built in 1614, right in the middle of Mittelbergheim. Its showpiece is a two-story stone staircase, classified as a historic monument. Medieval stonemasons who worked on the cathedral at Strasbourg carved it.

Although Restaurant Winstub Gig is a winstub, this time, there was very little on the menu that would come under rustic, traditional Alsatian cuisine. It was the menu of a Chef  - Vincent Reuschlé, married to a Gilg daughter - who has aspirations to be in the Michelin 1 star category.  At that elevated level, at least this time, the focus was more on classic French cuisine rather than experimentation and trying out new things. Also, the portions were generous.

Of course, the Winstub Gilg wine list is rich.

The evening brought back memories of my student days, when one of our friends decided to get married and picked Winstub Gilg. My fiancé at the time and current wife, Annette and I went there a couple of days earlier and when we checked in at Winstub Gilg we were informed that our friends had changed their mind and had cancelled the wedding in the last moment. They could inform most guests, but not us – these were the days before cell phone and i-phone. There were two or three other couples that were in the same situation. We had a great evening.

Pictures: Dinner at Winstub Gilg

35 years ago when I used to eat there as student, it was different. At the time, the table cloths were red white checkered and the focus was on the regional specialities, choucroute, baekeoffe and tarte flambée. But the pendulum has swung over the years towards more fine dining and less regional winstub cuisine.  

The Menu Options

Winstub Gilg offered three menu options – Euro 72, 50, 30 – and I took the Menu for Euro 50, while my wife Annette Schiller ate a la carte.

Menu Gilg Euro 50

Foie gras d'oie truffé en brioche ou
La déclinaison de homard aux petits légumes croquants et citron confit

Duo de veau et boeuf aux champignons frais ou
La rosace de Saint-Jacques sur caviar d'aubergines et ratatouille

Le délice onctueux chocolat aux framboises et son coulis

What we Ate and Drank

Veloute de chou-fleur as an amuse geule

La terrine de canard au foie gras et pistaches accompagnee d’ine sauce Cumberland et champignons a la Grecque

La déclinaison de homard aux petits légumes croquants et citron confit

Le rable de lapin farcie, champignons et sauce a’ l’ estragon sur un lit de cheveux d’ anges aux basilics

La rosace de Saint-Jacques sur caviar d'aubergines et ratatouille


Ile flottante

Le délice onctueux chocolat aux framboises et son coulis

Aperitif, the Wines and Digestif

Aperitif: Un Coup de Cremant d’Alsace

Silvaner 2007 Mittelbergheim Vignes Vieilles, Cave Historique Hospices Strasbourg

Chateau Luchery-Halde, AOC Pessac-Leognan 2004

Digestif: Calvados

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wine Country France: 6 Days, 7 Regions, 3500 km - In 6 Days through 7 Wine Regions of France 

Visiting Colette Faller at Domaine Weinbach in Kaysersberg in Alsace

Visiting Jean Trimbach at Maison Trimbach in Ribeauville in Alsace

The World Class Wines of Alsace

In the Glass: Hugel et Fils wines at the cuisine des emotions de Jean Luc Brendel at Riquewihr in Alsace

In the world class white wine region Alsace

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