Metz on the menu, France

Metz, the town in the news this year for its new gallery of contemporary art, the Pompidou. We were advised to stay in a small hotel and we were well pleased with our room that overlooked the of Saint Etienne cathedral. Our annexe is marked here by the blue door and awning. The original hotel entrance is via the dark green door and awning just a couple of doors away.

It is 3 star but had all the amenities we needed, character and comfort. There is a new annexe (there are only 30 rooms in total) and it had a been refurbished with nice new bathrooms, high ceilings. What I appreciated was that we had two large windows overlooking the place de Chambre so we could see how the weather was outside and any interesting activities.  I love to look out and see what is going on in the streets and it is handy to see what everyone is wearing so I know how warmly to dress.

Sometimes breakfast at hotels in France is a complete waste of good money as you get can end up with pastries bought from the worst patisserie in town and as for the rest – what rest, maybe a yoghourt and some terrible coffee and tea, but here for 11 € each there were three large round tables filled with cereals, pastries, cakes, breads, cheeses and ham and one table devoted to a vast array of fruit.

A note about how to get to the hotel from the station. When we reached our hotel we discovered we could have taken the little yellow minibus called ARTIS from a bus stop outside the main Gare/station to close to the front door of the hotel. It only costs about 70 cents. The hotel should promote this more as many people coming to Metz to see the Pompidou may be tempted to choose a hotel near the station but this hotel is closest to the old town and shops.

Walk toward this sign and then across the road to the left is the bus stop for the little yellow bus. Big yellow bus in the picture, don’t get on this one, I have no idea where it is headed. Once you leave the station for the town you will notice most of the city centre is built in a local honey-hued limestone called pierre de Jaumont.

We asked the hotelier (it is a family run business) Hocine for a restaurant recommendation, stating we wanted to eat something new, not old-fashioned or touristy. He suggested A’Cote brasserie nearby and here are some photos of our meal there.  John had two styles of egg for starter, the jar contained a coddled egg, way too raw, well coddled eggs are but they are usually forced down the throat of the infirmed…However the coated fried whole egg made up for it.

I chose rouget, the small red mullet you see everywhere here. They placed layers of rouget fillets between slices of skinned tomato. I like the way the French go to the trouble to skin tomatoes, even in salads and layers of a crisp pastry a thin as filo pastry. On the side you see zucchini spaghetti and puree of potato. 

John chose an Italian dish, osso bucco and deemed his the best choice, I am sticking with the rouget.

Servings wholesome, not over the top arty as you can see. It is quite a small restaurant and all the seating is set at high benches and mostly around a bar where you can see the chefs working. It looks like a tapas bar and in fact you can order tapas but as you can see we went for the conventional couple of courses but we could see our entrees were priced and served as tapas also. My ‘tapa’ was a cereal bowl size of creamy truffle infused pasta shells, not very photogenic, too bland looking for a solo portrait but absolutely moreish and my attempts to leave some in the bowl failed dismally. You can just see it in the background of John’s twin egg plate.

Now here is what you normally get plenty of, Quiche Lorraine, we are in the Lorraine area. Just near our hotel was a huge U shape market, in a building that was originally built as a palace for a bishop. We wandered in on closing time with everyone cleaning up we still managed a few photos to show you the food. If I lived in Metz I would not be able to resist these baked cheesecakes.

The sausage selection reflected the German side. And a lot of pates and terrines.

The big surprise on our search for some gastronomical highlights was lunch on the last day.

After a late and filling breakfast we left it rather late to lunch and the restaurant we tried told us we could not come in, feeling dejected we wandered back to our hotel and discovered that the restaurant we sat in for breakfast serves Algerian food at lunch. They did not knock us back even though it looked like most diners were finishing.

We ended up with a feast but having checked out we had to walk instead of sleeping it off. So we walked it off and saw more of this lovely town, most traffic is kept out of the centre and since there is a university here it is quite vibrant.

But back to the lunch. To start we ordered a Brik, since travelling in Tunisia we love to have one of these where possible. As you can see by the photo the size was not exactly entree size. Filled with tuna and egg it would have been enough on its own. Ten times better than the Brik we had at the Paris Mosque restaurant the week before. John and I had already chosen a lamb and chicken tagine each so we could not cancel our order. Out came a vegetable tagine first served with couscous and then the two meats on a separate plate.

This restaurant was frequented by the local business population so is appreciated in Metz. I could not fault anything, the only thing that should be changed are the dreadful chairs, they look like they belong in a fast food place. Please change the chairs, they downgrade the charm of the hotel and the restaurant. Oh well I have to accept that not everyone is going to rush out and spend up on new chairs just because they have the free services of a ‘design guru’.

Send me a comment on this blog if you think my two posts on Metz would entice you to take a trip to Metz whilst in France.

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  1. #1 by louise martin-chew on October 9, 2010 - 3:55 am

    Hi Roz

    I would LOVE to travel to Metz – and you are giving us the ‘heads up’ on how to do it in style. Thanks!!

    louise

  2. #2 by Barbara Paroissien on October 27, 2010 - 4:55 am

    Hi Roz
    Just arrived back in Paris – very cold but sunny and all the scarves are out in full force.
    Just planning to see the Monet Exhibition at the Grand Palais, but also rereading about Metz and planning a visit there. Your two blogs were terrific, especially the yellow shuttle bus and the hotel you stayed in.

    Only here for 4 weeks this time so much to see and do.

    Barb Paroissien

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