Bordeaux, home to one of the best wines of the world and to France’s tasty canelé de Bordeaux, a traditional Bordelais cake made originally using miniature cooper mould. These little golden cakes with a rich and dense spongy custard filling and golden caramel shells are definitely a “must try” in Bordeaux. Typically eaten for breakfast, as a dessert or even just as a snack in between meals; wine lovers often serves these little gems at wine tasting as well, a perfect accompaniment with sweet Sauternes wine. In my case, I can certainly eat them anytime of the day with a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, tea or even just by itself. Aside from canelé, Bordeaux is also famous for its oysters from Arcachon Bay, seafood from Gironde Estuary and Cod from Begles. Lamprey à la Bordelaise is another popular dish that originated from Bordeaux, a fish stew cook in red wine that is popular to both locals and visiting tourists. In terms of meat; the black pigs from Bigorre Pyrenees and Charolais beef cooked over wood-burning fires are also a must try and certainly a delicious treat to have in this beautiful city, full of history, pack with flavours and amazing wine! A city that no doubt will leave you with a lasting memory in the palette…
Reviews and Recommendations:
Category: Restaurant, Bistro
Cuisine: French, Traditional cooking from the South-West of France
Price Range on Average: EUR 65.00 (per head for a 3 course meal excluding drinks)
Ambiance: Traditional, Rustic French
Address: 6 Rue de la Porte de la Monnaie, Bordeaux, 33800 France
Tel: +33 5 56 91 56 37
Last Visited: 2013 for dinner
La Tupina which meant ‘kettle’ in basque language, opened in 1968 by Jean-Pierre Xiradakis, this restaurant is situated in a lovely narrow cobbled street at the centre of Bordeaux. While Cafe Tupina is right at the main road of Quai de la Monnaie, La Tupina, the restaurant, is tucked away just behind it in a pretty narrow street.
As you enter this restaurant the first thing you will notice is an enormous open fire place, surrounded by hanging dried herbs and garlic, rustic pots and pans. Best local produce of vegetables from the surrounding region of Bordeaux and best cuts of meat of the day is also showcase at the centre of this magnificent fireplace. I have requested for a seat right by the fireplace at the centre of the action. I must say that the whole experience has been fun. As someone who is in love with food and has great passion for cooking, watching chefs prepare and cook is always an exciting experience for me.
As the chef roast a chicken on a rotating spit over wooden fire, season a rack of lamb on a grill and cook chips on a pan of sizzling duck fat, the smoked and aroma of all these amazing flavours really captivates my senses and appetite. I just couldn’t resist staring at every single dish he plates up.
When I came for dinner at 7pm on a Monday evening, the restaurant was a bit quiet, by 8pm however the restaurant was packed both with locals and tourists all ordering La tupina’s famous chips cooked in goose fat.
The restaurant is divided into different rooms; the best tables in my opinion would be the tables at the front room by the entrance. Furniture wise; wooden chairs and wooden tables covered in white French country style tablecloths.
The front of house, the chef and the waiters are very friendly. Service is both friendly and efficient. The front of house is very lively and entertaining, who speaks fluent English and of course French.
There’s an extensive wine, Armagnac and cognac list to suit every palette. The waiters are also quite knowledgeable on the best wines to match the dishes they serve and are happy to recommend a good wine to accompany your dish.
The portions of the dishes are definitely very generous, tasty, rich and robust in flavour. This is not the place to have an haute cuisine experience, this is more of a place to try a traditional south-west French cooking, cook simply with good local ingredients and serve simply without all the Michelin starred detailed architectural plating style. For instance, a side dish of stewed beans that came with the leg of lamb was served on the table with a metal sauce pan; this may not be to your taste but works for me as it does suit the ambiance of a rustic, French country home decors and furniture.
The terrine of semi-cooked “Foie Gras” was served with a simple toasted white bread, a few pinches of salt and ground black pepper around the plate. The waiter recommended that I have it with a sweet Sauternes wine, the wine did complement the smooth; melt in the mouth foei gras.
The squid was simply pan-fried with garlic and chili, served on a simple black plate. The squid was fresh and perfectly cooked. There is nothing worst than an over cooked, rubbery squid and this was definitely not one those.
The leg of lamb was cooked in its own juice for 7 hours, served with one clove of roasted garlic and a pot of cassoulet beans. The meat was succulent and the beans were cooked fine, it wasn’t the best but it’s good.
The Bigorre black pig was served with a lovely thick sauce, creamy mashed potato and a clove of roasted garlic. It was such a delight to have tried this dish, the meat was tender and pack full of flavours. I’ll definitely order this again the next time I visit.
La Tupina’s “Cannelé “stuffed with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with some butterscotch coulis was a new discovery for me. Although I’ve had Cannelé countless times in France I’ve never had them with butterscotch coulis or stuffed with vanilla ice cream. I love the different textures and flavour combinations of this simply constructed dessert. Though perhaps I am a bit biased seeing as cream and caramel is my idea of heaven! Hence, even though I was already full from a massive portion of starter and main course, I did eat all of it. Sometimes it is worth remembering that life is too short to waste such sweet, tasty dessert. So if you do order this on your visit at La Tupina, please enjoy it to the full as I’ve had, as it is worth it.
Pear “Belle Hélène” with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Sadly as I was too busy tucking into my “Cannelé” I’ve only tried a bit of this dessert, the pear’s cooked well in spice syrup and was served covered in chocolate sauce with some almond slivers, the ice cream came as a surprise as it was hidden inside the pear, this is a tasty and rich dessert.
Overall the quality of food at La Tupina is good, the portions were a bit too much and I can’t help thinking that perhaps it would have been better if they reduce the portions and the price both at 20%. As in comparison to all other bistros that I’ve been to in Bordeaux, Lyon, Tollouse, Paris, Orleans, Reims and Rouen, La Tupina’s price is definitely higher than any other bistros in France that offers the same food quality and service level. But then, everybody goes to La Tupina as in some ways it has become an institution in its own rights, it is the place to dine when in Bordeaux, to have a great time, to enjoy the theatrical atmosphere and the cozy ambiance, to reminisce on the old days and enjoy local produced. I guess you’d go to La Tupina, because it is La Tupina.