“Discovering an inspired new chef is what finding a treasure must feel like,” my father, himself a respected chef in the grand French tradition, once told me. I knew halfway through the meal that I had just come across such a gem. Each dish rejoiced the eye and regaled the palate. Paté de foie gras came on a shimmering pool of herbed green tea jelly; red snapper skin was scored into thick julienne strips and caramelized crackling-style while the fillet beneath was cooked to delicate perfection. Cauliflower became a savory crumble; chestnuts discretely found their way into a wild mushroom duxelle ; I was smitten.
Chef Jaeglé’s imagination and his rigorous attention to detail permeated every mouthful; and his enthusiasm for sharing his art was infectious. When he came out of the kitchen at the end of the evening, it was not for a well-deserved victory lap but to exchange thoughts on our dining experience and share his vision. “I was drawn to the artistic side of the profession, the opportunity for creativity,” he confirmed as an answer to the ritual question of why he became a chef. The woodlands location of Les Violettes was heaven to him. “The forest shows us boundless generosity,” he enthused. A couple of mornings a week, he led his team on a foraging expedition for wild greens, mushrooms, herbs and berries. These along with the best and freshest products his nearby suppliers offer guided his inspiration for a menu that changed each month at most.
With Chef Jaeglé in the kitchen Le Jardin des Violettes delivered a compelling dining experience that for me elevated the restaurant to the status of destination onto itself. I intend to revisit and share it with Paris friends at the first opportunity, so that we can enjoy the rise of this virtuoso young chef.
Executive Chef Jérôme Jaeglé
Handicapped Access Yes
Location The Jardin des Violettes was located in The Romantik Hotel and Spa Les Violettes in Jungholtz, Alsace. It was 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Mulhouse and 16 miles (25 kilometers) north of Colmar.
Maitre D&Rsquo;Hotel Anne-Lise Reitter
Owned Philippe Bosc
Pastry Chef Dan Touati
Size The dining room could sit a maximum of 70. The restaurant employed a staff of 10.
Sommelier Alexandre Figenwald
Type Of Restaurant French haute cuisine
Meal We dined at Le Jardin des Violettes on two occasions, opting on the first night for the Menu Degustation (Tasting Menu). After an amuse-bouche of smoked trout and herbed goat-cheese roulade served with a freshly baked cheese wafer, the meal began with a generous nugget of paté de foie gras on a bed of green tea jelly, followed by a slab of Arctic char served rare, topped with a crumble of caramelized cauliflower and a side portion of a scrumptious cloud light bright green vegetable mousse that my friend and I were at a loss to identify. Chef Jaeglé later confided that it was a blend of ten locally harvested wild greens and herbs. Fillet of red snapper was next, its deeply scored skin grilled to a satisfying crunch, served on a bed of diced celeriac and chestnuts. The next course was a saddle of lamb, served precisely as ordered (medium rare), with roasted baby carrots and Ratte potatoes over a divine reduction of roasting juices. To enhance our meal, we selected (with the help of Alexandre, our knowledgeable young sommelier) a memorable bottle of Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2010, Domaine Weinbach, Kaysersberg.
For our next meal, the last of an over-indulgent few days in Alsace, we begged Chef Jaeglé for “something light”. What followed was a sumptuous succession of surprises that included a mousseline of potatoes with walnut oil, garnished with oxalis (tiny wood sorrel leaves with a tangy, peppery taste), a mussels fricassée rich in saffron, served over a mousse of wild greens, and a cassolette (small casserole) filled with a medley of fragrant wild mushrooms still hinting of the woodlands from where they had been recently plucked. Nestled in the center of it, we discovered an egg softly poached in mushroom juices. Divine. Both nights dessert was a different variation of chestnut-based confections, one of my favorite fall treats.
Reservations Strongly recommended
Reviewers Article and photographs by Josette King
Service The service was excellent, friendly, attentive and professional.
Would You Dine There Again-Recommend It? Yes