June 11, 2020
By Bruce Neyers
Restaurant Greuze in Tournus near Mâcon
During my years with Kermit Lynch, I traveled to France often. We ate well on those trips, as my traveling companions insisted on it. One of my favorite spots was Restaurant Greuze in Tournus, a Michelin two-star in a small town on the Saône River about 30-minutes south of Beaune. Greuze was celebrated for the traditional dishes of chef-owner Jean Ducloux, a classical French cook who along with Paul Bocuse had been at La Pyramide in Vienne with Fernand Point.
While Ducloux was a staunch traditionalist, he had modernized his restaurant to have an open kitchen. From the large table he usually reserved for us, you could read a sign that had been hung prominently in the kitchen — amidst a sea of copper pots and pans — “Cooking is not an art, it is a profession that one must learn and love.” It was a constant reminder to his staff and patrons, and I often reflected on how appropriate that observation was for winemaking too.
The menu was given to classical French dishes, and the place was so popular with the locals that Ducloux confided to us once that the local Michelin inspector had a standing reservation there every Tuesday night. I loved everything he offered, from Pâté to Frog’s Legs to his Roast Chicken with Black Truffles. My favorite dish though was Sautéed Dover Sole. Ducloux retired in 2009, and he and his wife sold the restaurant to an up-and-coming young celebrity chef from Paris. I never returned. I continued my search for the elusive Dover Sole, however, and a few years later found a version every bit as good, at Michael’s Restaurant on 55th Street in mid-town New York City.
Proprietor Michael McCarty is a modern-day staunch traditionalist, and for decades he has been turning out great food at his restaurants in New York City and Santa Monica. Both are in spots that I can’t easily visit often now, so a year ago a friend who knows about this sort of stuff suggested we try the Dover Sole offered at Osprey Seafood Market in Napa. While they don’t always have Dover Sole available, they regularly have impeccable Petrale Sole. We tried it, and I enjoy it as much now as I did the Dover Sole prepared by M. Ducloux.
Barbara calls Osprey before we visit, to ensure that the Petrale is fresh that day. The last time we were there, one of the owners held up the whole fish and reported that it had been swimming in the ocean the day before. They clean and filet it, and we tote it home in a bag full of ice. Her preparation is simple and delicious. I’ve copied it below. She serves it with a homemade lemon-butter sauce. Sometimes she lightly breads it, then serves it with Tartar sauce.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is that you serve it with a fresh, lively red wine. I especially like it with our Vista Notre Zinfandel. The bright, berry flavors just seem to bring out the delicacy of the fish, while the texture cuts through the sauce. If there is a food purveyor near you who offers freshly caught Petrale Sole, try Barbara’s preparation. And take my advice — try it with a bottle of Neyers 2018 Vista Notre Zinfandel.
Sautéed Petrale Sole with Lemon Butter
- ½ cup flour
- 6 3 to 4 ounce skinless, boneless sole fillets
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Juice from one lemon
- One lemon cut into wedges with seeds removed
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Place flour on a plate. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper and dredge fish in flour, shaking off excess.
While cooking the fish, melt 3 to 4 tablespoons of butter, and add juice from the lemon.
Sauté the fillets in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Serve immediately with the lemon butter and a wedge of lemon.
Neyers Vista Notre Zinfandel
From The Wine Spectator June 30, 2020:
“Sleek and floral, featuring precise cherry and cranberry flavors, with peppery anise accents. Snappy tannins show on the finish. Drink now through 2026. 981 cases made. Score: 90 POINTS”