From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Restaurant Michel Bras

Sohm looks at the color and how fine the mousse is — the fine streams of bubbles — a sign of great quality.

Wine and Spirits

How to Drink Grower Champagne

Legendary sommelier Aldo Sohm on rarer bubbles.

Tonga Room, San Francisco.

Wine and Spirits

The Sweet Escape

On the enduring allure of the tiki bar.

The Perfect Pour

Wine and Spirits

The Perfect Pour

A deep dive into the world of Macallan Scotch whisky.

From a distance Restaurant Michel Bras looks like a flying saucer that has made a precarious landing on a lush green hillside. And your first impression on arriving is that the contemporary decor is unnervingly ascetic—at odds with the sylvan setting. But all dissonance dissolves in the glass-walled dining room, where the Olympian view (eye-level clouds scuttling over the endless, empty countryside, a fireworks of sunset gilding) makes you understand that here the architecture is the backdrop. The decor is the setting.

Last year Michelin awarded the proprietor, Michel Bras, his third star. The meal I had here was one of the best I've eaten in my 14 years in France. Among the highlights: cèpes, girolles, and green beans in truffle oil; sea bream cooked on a piece of heated slate; and aligot, Laguiole cheese curds whipped with boiled potatoes, a regional specialty made daily by Bras' mother.

The self-taught Bras, 53, is a native of Laguiole (population 1,264). As if to emphasize his attachment to the area, he has adopted as the restaurant symbol a local wild fennel that dies if exposed to synthetic fertilizer or pesticide. Far removed from fatuous Parisian quarrels over the future of French cooking, Bras believes in judicious modernization. "There have always been foreign influences in France," he states. "You can't take the cumin out of Alsatian cooking, for example, even though it's a spice that is not native to the region." It is that sort of common culinary sense that makes Michel Bras so refreshing, and probably allows him to achieve such a balance between rusticity and sophistication, tradition and creativity. He knows that "le bonheur est dans le pré" (the best place to look for happiness is in your own pastures). Opens on April 5th. Dinner for two: $85-$250. Rooms: $165-$300. Route de l'Aubrac; 33-5-65-51-18-20; fax 33-5-65-48-47-02.


Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.

Come On In

U.S. issued American Express Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members, enter the first six digits of your card number to access your complimentary subscription.

Learn about membership.