Le Soleil – Stunning food and wine

Le Soleil – Introduction

There is a restaurant very close to Beaune in Burgundy for which we hold a special place in our hearts. It is a great place to dine and it is also emblematic of much that can be said about the natural wine movement. The town to visit is Savigny-les-Beaune which is very close to Beaune – just a few kilometres away. The venue is a restaurant called Le Soleil.

The restaurant and accommodation here is owned by Lola Taboury-Bize who also acts as sommelier for the restaurant.

The chefs are our friends Laila Aouba and Svante Forstorp who, between them, have cooked in a number of our favourite restaurants in France. Our recent meal was a triumph of vegetable-centric dishes of perfect precision in the execution of each component and the depth of flavour that they were able to coax out of each vegetable.

The chefs for this venture are two people with a close connection with the natural wine world. We first met Laila Aouba when she was working in Arles with our friend Luke Burgess who opened the first all-natural wine restaurant in Australia, namely the famous Garagistes in Hobart.

We had spent a lot of time with Luke prior to the restaurant opening (in 2010) as we were already importing natural wines at that time (the late 2000s). He clearly saw that it would be weird to spend lots of time and effort sourcing organic food items and then serving wine that was made from grapes that had been sprayed. The purity of natural wines appealed to him.

After closing Garagistes, Luke spent time in France and London doing interesting pop-ups and it was in Arles where we came across him on one of our wine buying trips. It was at this time that Laila was working with him when we first met her.

We first met Svante in a well-known natural wine venue, namely Aux Deux Amis in the 11th in Paris. This is one of the longest running natural wine venues in France and Svante was an early chef in this place creating amazing food in a tiny, tiny kitchen. We then followed him to a number of other Parisian restaurants including Vivant and Achille with Pierre Jancou (another natural wine connection) and later to Yard where he and Laila met when she came to work there.

And now they are at Le Soleil together and turning out beautiful food using the very best organic produce. We went there on a recent France trip for what turned out to be a memorable lunch where many of the dishes were based on vegetables such as the salad dish shown below:

Salad dish at Le Soleil
The kitchen crew with Svante and Laila on the left

It was a truly beautiful meal, drunk with Totem, a macerated Chenin Blanc grown in Burgundy and made by Jonathan Purcell (@vin.noe). We’re willing to bet that’s a wine you will find on very few lists.

We have included Le Soleil in our story about where to eat outside Paris. You can read more about the food and the accommodation on their own Web site.