Au Fil du Zinc 

18 Rue des Moulins 

89800 Chablis, France

Tel. +33 3 86 33 96 39 


The Food:

Beet gazpacho; fresh goat cheese, tomato salad

Clavisy lamb; zucchini, mashed garlic confit, onion mix with herbs

Mille-feuille; Diplomate cream, cherries

The Wine:

2008 Domaine François Raveneau Chablis Chapelot 1er Cru          92

Au Fil du Zinc is a local institution in Chablis. The place to go. Inventive cuisine, a killer wine list and a casual, fun atmosphere make Au Fil du Zinc a must for readers visiting Chablis.

On this summer night, I was alone, so I dined at the small bar. But Au Fil du Zinc is the sort of place where you are bound to run into someone you know, and so I did, when Tim Atkin MW walked in a few minutes after me.

Beet gazpacho; fresh goat cheese, tomato salad.

Chef Ryo Nagahama worked alongside Joël Robuchon and Yannick Alleno before bringing his considerable talents to Chablis. What I enjoy most about Nagahama's cooking is a certain simplicity, which isn't really simplicity, but more of a minimalist aesthetic and lightness that is all about exalting a few ingredients in each dish, rather than the more overly elaborate approach that is often found in France. Fabien Espana runs the dining room and adjacent wine shop with tremendous enthusiasm and charisma. 

Clavisy lamb; zucchini, mashed garlic confit, onion mix with herbs.

Guests can choose from several tasting menu options. There are two wine lists: the general list and then a Reserve selection of mouth-watering gems that are strictly limited to one bottle per table. I won’t tell you what I paid for the wines I have had most recently here, as you might want to strangle me….

Reservations have always been essential, but they are even harder to come by these days because Espana has reduced the number of covers he takes each service in order to better focus on his guests. Needless to say, planning ahead is a must. Even more importantly, Espana told me Au Fil du Zinc will close later in 2020 as Nagahama will be returning to his native Japan. Chablis is a small town. Make that a tiny town. To say that this news has caused considerable consternation amongst the locals would be a massive understatement. To be sure, the partnership between Nagahama and Espana has worked brilliantly over the years. I suppose all things must come to an end, but I hope Espana can find a way to keep Au Fil du Zinc going. For now, Espana plans to continue operating his sister restaurant, Les Trois Bourgeons, which is certainly solid, but not at the same level (or ambition) as Au Fil du Zinc.

Mille-feuille; Diplomate cream, cherries.

Once settled in at the bar, I opted for the simple three-course menu out of a sense of discipline, but in reality I would have very much preferred to try everything. I loved the beet gazpacho with goat cheese and fresh tomatoes. It was a refreshing and delicious summer starter. The Clavisy lamb was cooked perfectly and bursting with flavor. I don’t often order dessert, but I do love cherries in the summer, so the mille-feuille was an obvious choice. The crisp, flaky pastry, sweet Diplomat cream and spiced cherries all complemented each other so well. In a word: scrumptious.

Raveneau bottles their Chablis Chapelot 1er Cru, from a climat within Montée de Tonnerre, only occasionally.

Raveneau's 2008 Chablis Chapelot 1er Cru emerges from the lower slopes of Montée de Tonnerre, where the warmer micro-climate results in a relatively open-knit Chablis that can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring. It is a wine the Raveneau family bottles only occasionally. In tasting, the 2008 is light on its feet and airy, with soft curves that bring out the orchard fruit, citrus, mint and floral flavors nicely. The 2008 Chapelot is not a truly epic Raveneau Chablis, but it is very delicious. We polished it off pretty quickly. I would prefer to drink the 2008 over the next handful of years, as I don’t see the structure or depth to support longer aging.

Readers who have a chance to visit Au Fil du Zinc owe it to themselves to do so. In my book, the food, wine and overall ambiance are pretty hard to beat. I confess in the past I have also made the one-hour drive from Beaune just to have dinner here. It was well worth the trip, and then some.