This winstub was founded in 1873, but it was Yvonne Haller who, running the place from 1954 to 2001, gave it institution status as “the Lipp of Strasbourg” (the reference is to the famously snooty Paris brasserie). Haller treated the winstub like her living room, padding around in carpet slippers, acting cozy with the artists and politicians she liked, and icy to everyone else. t would have made no sense for restaurateur Jean-Louis de Valmigère, Chez Yvonne’s new owner, to keep the name but change the look—the look, after the name, was what he paid for. It’s all still there, down to the last stork engraving. The banquettes are as cruelly padless as ever. The food is another story. Inserted into the menu are all sorts of irresistible things that are as alien to winstube as hamburgers, like a tartare of scallops and vegetables. Chez Yvonne is still basically what it was under its matriarch, but Valmigère is a businessman (he owns the disputed Zuem Strissel plus a Strasbourg taqueria, a stain he seems to have survived), and he wants it both ways: winstub + “modern bistro.” The regional dishes have nothing to apologize for. Slices of stuffed goose neck—a mixture of ground meats, pistachios, and foie gras sewn into the bird’s neck skin—are served on a block of lentils. Smoked brisket draws on the microcuisine of the Alsatian Jews. There’s something cavemanish, in a good way, about the pork shank braised in beer and orange bitters, its gelatinous sleeve of fat shrunk back like a fallen sock. Hold the sautéed potatoes.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.