In a rapidly developing and expanding city like Bordeaux a lot can happen over a 6-year span. Since I first moved here in February 2017, I’ve seen Bacalan transform from industrial wasteland into buzzing nightlife hub, the boats and warehouses lining the Quais Lawton and des Caps now occupied by half-decent clubs, bars and burger joints. I’ve seen Rue Fondaudege, which I used to refer to as la Rue de la Merde because of the potholes, barricades and mind-numbing traffic, transform into one of the city’s liveliest arteries with the arrival of the Tram D, which brought with it a rainbow of new businesses. I’ve seen Place Gambetta, once quite shady and isolated by traffic on all four sides transform into a vibrant pedestrian thoroughfare and hang-spot, the resuscitated, healthy beating heart of its eponymous quartier.
But perhaps the greatest transformation during my time in Bordeaux has been the quartier Euratlantique, south and east of Gare Saint Jean, a transformation in which I consider to have taken part through the relocation of my old job into a freshly constructed building on Quai de Paludate. When my colleagues and I first visited the site in 2019, touring the cement skeleton of our office-to-be in matching hard hats and neon “gillets jaunes”, the ‘hood still left much to be desired. The dilapidated (if iconic) nightclub La Plage, a seemingly over-ambitious Hilton, dozens of construction canes and street corners lined with ladies of the night, no doubt contemplating how all this would eventually affect their business. By the time I left that company in September this year, the Quai had transformed completely through the arrival of the stunning MECA Contemporary Art Institute and the Les Halles de Boca international food court. Pretty soon, the highway running along the river will be replaced with greenspace, a pretty promenade perfect for work lunches outside.
And one of the earliest investors in this neighborhood, who really bet everything on the success of this urban planning project was the duo behind a restaurant called Ô QG, opened in October 2016. Noël Février and Johann Schoettel, who also own Bar du Boucher and Nulle Part Ailleurs, completely renovated an abandoned building on the Quai de Paludate, establishing a spacious restaurant specialized in steak in the middle of a construction zone. These days its dining room, whose cozy decor is modelled after that of a traditional Basque cider house, swells with the salariés of surrounding businesses who come for Ô QG’s reasonably priced lunch menu.
At the core of their cuisine is a fireplace powered with natural charcoal and vine cuttings, which is used to cook quality cuts of beef, lending them a unique smoky quality. Their menu includes classics of Southwest France and France in general… a burger, a blanquette, a veal stew, two salads. But the real deal is their beef cooked à la cheminée, with a choice between entrecôte (rib eye), faux-filet (sirloin), onglet (hanger seak), cœur de rumsteak (top round) or côte de bœuf (prime rib) for two. These come with a choice of sauce (marchand de vin, gorgonzola, pepper, confit/raw shallot) and a choice of sides (duckfat fries, salad, dauphinois potatoes, green beans or mashed potatoes).
I’ve been to Ô QG a handful of times with (former) colleagues, always to celebrate a special occasion – the arrival of someone, the departure of someone, a visit from overseas. Each time, I’ve ordered the same cut and haven’t been disappointed: their 250g cœur de rumsteak (a.k.a. top round). Each time, I’ve had it with the sauce au poivre and duckfat fries, deliciously crispy and with just the right amount of salt. The meat comes on a wooden cutting board with a big-boy knife so you can hack away with ease. And its always been super tender and flavorful, perfect with a glass of whatever Médoc GCC was gracing our table.
As I begin a new adventure elsewhere in town, I won’t be around Euratlantique much. I’ll certainly miss the celebratory steaks and convivial atmosphere at this restaurant done right. Having gotten in early, Ô QG will undoubtedly be, and perhaps already is, the OG of quality eats in a brand new Bordeaux neighbohood.