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Bordeaux, Lot & Dordogne

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Restaurants & Bars

Bordeaux, Lot & Dordogne

yvonne johnson | Jul 11, 2001 04:14 PM

Bordeaux

Café Régent: Not many places open on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago. This brasserie was. Marinated salmon with dill. Roast lamb—a cut I’d not seen before, resembled a filet steak. Unadorned and wonderful. A bargain—150F for three courses. St Julien les Fiefs de Lagrange 1998. Oh how good wine tastes in France. Air Fance’s existential problems (“yes, you are checked in and now on the waiting list for the flight you booked months ago”) solved as we're here on place Gambetta.

The Grand Théâtre restaurant. Foie gras (heaviest, richest I had over the ten day stay). Braised pork in dense reduction. Light desserts, e.g., compote with nuts. The dining-room is grand, chandeliers and so on, but service is not formal. Around 250F each (not including wine).

Nlle Part Ailleur brasserie, 19 cours du Maréchal-Foch. Excellent salad: prawns, salmon, avocado, greens. And ice cold beer. It was hitting 90 degrees.

The full name escapes me: ends in “Dupont”, behind Cité Mondiale. Rouget (red mullet) app served cold; duck with foie gras, and best cherry clafoutis I’ve ever had. Good house wine by the jug.

Didn’t manage to get to La Tupina, praised on this board, but the locals with whom we dined one night said it is still really good as is Le Chapon Fin.

[Hotel Libertel Claret is a good place for a conference something my better half was attending (but why they need three whole days to discuss the brain beats me). Rooms comfortable. Breakfast on the terrace has panoramic views. Near the Jardin Public and the rue de Notre Dame (off the beaten tourist track) that has some really good grocers and patisseries. ]

Cahors
C. is a beautiful town, surrounded by the Lot with a stunning bridge, Pont Valentré, however, this doesn’t appear to be a good place to eat. Le Balandre, restaurant in Hotel Terminus, gets raves, but I’m in total agreement with jason (post last year). This place severely disappoints. Amuse set the tone. A large soup plate with raw grated vegetables in center surrounded by sweet, horrid, asparagus soup accompanied by a cheese crisp. The flavors did not come together, and none was particularly good on its own. Same went for seafood app: plate was crowded with herring roe, a large chunk of white fish, two shrimp, crab mixed with avocado . Nothing linked the components of this dish. Sweetbreads main course was flavorless. Palate cleanser was inedible: apricot jam-like substance. Thank goodness for cheese and dessert. The latter resembled ice-cream, chocolate sliders of my youth and was pretty wonderful. Service: Florence Nightingale’s maxim that nurses should walk, never run should be extended to waiters. A head waiter who darts around all night can unsettle the stomach. Restaurant is fussily decorated which is a pity as the stained glass windows could speak for themselves.
[Room at Terminus clean, large, but a bit dark. ]

A better dinner can be found at one of the brasseries on the main street, Boulevard Gambetta. Enrecôte and frites went down a treat. I’d not tired cahors wine before. Interesting, dry and deep red.

St-Cirque-Lapopie
I had a perfect mesclun, tomato, prosciutto salad at Auberge du Somral. This might be good place to stay. Even better might be the three starred, 13th century La Pelissaria that we walked past.
Of all the villages that are built into the cliffs in this area, this one is the most stunning. Even the run down church, still in use, can move an atheist. I quote from “Cadogan’s” guide on Southwest France by Dana Facaros and Micheal Pauls (I highly recommend by the way) “St-Cirque…hovers 330ft above the Lot, overlooking the kind of dramatic, sheer cliffs beloved of Romantic poets. Its architecture is pure, harmoniously medieval—and rigorously preserved and protected”. André Breton said of the village “I no longer have the desire to be anywhere else”.
[Nearby is the Grotte du Pech-Merle with its 25, 000 year old cave drawings. Worth seeing.]

Rocamadour
Very fine cassoulet at Sainte-Marie, half way up the cliff.
[Unlike St-Cirque, R, is Disneylandish is parts, but if you go beyond the Chapels, and walk higher and higher to the Château passing the Stations of the Cross--who knew there were more than 12? Or are these to torture you a bit more, just when you think you’ve reached the end?—you will lose many of the tourists. Very, very vertiginous at the summit.]

Sarlat
Hostellerie de Maysset, just outside Sarlat, offered consistently very good to excellent meals. Yes, there were dishes elsewhere that, singly, surpassed those at H de M, but no dish here disappointed, and one was sublime. We had dinner here twice. The best pâte de foie gras I’ve tasted, with a few tiny cubes of delicate aspic and walnut bread. Cassoulet; rabbit with prunes and home made pasta; goose stew; walnut icecream; prunes soaked in brandy with cream, and leaving the best till last: walnut soufflé. If there is a platonic form of a dessert, this must come close. Menus 150-300F.
The restaurant’s no-frills terrace overlooks the valley. It’s magical at night watching the slow, setting sun cast longer and longer shadows over the fields and farm houses.

[The rooms at H de M: clean, a bit dowdy.
To see: Lascaux II may be a replica of the closed, deteriorated original cave, but the site's drawings are brilliant. The colors, I’d never imagined, and the size of these bison and horses, and so many.
A warning: Visited nearby animal park, Le Thot Cro-Magnon. In the meantime someone tried to break into our rented car. door lock was totally knackered, kaput. According to the custodian this happens a lot in the summer. Interesting visit to the local gendarmerie to file a report. Underfunded takes on a new meaning. These poor sods can't pay for replacement ink cartridges for their old computers.]

St-Émillion
Chateau Grand-Barrail, a couple of miles outside St E.
Lobster with a refreshing light broth, a little strong on the lemon. Terrific ravioli with foie gras. Delicious pigeon. Lamb with cumin crust. Cheese (i love the cabecu) board was the most extensive we’d seen. Desserts didn’t impress me much.
Very expensive. Is it worth it? Mixed view. My husband thought it was the best meal we’d had on this trip. I guess my heart was still in Sarlat.
[Striking building on the outside, but inside it felt a little sterile. A chateau doesn’t seem to be the right place for automatic, glass front doors. That said, the rooms are luxurious. And I did get my cat-fix while separated from our own ones. A little stray cat joined us at the outside pool. Precariously balanced at the corner she lapped up the pool water. She rejected the evian I offered. Who knows what goes through a cat’s mind when it comes to food and drink.]

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