Our six nights in Sarlat, Dordogne- March 2012
Dordogne Restaurant Trip Report
We had decided in advance to have lunch as our main meal while in the Dordogne. The selection of restaurants open outside of Sarlat where we were staying seemed greater than in town and the cuisine I think lends itself to a major meal in the middle of the day. Also though we can pick different dishes we generally trade so we each have every dish we order.
Mar 14- Le Chapon Fin in Brive- Lunch (http://www.lechaponfin.com
) We took a train to Brive-le-Gaillarde on our way to Sarlat. Since we arrived while the rental car place was closed for lunch we schlepped our bags down the hill from the train station to Le Chapon Fin for lunch. They very kindly let us put our suitcase in their held luggage area and set up a table for us on the enclosed patio.
For entrees we chose ‘Crespéou de légumes antipasti’ (which was an assortment of bruschetta) and salmon fume. The bruschetta was with roasted vegetables (eggplant, peppers and tomatoes), fresh mozzarella, basil oil and parmesan. It as well as the salmon fume were served with an herb salad with that fabulous acidic French vinaigrette. The salmon fume came with horseradish crème fraiche, a dab of wasabi (that the server warned us about), several slices of beets topped with a tartare of scallops with horseradish and apple. Both dishes were excellent.
For plats, my DH chose the Cote de Veau which came topped with a slice of liver, roasted potatoes and a roasted caponata with eggplant, whole garlic cloves, red onion and tomato. I chose a risotto with scallops and ‘jus de homard corsé’ which came with a few slices of fried coppa ham.
We started with two glasses of champagne and had a bottle of Château Boyer Rosé Bergerac. The tab was around 90 euros.
Mar 15- Le Pres Galliardou in Le Roque-Gageac-Lunch (http://www.les-pres-gaillardou.com
) After a visit to Roque-Gageac we stopped at Le Pres Galliardou for lunch. We had a lovely meal though it would have been nice to sit outside instead of in the dining room.
We had the duo of Foie Gras with figs and a terrine of goose with shallot confit for entrees. The foie gras was split between a terrine and a piece of seared liver. The fig was also a duo with one fig that had been steeped in a spiced sauce and a little savory tart of figs. Both dishes were very good.
We ordered the duck (which came with the breast seared rare and the leg as a confit) and the coq au vin. The coq au vin had a wonderful dark sauce with baby onions and carrots as well as mashed potatoes. It reminded me of dishes in a restaurant I worked in when I was younger.
Desserts were an apple tart (which came with slices of apples on top of an apple puree and then the pastry) and mango & lemon sorbets with fruit.
We had two half bottles of Bergerac in red and white and a glass of Monbazillac with the foie gras. The tab came to 92.50 euros- one three course menu at 26 Euros and the other at 19.50.
Mar 16- La Gabarre in St Julien- Lunch (http://www.restaurantlagabarre.com/
)We were lucky to be able to sit on the terrace in the sun overlooking the Dordogne River. Sometimes you wonder what the elements are that make a restaurant so appealing to you. For this one it was easy to see- the food was wonderful, the setting idyllic and the patronne welcoming, friendly and fluent in English but willing to speak French to us. We liked this place so much that when we were having a hard time finding an open place in Sarlat our last night we returned which is unusual for us.
We ordered the seared foie gras (see a trend here?) with prunes and the presse of pintade with pistachios and foie gras. The foie gras was the best piece we had on this trip. The presse was very good and an interesting dish. I asked how it was made and am considering trying to replicate it.
For plats we got the saddle of lamb with flowering thyme and potatoes and the pork with a mustard glaze and lentils. Though not something we would normally order out the combination of the mustard glaze and the lentils really worked well with the pork.
Dessert was a caramel tart with chocolate ganache and Stracciatella ice cream and a coffee ice cream as well as a coffee. We also shared two half bottles of wine- a Percharmant and a white Bergerac. The tab was 80 euros- one three course menu at 35 Euros and the other at 19.50.
Mar 17- Rossignol-Sarlat-Dinner (no website- phone 05 53 31 02 30)
On Saturday we decided to spend the day in Sarlat since that was the market day. Our choices were limited since a number of restaurants were either closed for vacation or not open for the season. We tried to get reservations at Le Grand Bleu but they were fully booked for that night. On the recommendation of the rental agency we went to Restaurant Rossignol. This was our least favorite place of the time we spent in the Dordogne but I am not sure how much of that is what we selected for wine and a few deficiencies in the service.
We started with a half bottle of Billetcart champagne which was slightly maderized. We probably should have complained but this was part of the deficiencies of services in that the server opened the champagne and poured it without giving us a chance to try it. Like I said just slightly maderized so drinkable.
We started with an escallop of foie gras which was served with mushrooms & Sarladaise potatoes and a Soupe de Poisson with all the trimmings. The portion sizes were larger than usual and my DH felt that the foie gras could have been a plat. Both were excellent though the soupe de poisson wasn’t as good as the one we have had at Alain Assaud in St Remy.
Our entries were a Cote de Veau and a Filet de Veau with wild mushrooms. Both plats came with the same accompaniments which were Brussels sprouts, zucchini, carrots, potatoes and ziti. I thought the filet was slightly better than the cote but both were very good. In retrospect we should have ordered a Bergerac red to go with this meal but decided on a Medoc. It just wasn’t to our taste so added to the negative feelings of the evening.
Desserts were a crème caramel which is one of my favorite dessert and a cassis sorbet followed by an Armagnac for my DH.
Honestly when I think back to this meal I can’t really complain too much since I think the problems were things we could have changed but didn’t. With the more expensive wines and ordering one meal a la carte this was our most expensive meal in the Dordogne at 161 Euros.
Mar 18- L’Auberge de l’Etang Joli- Eyzies- Lunch (http://www.auberge-de-letang-joli.fr/...
)We spent the morning at Lascoux II and were planning on an afternoon visit to the prehistory museum in Les Eyzies. Someone had recommended the Le Moulin de la Beune but of course it was closed when the website said it was opened. So we pulled out the Michelin guide and tried to find something else. The first place on the list was also closed so we tried the second. It was a ways out of town and down a little road but it was open. When we entered L’Auberge de l’Etang Joli it was like entering someone’s house. There were four tables of deuces already dining. The patronne, Isablle Montfort,came to explain the ‘deal’ which was in more rapid French than we could follow. We asked if she spoke English and she said ‘non’ then looked around the dining at the other patrons who all shook their heads ‘no’. She explained again slowly and we understood and agreed to a soup, charcuterie, plat, fromage and dessert for 25 euros served en famille. That also included an aperitif and a carafe of wine. This was the deal of the week!
The patronne cleared a couple of places at one of the tables where the deuce must have just arrived because they hadn’t had their soup yet. The aperitif was a kir rouge which was followed in short order by a tureen of crème of ail. The only reason I know that was the soup was when we left we notice a sign board with the menu on it. It was very good as was the whole meal.
The charcuterie was two large terrines which were obviously made there. She also produced a jar of pork rillettes, something with duck and a jar of homemade cornichons and tiny onions. Bread was provided and we went to town.
The plat was a large platter with a piece of Limousin beef with green peppercorn sauce on a large pile of Sarladaise potatoes. The beef was rare which was amazing since the pieces were fairly thin and the potatoes were crispy on the edges. It was wonderful with the carafe of Bergerac red of unknown provenance.
The fromage was a disc of Cabecou de Rocamadour which was a little young for my taste. The other tables had gotten an apple tart for dessert served with a crème anglais but we were served a walnut cake. It was good but that apple tart looked amazing. Since she had already cut the cake we were out of luck on the tart.
The other part of this meal that was very enjoyable for us was the camaraderie in the dining room. Our tablemates were also new to the restaurant but everyone on the other side of the room seemed to know each other. There was a lot of joking going on between every one. The patronne would sit and talk with people and the guests at the next table were her mother and uncle. I have no idea how she did the cooking and the serving as well.
Mar 19- La Gabarre-St Julien-Dinner
Our last night in Sarlat, we decided that we would return to La Gabarre for dinner. The other restaurants we were interested in Sarlat were closed for one reason or another. It was a cool evening so dinner was served indoors in a lovely room with a fire in the fireplace. There were a number of returning guest and a group that we had met that morning at Font de Gaume.
We started with two kir royale with peche for me and mure for my DH.
This was our fish night. Our entrees were a Bouillon of shellfish with orzo and octopus and a risotto with crab and ‘butternut’. The bouillon was amazing with very tender piece of octopus. The risotto was also good but I didn’t understand where the ‘butternut’ came in.
My DH selected cod steamed with endive and leek with an herb butter sauce. I chose the shrimp and dorade with polenta with coconut milk, ginger and a sate sauce. My dish won! It was really more to my taste than the cod. We had a bottle of local white wine made by a woman vintner which shows on the receipt as Miss Blanc. It was a lovely wine.
Desserts were an apple and kiwi crumble with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate tart which was strongly flavored with coffee and Stracciatella ice cream. My DH had an Armagnac which brought the tab to 112 euros. The menus were 35 and 28 euros.
Another place we would like to recommend is the wine store on Place Pasteur called Julien de Savignac. The sales person was very helpful with selecting local wines.
What a wonderful review of your trip. You are making me long to go to the Dordogne. Even Sunday's cassoulet doesn't help after reading this tasty description. ;)
Sounds as if you had some nice meals, but based upon what you paid I guess I can't afford the Sarlat area.
I can go to a Michelin one star further South & pay less than 100€ for lunch for two including decent wines.
A nice lunch at a good restaurant will set us back between 20-30€, again with wine.
Cheap & cheerful places where the local artisans eat will be under 15€ with 1/4 of wine.
The Dordogne is a beautiful place, but somewhat spoiled by the number of ex-pats & tourists.Hopefully, neither will find our area in any numbers.
Some of us are not ex-pats or tourists in the Dordogne, and I think you can indeed eat more cheaply here than you seem to feel. I think AGM was having a good time and ordering some of the more expensive items (and perhaps eating from the Carte, rather than the Menu.) I'm amazed that their meal at the Rossignol cost so much, but I suspect that a great deal of it was wine.
One of our great pleasures in traveling is dining out. We save all year long for our trips and then indulge ourselves. As you suspect at Rossignol the wine was the reason for the high cost. In many places we had one menu and the other ordered from the Carte. It depended upon what was on the menu and what dishes interested us. One problem for us at that time of year was that a number of restaurants were closed and I suspect they were in the lower price bracket.
Great information thank you.
I live about 20 minutes south of Perigueux. My 3 favourite restaurants are L'Essential, Au Grain du Sel & L'Estaminet. Le Gabarre is just a bit too far & sadly Sarlat is too much of a tourist town from May to September.
A delightful auberge is Lou Peyrol in St Marcel du Perigord but that is a good 50 minutes plus from Sarlat.
The Vieux Logis is always a winner !