Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime – Chez Eric, Montfuron
We have pledged to visit a different hostelry in the locale every Friday for the next year and bring to you, our passionately interested readers, our rating and assessment of each and every one.
Yes. It’s a restaurant review.
We have two rules :
1. If there is a Plat du Jour (special of the day) one of us must order it
2. Rule one does not apply if the Plat du Jour is Andouillette.
(Andouillette is basically intestines wrapped up in a sausage skin. I’ve never eaten it, but the LSH has resolutely tried it a couple of times, trying to figure out what the French see in it. The last time, I sat in between the LSH and the ED as they both sampled andouillette in the Café du Cours in Reillanne. The waiter had extolled its virtues, and convinced them that it was “very, very special.” I might as well have been sitting in a cowhouse – that’s what it smelt like. Both of them tried hard to like it, that day, and both agreed it was in a lovely sauce, but it still ..um.. tasted like it smelled.)
So, no, thank you France, you make great food, but we’re steering clear of the andouillette from now on.
Our very first venue for TFIL is Chez Eric, in Montfuron, a couple of miles from our house in Les Granons.
Montfuron is a tiny village perched on top of the eastern end of the Luberon massif, looking out over the valley of the once-mighty Durance river. I’m sure it’s crazy busy in the summer, but at this time of the year, it’s a sleepy little place, consisting of a village square with a cluster of stone built houses surrounding it. There’s also a gentle urban sprawl, which stretches as far as the ruined chateau above the heart of the village to the West and reaches out to the restored Mill to the North.
Chez Eric is in the corner of a house jutting into the village square. It has a lovely terrace built right into the square, but the day we visited, it was raining heavily, so the terrace was deserted.
The LSH dropped Granny and I just outside the restaurant and we went in, while he parked the Jeep. My first impression was “this is much posher than I expected!” It has a very modest exterior, which doesn’t prepare you for the smartly dressed waiting staff or the tastefully decorated interior.
Posher also meant more expensive than I expected – a three course lunch sets you back €28. There was no Plat du Jour, so we went for the main course + dessert option, at a hefty €25 per head.
We were unlucky in that we arrived just after a table of twelve, so it took the staff a while before they even got menus to us. Apart from that, though, the service was excellent – attentive, but not unctuously so.
The wine list was – well, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a wine list like this before. It was like a cross between a phone book and a large family photo album.
We did the cheap thing and went for a glass each of the house rosé. The fantastic wine list was kinda wasted on us, really.
For our entrées, I went for Carré d’Agneau – it was delicious, very rare but really tender. Granny went for Filet de Boeuf, which came sitting on a slice of braised tongue. The fillet was tasty but not so tender – she had some trouble cutting it with her arthitic hands – but the tongue was excellent, tasty and very tender. The LSH had Joue de cochon – pigs cheeks, and I think it was the Winner of the Day, absolutely delicious, melt-in-the-mouth tender, with a yummy gravy as well.
|Filet de Boeuf|
|Joue de Cochon|
The LSH and I went for Tarte au Figues for dessert – it was a winner, too! Served with a very good vanilla ice cream and a home-made Speculos biscuit, all with a light caramel sauce dribbled over the top. Granny had Baba au Rhum, which was much bigger than we all expected, but despite its size, it was very, very light and not at all filling.
|Tarte au Figues|
|Baba au Rhum, the rum was on the side,
to be poured on as required
We finished off with coffee, an espresso for me and a double espresso for the LSH. This wasn’t quite what he was expected, it was more like a triple or quadruple espresso :
|Espresso on right, Double Espresso on left|
|With iPhone for scale!|
(He always asks for a Double Espresso, but there is a huge variety in what he actually receives. The funniest happened in Morristown, NJ, when he stopped into a coffee-shop near the company offices and asked for a double espresso. The young lad serving disappeared for ages and eventually came back with the “Double Espresso” – in a 64oz (1.8 litre) cup!! Surely you’d have a heart attack if you drank that much coffee in one go!)
But back to Chez Eric. The bill came to €30 per head when the wine and coffee were added on. To be fair, Chez Eric is not a typical Provençal café, it’s a gourmet restaurant, and is priced accordingly. It’s worth splashing out there for a special occasion, but there’s better value to be found for a once-a-week treat, or indeed for a tourist lunch.
Star Rating (out of 5) :
Service : ✮✮✮✮ (they dropped one for being slow to get to us at the start)
Food : ✮✮✮✮ (Granny’s steak being a wee bit tough lost them a star)
Value : ✮✮✮ (my initial reaction was 2 stars, but I’ll be generous)
Ambiance : ✮✮✮✮ (very nice, but I think we will find better)