Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime – L’École Buissonière, Montjustin
This is a slightly different Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime post – you’ll see why in a moment!
This week, we decided to visit L’École Buissonière (the School of Drinking, forgive me if I have spelt it wrong) in Montjustin. Montjustin is a tiny village, perched on top of a ridge on the Eastern edge of the Lubèron. It’s most famous for having been the long-term home of Henri Cartier-Bresson, an iconic French photographer, who has been one of the LSH’s heroes for a long, long time. It is a wonderfully picturesque village, and we have walked there many times from Céreste and even ridden there a couple of times, too. The one thing it’s been lacking for many years, though, is a Café – do the 5km (uphill) hike from Céreste without bringing something to drink, and yes, you will bemoan the lack of shops or café too!
Not any more, though, this winter L’École Buissonière opened its doors to the public! Business is slow, given that it’s mid-winter, and lunch is by appointment only, so we booked in a week in advance. We mentioned it to a couple of English friends who have lived here for many years, and they said they’d love to come along too – so that’s the first Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime difference – there were four of us out for lunch.
L’École Buissonière is a very typical French small café in that it serves a set menu only. We could have asked beforehand what it was, but we decided that we’d just be surprised (and oh yes, we PRAYED it wasn’t Andouillette!)
We arrived a little after 12.30. The first thing that strikes you is that it’s tiny. There’s a small bar area and a small dining area, which had a single long table, set for seven. I’m sure that in the summer, in the height of the tourist season, they will also use the spacious terrace outside, but for our visit, it was like eating in someone’s dining room.
The other three guests – well I won’t go into details, but it turned out they were local dignitaries. They were occupying the bar area when we arrived, chowing down on bruschetta, but they greeted our friends warmly and shook hands with the LSH and I – our friends have lived in the area for many years and they know a lot of people around here! They moved on to the dining area, while we ordered drinks and sampled the bruschetta (nice!)
Not sure of the protocol (should we have sat down at the same time as the others?) we lingered at the bar while they were served their starter. We may have goofed there…
The waitress/maître D/possibly chef as well called us à table eventually and we sat down to our starter as the other guests were getting stuck into their main course. We chitchatted about this n’ that, admired their main course and looked forward eagerly to our starters… which were AMAZING! It sounds very simple, but it was soooo tasty! It was a chicken samosa with a green salad, served with that lovely dressing the French do, oil, vinegar and a hint of mustard. The samosa was all chicken – no veggie fillers added! The chicken had been shredded and marinaded in ginger and lemon… oh it was yummy! And not at all what I was expecting, it was not French country cuisine, it was French country cuisine meets the Orient halfway.
And here’s where we come to the second Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime difference.
Ummm, sorry, but we were having such fun, I forgot to take any photographs. You are just going to have to take my word for it, the food looked as good as it tasted.
The main course was no longer a surprise, because we saw the other guests eating it – it was Moules – Mussels! Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t do seafood, but in the spirit of Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime, I tucked in gamely. The mussels were served in a light curry sauce, with pommes frites (chips/French fries) on the side. Well, they were ok. But then I’m a really bad judge of seafood. Everyone else said they were great. Fair enough, they were great.
Time for dessert and coffee? Bien sûr! Oh no, dessert was chocolate mousse cake! Well, I’ll eat seafood if I have to, but sadly (tragically, in fact) I cannot eat chocolate – I will, without a doubt, get a migraine if I do. So everyone else had the chocolate mousse cake and said it was yummy.
I had coffee.
Yes, I know you all feel bad for me now. Don’t. I’m tough. I can take it.
I’m not sure how it came up, but over the course of lunch, we learned that in the Mairie next door, there are two original (signed) Cartier-Bresson photos, which the Great Man Himself donated to the local community. On seeing our interest, the waitress/maître D/possibly chef as well offered to let us in for a look – she has the key to the Mairie. We couldn’t turn down that offer, so we all trooped in and admired them. One of them was a well known one of Ile de la Cité in Paris and the other was one which really struck a chord with me – a man holding a young boy in his arms, a wonderfully expressive shot. Ask to see them if you ever visit Montjustin.
So, digestively and culturally sated, we headed home.
The cost of our lunch?
Including wine (a couple of glasses each except for the poor misfortunate LSH who had to work for the afternoon and therefore drive as well) and tip, the whole lot came €17 per head – pretty ok, really!
Would we go again? Absolument! We’ll revisit in the summer and try to remember to take photos next time…. sorry about that!
Ambiance – ✮✮✮✭ (possibly helped by the company we were with…)
Value – ✮✮✮✭