Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime – Le Bistrot de Lagarde
Last year, when Anne and I were in the early days of Le Big Trek, we were due to ride through a village called Lagarde d’Apt (so called because there used to be a whole pile of missile silos there). We had heard whispers of a really good little restaurant there, and it crossed our minds that maybe, just maybe, we’d be able to tie the horses up and get a plate of food to eat outside while we watched them.
Imagine our disappointment when we found this :
A shabby old auberge, neglected and long-abandoned. Too bad, we agreed, as we ate our baguette and then continued down the empty three-lane highway which had suddenly materialised in front of us (that was for the missiles, too, it turns out).
This year, I learned that we had been ever so slightly in the wrong place. Le Bistrot de Lagarde was a mere kilometre away from where we had emerged from the woods, out onto that amazing road.
The LSH and I have been wanting to go there for ages, so when our friend Lynne called and asked if we’d like to join her and her visiting former colleagues from the US for lunch there, we jumped at the chance. We took the narrow, winding road from Rustrel towards the Plateau d’Albion and just as it opened out into that magnificent, straight three-line highway pictured above, we found the entrance to Le Bistrot de Lagarde.
A low-sized, sprawling building, with a lot of cars already parked beside it, it looked a lot more alive than that other old auberge.
We met Lynne & Co, introductions were made and we settled in for the long haul.
This place is expensive at night-time, we’ve been told, but it does a three course lunch for €18 or you can have four courses for €22. That said, there’s a hefty supplement for one or two items, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Our friends were already tucking into the wine but the waiter quickly brought some more, along with roasted pumpkin seeds, bread and prettily decorated butter – it had what looked like grated truffle on it, but it turned out to be dried olive. Nice though.
We talked and nibbled and talked and drank and told the waitress we weren’t ready to order yet and talked some more. Then we got down to the business at hand and turned our attention to the Menu du Jour.
Three of us ordered Salade de Lentilles (lentil salad), two ordered Velouté de Potimarron (Pumpkin soup) and one ordered Mousseline de Volaille (chicken mousse, but it came garnished with langoustines, those giant prawny things).
I was one of the lentil people. It was very good, the dressing was nice and sharp, and it came with a little green salad served on the side. It was served with a very thick vinaigrette, too, which was more like mayonnaise than vinaigrette, but to be honest I thought it didn’t need it, it was fine as it was.
It was great eating with these people. They’re really into their food, but in a “Wow, this is amazing, you’ve got to taste it!” way and soon the dishes were flying up and down the table as we all tried a bit of everything.
The pumpkin soup was, for me, a surprising winner. It was creamy and soupy and smooth and delicious. Where did the beige colour come from? Who knows! Who cares! It was souperb!
Fish lovers declared the Mousseline de Volaille the winner, however. I tried a bit – too much fish and not enough chicken for me. This was one of the dishes for which there was a supplementary charge – it was €4 extra. Fine if you’re into that sort of thing…
Then it was time for the main courses. We turned out to be horrifically boring and five of us ordered steak. I guess we were all craving blood, especially seeing as four of us ordered them rare.
The steaks came with a Hollandaise sauce on the side, which again I thought was superfluous, polenta chips and a fried lettuce. Fried lettuce? Hmm, interesting… but surprisingly good, it was really buttery. The steaks themselves were excellent. Cooked exactly right, tender and tasty. Oh yes, and there was a €6 supplement for those of us who wanted to eat it. A 33% surcharge is a bit hefty and very quickly turns a good value lunch into an fairly expensive lunch, but they were top-quality steaks and worth paying extra.
The only non-steak main was duck. It looked quite humble but Mary, who had ordered it, was enraptured by it.
The LSH went for the four-course menu, so he was served a plate of cheese while the rest of us waited patiently.
Finally it was time for our desserts. I went for a biscuit cornet with Mara de Bois, which is a late fruiting variety of strawberry. It’s a hybrid between wild strawberries and the normal cultivated ones, it’s delicious and it’s a real treat at this time of the year.
The other sweet choice for dessert was a chocolate creme brulée. This was served with light, lemony madeleines and chantilly. The LSH had this (I couldn’t taste it because of the chocolate) and said it was excellent, but I don’t know how anything could have been better than my strawberries!
By the time we had added on supplementary charges, coffees and wine, the total came to €35 a head. Hefty enough for lunch in this area, but a very classy meal.
Star Rating (out of 5) :
Service : ✮✮✮✮✮
Food : ✮✮✮✮✮
Value : ✮✮✮✮
Ambiance : ✮✮✮✮
Sorry for the prolonged silence and the lateness of this Thank Friday it’s Lunchtime. There’s a good reason.