Yesterday my wife Jan and I had to travel to Bordeaux for an appointment and, as you might expect, we took the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lunch. (Shocked, are you?) Planning ahead, we had checked out both our latest Michelin guide as well as TripAdvisor, and settled on a place with the tongue-twisting name of Garopapilles.
For us, getting to Bordeaux means first driving 20 or 25 minutes to Sarlat from our village of Daglan. Then we travel by train for almost three hours, criss-crossing the Dordogne River multiple times as we pass through Lalinde, Bergerac and Saint-Émilion, among other towns.
Since we had to roll out of bed at 6:30, we were definitely ready for lunch on arriving in Bordeaux — in what TripAdvisor says is No. 1 of 1,777 restaurants in the city. (I can’t guarantee that someone has eaten in all 1,777 places and rated Garopapilles the best, but that’s what TripAdvisor advised.)
In any case, we truly enjoyed our time in this casual restaurant-cum-wine shop, and found the food lovely and inventive. (Trendiness warning: If you’re tired of foam, you might not be wild about the dishes here.)
First, a look into the small dining area, which has just 18 or 20 seats. Our table was the first one on the right, next to a large picture window with a view of a small terrace:
Minimal decoration in a cool, casual room.
As you enter the restaurant, you first pass through an area devoted to wine. Here’s a look at some of the shelves:
A nice selection of wines on offer.
Chef and his staff work in an open kitchen, with another cooking area beside it. Our waiter would come up to the counter to place orders and pick up dishes, like this:
Chef and his staff work in a small, open kitchen.
For lunch, there is a “market” menu with three courses (entrée, plat principal, dessert) for 35 euros, which is what we ordered. We also decided to order the wine pairings, as recommended by the sommelier, and sold by the glass. (There is a two-course menu, but … I mean … seriously?) Since we were parched from our travels, we began with a coupe of rosé Champagne (15 euros). As we sipped that, our amuse-bouche arrived.
The amuse-bouche was a small bowl of marinated trout, cut into tiny cubes, topped with a delicious mousse of topinambour (Jerusalem artichoke). It’s hard to describe how good this was, but somehow the trout beneath the smooth mousse was just a bit sweet and spicy, and the whole dish was excellent. Here it is:
Beneath the mousse, delicious morsels of marinated trout.
The entrée was a bowl containing small pieces of rouget (red mullet) sitting on top of a bed of finely cut, pencil-thin green asparagus — the first of the season — topped with a delicious foam and decorated with edible flowers. The overall effect was great, but the highlight was munching on the small, tender bits (perhaps one centimetre long?) of asparagus. Here’s my dish:
Lurking beneath, a cluster of beautiful fresh asparagus.
The next course, the main, was another surprise — a relatively small piece of chicken breast that seemed to have been cooked sous vide, accompanied by a surprising (and delicious) mix that included wafer-thin circles of white radish, artichokes, mushrooms, and onion foam. Here it is:
A great example of having many layers of flavour.
Finally we had a wonderful and refreshing dessert, which included mandarin orange segments, other fruits, small puffs of meringue, and a creamy base. Jan and I both engaged in a lot of bowl scraping as we finished dessert. Here it is:
Lots of variety: crunchy, smooth, sweet, tart — a wonderful dessert.
We did rather splash out on this meal — along with the 35-euro menu, plus the 15-euro glass of Champagne, we ordered the sommelier’s recommended wine with each course. Those glasses ranged in price from 6.50 euros each to 8.50 euros each, and all were good choices. The red wine with the plat principal was a Côtes du Rhône that we loved, so much so that we had another glass by itself before the dessert arrived. (We were in no rush to get to our late-afternoon appointment.) So when it was all done, the final tally for lunch was 177 euros.
Of course, that’s not counting what we spent on a case of the Côtes du Rhône, which is to be delivered to us in Daglan tomorrow. Yay!
Details: Garopapilles is located at 62, rue Abbé de l’Épée in the centre of Bordeaux; the phone number is 09-72-45-55-36. Because it’s so small, making a reservation would be a very smart idea.