I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of the Michelin system of rating restaurants. My wife Jan and I have now eaten in a host of starred restaurants in France and England, and with few exceptions, we have found that those with one, two or three stars (three is the maximum) are wonderful. Which brings me to the point of how Michelin comes up with its ratings.
There are those (including some Michelin people) who say “it’s all about the food.” To which I reply: “No, it’s not.” At other times, I say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
The fact is that the expert reviewers of Michelin rate restaurants on the same three major points that you and I rate them on: (1) Food, of course; (2) Service, ditto; and (3) Ambiance or surroundings or décor.
Obviously, the food and its cooking need to be of the highest quality but, more than that, the dishes should be inventive or creative or particularly interesting. After all, a really well-made meat loaf is still meat loaf.
Then there is service. Servers should be polite but not obsequious; food should be delivered promptly but not in a rush; explanations and descriptions should be clear. Allergies should be handled with respect.
Finally, there is the ambiance. Among the characteristics that you probably like (knowing how tasteful you are) are: tables that are well spaced; a noise level that allows for conversation rather than shouting; and at least some degree of elegance.
Which brings me to Le Gindreau, where Jan and I had lunch with our longtime friends from Toronto, Kathy and Keith, on the day before New Year’s Eve, 2015. Here is the view from our table in the corner of the restaurant’s main room — as you’ll see, it’s elegant and calm, with well spaced tables:
Inside Le Gindreau.
I have written about Le Gindreau several times in this blog, so I won’t go into much more detail. If you haven’t tried the “Search” function at the top of Radio Free Daglan, give it a shot; just type “Le Gindreau” into the bar and you’ll be served up all the postings I’ve written about the restaurant.
For now, it’s enough to say that Le Gindreau in Saint-Médard (in the Lot département, about an hour’s drive south of Daglan), is probably our favourite starred restaurant in the Greater Daglan Area, just edging out Le Grand Bleu in Sarlat and Le Vieux Logis in Trémolat.
At our end-of-year lunch, we began with glasses of Champagne, which we sipped (so to speak) with a variety of amuse-bouches, including a variety of flavoured flat breads or crisps, and tiny tarts of raw fish, and circles of squid-ink risotto:
A wonderful selection of amusements.
As an entrée, both Keith and I chose the raviolis stuffed with foie gras, which looked like this and tasted wonderful:
Tasty pockets of pastry, filled with … foie gras!
For our plat principal, both Kathy and I chose the canette — or young duckling. As you’ll see, the portion looks small, but the taste was huge. The sauce was rich, the duck was perfectly cooked, and the accompanying vegetables were delicious; they included roasted cubes of beet that were topped with shredded confit of duck. Here’s my plate:
My main course was, well, just ducky!
I’ll skip my rave review of dessert, simply because the photo didn’t come out too well, but here is our serving of mignardises — a tray of sweeties to go with the coffee.
These sweet treats didn’t last long at our table.
All along the way, service was polite and friendly and efficient. Ambiance? Quiet but not stuffy. The young sommelier is excellent, and the wine list is more than adequate.
Bottom line? I think it’s time for Michelin to upgrade Le Gindreau to two stars.