Lest there be any confusion, entrée in French restaurants means the appetizer — not the main course, which is what entrée has come to mean in North America. It’s the entry to the meal, the starter. And today for lunch in Sarlat, at le Bistro de l’Octroi, my wife and I both had very tasty entrées that were as attractive as they were delicious.
The star of the dish was a large slice of smoked salmon (not quite as good as the salmon served at La Petite Tonnelle in Beynac, but very good indeed). At the thin end of the salmon were three small slices of lemon, arranged to look like the tail of the fish. Centred on the fish was a lovely salad of chopped avocado, on which thin curls of carrots were tangled. Then off in one corner of the plate was a tossed salad in a light vinaigrette. Finally, there was grilled bread (with rather a lot of butter) and a few small slices of cucumber, a cherry tomato, and a touch of preserved figs. Like this:
Our main courses — the plats principals — were very good too. I had veal kidneys touched with peppercorn sauce, while my wife had slices of perfectly roasted, tender venison filet, which she happily told our waiter was the best venison she’d ever had, anywhere. She gave me a tiny slice, and I agree.
Then, one more tasty treat that looked nice too: my dessert of rich rice pudding, more creamy and less “rice-y” than usual, drizzled with caramel sauce (now there’s a good idea…) and decorated with halves of grapes and slices of star fruit. Like this:
I’ve written about le Bistro de l’Octroi before, but here’s some more information, from the 2010 Michelin Guide rouge (red guide) for hotels and restaurants. Michelin gives the restaurant one couvert or place setting (a fork and a spoon), out of a possible five couverts, and that seems about right. (Note that couverts are a rank below the famed Michelin “stars,” which are given to only the very finest and most expensive restaurants.) Daglan’s own superb Le Petit Paris has two couverts plus a “Bib Gourmand” symbol, which means “good cooking at moderate prices.” So there.