Our good friends from Toronto, Keith and Kathy, arrived at the Gourdon train station late yesterday afternoon, and so of course last night we had the big fat feed at our house: a dinner of seared foie gras, rabbit in mustard sauce, a cheese course and chocolate mousse.
Today, our first full day together, we had chosen to have lunch at Le Grand Bleu in Sarlat, which I’m pretty sure is the restaurant closest to Daglan that has earned a Michelin star. It was the first experience at Le Grand Bleu for my wife and me, but there’s no doubt we’ll have many others in future. The key reason: an explosion of delicious and unusual tastes in every dish.
Le Grand Bleu is located on a hill just a few hundred metres down from the Sarlat SNCF train station. It’s an interesting mix of typical local architecture — stone walls and so on — with modern trimmings, including bold sculptural art. Here’s the entrance:
The atmosphere inside was calm and quiet, but not stuffy. Decorations, like a small bowl of roses on the table, were subtle. Service was provided by just two servers, so it was a bit brisk; it certainly lacked the flourishes and over-the-top preening that we’ve experienced in a variety of Michelin two-star and three-star restaurants. At Le Grand Bleu, the star is clearly the food rather than the ambience.
Each of us chose the 45-euro menu, which included a mise en bouche (a starter before the entrée); a choice betweeen two entrées; a plat principal of either fish or meat; and dessert. For the mise en bouche, each of us received a small bowl of two-layered soup, intensely flavoured with shellfish — the hot soup topped with a cold, creamy foam. Then, each of us had the langoustines juste saisies — just barely cooked, and then served with an amazing mix of accompaniments, including deep-fried celery leaves, a savoury sauce made from fromage blanc, and an ice cream (yes!) made with shellfish. Absolutely delicious:
Then came the entrées: for Kathy and my wife, the seared scallops with a variety of exotically flavoured sauces that looked (and they said) tasted beautiful. Here’s the dish:
For Keith and me, it was the filet de boeuf, served with swirls of mousseline made up of celeriac and hazelnuts, which emphasized the earthiness of the beef, and finished with a shallot sauce and port reduction. The verdict: rich and delicious. Here it is:
And (almost) finally, the dessert. For Kathy, my wife, and me: a complex construction of caramelized pink grapefruit segments and crunchy biscuits, with both citrus and chocolate sauces and rosemary (yes!) ice cream. (Chocolate-loving Keith, on the other hand, had the beignets au chocolat with a crème anglaise sésame, plus some chocolate sorbet to finish it all off.) Here is the grapefruit-centric dessert:
And here is Keith’s dessert:
As I said, even dessert wasn’t the absolute end, because with our coffees we were served tuiles of caramelized sugar, small chocolate candies and homemade marshmallows — flavoured with beets.
As you might guess, when we arrived home in Daglan, it was time for a snooze.