Thursday is market day in the lovely (and fairly touristy) bastide town of Monpazier, about a 40-minute drive from our home base in Daglan. This past Thursday morning turned out to be sunny and beautiful, so my wife Jan and I headed to Monpazier to check out the market (lots of people, not much buying, Jan was told by one of the vendors we know).
Then my plan was to have lunch at Bistrot 2, despite some misgivings.
In my post of September 3, 2010 — amazingly, almost four years ago — I raved about Bistrot 2. I said it had all three essentials that make for a really good restaurant: consistently nice food; pleasant surroundings; and prompt, attentive service.
But in a few visits since that review, we’ve found that service levels have declined considerably, so that Jan and I no longer head automatically for Bistrot 2 when we’re in Monpazier. And so it was this past Thursday — with long waits between courses.
In fairness, the quality of the food and the fact that we weren’t in any hurry on such a nice day made up for the slow service.
Another plus was an encounter with two women originally from Toronto, who lingered at the table next to ours after lunch and chatted with us for quite a while over coffees. It turned out that we had a lot in common (including my early career at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, where one of the two women worked).
And now, the restaurant: Bistrot 2 sits on a large stone courtyard, across from the walls that surround Monpazier, near the main parking lot, so it’s easy to find. Here’s how it looks:
And here’s a view from our table, looking toward the village of Monpazier across the courtyard:
The day was as hot as blazes, but we stayed nice and cool under the vines that completely cover the patio. I’m not sure what they are — they look a bit like wisteria (la glycine in French) but they have long seed pods that hang down and occasionally bop someone on the head. Here’s the shady covering:
Jan and I reviewed the menu while sipping our apéritifs — a flute of Champagne for her, a kir framboise (with raspberry syrup) for me — and chose the three-course Menu Bistrot 2, at 27.75 euros each, plus a bottle of Clos des Verdots rosé from the Bergerac area.
Jan’s entrée was a hot cream of asparagus soup that she thought was excellent, and mine was an amazing composed salad, with lots of little tidbits like foie gras and smoked salmon and a few slices of dehydrated tomato that were actually delicious. I’m not much of a salad person, but this one was pretty close to perfect as a way to start the meal:
As our main courses, both of us had the lamb with spring vegetables. I remember that this dish took a very long time to arrive at our table, despite the fact that the lamb must be cooked slowly for a long time, and so it must have been prepared in advance. Still, it was worth the wait, as the meat was beautifully tender and the sauce was rich and delicious. Here’s my dish:
For dessert, we both had the Coupe Périgord, the restaurant’s special sundae. Périgord is the old name for the Dordogne, our département, and the name in relation to desserts usually means that there are walnuts and/or walnut liqueur somewhere within. And there were:
So when all was said and done, we left the restaurant satisfied and happy. But even at the very end, I had to go into the restaurant to find our server, get the bill, and pay. Someone needs to devote a bit more attention to staffing at Bistrot 2.