A (very) long lunch in Monpazier

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:

Just outside Monpazier's stone walls sits the Bistrot 2.

Just outside Monpazier’s stone walls sits the Bistrot 2.

And here’s a view from our table, looking toward the village of Monpazier across the courtyard:

Looking out towards the wall that defines Monpazier.

Looking out towards the wall that defines Monpazier.

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:

A canopy of vines shades the patio.

A canopy of vines shades the patio.

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:

A great salad for a non-salad guy.

A great salad for a non-salad guy.

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:

The lamb was incredibly tender, and the sauce was rich and delicious.

The lamb was incredibly tender, and the sauce was rich and delicious.

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:

The restaurant's Coupe Périgord was -- well -- yummy!

The restaurant’s Coupe Périgord was — well — yummy!

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.


This entry was posted in Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Markets in France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Weather in the Dordogne, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A (very) long lunch in Monpazier

  1. Samandjill Hershfield says:

    You always give us something to Google


    • loren24250 says:

      Aha! I know I’ve described bastide towns in the past (or at least I think I have…), but I wanted to keep the post from getting too long. Anyway, bastide towns are indeed interesting, and while many people think Domme (near us) is the “classic,” I always think that Monpazier is just about the perfect bastide town.

  2. David says:

    Les glycines have long pods after the flowers.
    Jealous as heck that I couldn’t have that long lunch…

  3. loren24250 says:

    Thanks, David. There must be a special type of wisteria with the pods, because the ones I see around Daglan are pod-free. Must investigate.

  4. loren24250 says:

    Thanks for that link, David — very helpful. I guess the wisterias I see around here (including our own) must be a different variety, without the exploding pods!

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