Even the most ardent lover of traditional food here in the Périgord can grow weary of cuisse de canard and magret de canard and manchons de canard. So a new Asian restaurant — like a Vietnamese restaurant that recently opened in Sarlat — is an obvious draw.
My wife Jan and I are big fans of Sawadee, a Thai restaurant in Cénac, a short drive from Daglan, but sadly it’s now closed for the winter.
So on Friday, on a shopping trip to Sarlat, we decided to have lunch at Le Bambou. And our verdict? Decidedly mixed.
Le Bambou is right on one of the main streets leading into downtown Sarlat, not far from the renovated Lidl supermarket. It’s in an old limestone building, and looks attractive enough. Here it is:
The inside looks pretty good too, with exposed stone walls around the perimeter and some nice modern touches as well:
We liked some of the decorative touches, like these planters suspended on a wall near our table:
When it came to ordering, however, things got a bit messier. The head man — presumably the owner — was enthusiastic, but hard to understand. Just one example: We ordered a glass of sake to begin, and when it arrived I asked him (in French), whether it was hot. “Oh, oui, oui!” he exclaimed. Then we took a sip and found that it was cold. I can only presume that he thought I was asking if it was warming, as opposed to hot (and it was indeed very warming).
Things got worse when the waitress arrived, and Jan tried to explain her gluten allergy, including the fact that we had brought along a bottle of gluten-free soy sauce for the kitchen to use when preparing Jan’s dishes, if required. That discussion went pretty much nowhere, and at times our waitress seemed to be speaking more Vietnamese than French. Much confusion.
Still, we ordered, and hoped for the best.
As my entrée, I chose shrimp sticks — sort of like shrimp fritters wrapped around sticks of sugar cane and then deep-fried. They were fine, if a bit gummy, and the sauce that came with them helped. Here’s my plate:
For my plat principal, I ordered canard laqué (or lacquered duck), thinking it would have a crispy skin like Peking duck. Instead, my plate was a whole lot of duck breast slices covered in a sauce. It was fine (although much too large a portion), but not really what I wanted or expected. Here it is:
For dessert, I decided on something tropical — like a banana dessert. So I chose the kind of dessert that comes with three scoops of ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and chopped nuts. Yes, it was the traditional banana split. like this:
So we left the restaurant well fed, and not really unhappy. But neither were we delighted with either the service or the food, and so the consensus is that we probably won’t be rushing back. Meanwhile, we look forward to Sawadee in Cénac re-opening, next month.