Mixed results at a new Asian restaurant

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:

Red lanterns make the entrance easy to spot.

Red lanterns make the entrance easy to spot.

The inside looks pretty good too, with exposed stone walls around the perimeter and some nice modern touches as well:

The interior is comfortable, with reasonably well-spaced tables.

The interior is comfortable, with reasonably well-spaced tables.

We liked some of the decorative touches, like these planters suspended on a wall near our table:

Planters hanging on a wall.

Planters hanging on a wall.

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:

The shrimp on sugar cane sticks were good, but a bit gummy.

The shrimp on sugar cane sticks were good, but a touch gummy.

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:

The duck breast slices were drowning in sauce.

The duck breast slices were drowning in sauce.

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:

That Vietnamese classic: A banana split.

That Vietnamese classic: A banana split.

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.

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

4 Responses to Mixed results at a new Asian restaurant

  1. Lesley says:

    As you posted only your meal photos, I am assuming that Jan got nothihg!
    Do hope that this was not the case and that some G -free meal was available. It must be a nightmare if allergies are to be catered for outside the home – especially when French might not be the first language of customer and cook.

    • loren24250 says:

      Thanks Lesley. No worries — Jan was well fed. She began with a soup, and then had a grilled shrimp dish. In general, we don’t have too much trouble communicating about the gluten-free diet in French restaurants, although Jan gets a fair amount of push-back when she asks for a hamburger without the bun. “But that’s not a hamburger!” the server often exclaims. Finally, the server relents, and Jan gets a burger on a plate, with all the necessary trimmings and condiments — but no bun.

  2. Doug Curson says:

    It’s good to see Radio Free Daglan operating again!

    Doug

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