An argument can be made that one shouldn’t bother driving nearly an hour to eat Easter lunch in a bistro, when the identical drive will take you to a Michelin-starred restaurant that’s literally across the street from the bistro. Makes sense, up to a point.
But when the bistro in question is Le Bistrot de la Place in Trémolat, west of our village of Daglan, we think the food is worthy of the trip. Yesterday for Easter lunch, we confirmed that with friends Joanne and Chris, and their children James and Eleanor.
My wife Jan and I have eaten at the bistro many times over the years, and have always had a good experience — especially with the big, fat, crispy-on-the-outside-but-soft-inside frites, which are cooked in duck fat. Yum.
But the immediate idea to have lunch there yesterday came from Joanne, who had read an article in a U.K. newspaper about where famous chefs in London like to go to “chill.” It turns out that Hélène Darroze, who has a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris (where we have, of course, eaten) and another starred restaurant at London’s Connaught Hotel, visits the bistro in Trémolat, when she’s back in southwest France. That settled it.
Let’s start with a look at the front of the restaurant. Whenever we can, Jan and I like to get a table in the front room, so we can look out these windows and watch life in the village drift past. Here’s the front window:
To orient you a bit more, the bistro is kitty-corner from the Mairie of Trémolat. In warmer weather, there are tables set on the small terrace you can see here, with shade provided by that rolled-up awning:
Once we were inside, the four adults ordered apéritifs, and we all settled into making our choices for lunch (including that trusty goes-with-most-things wine, a rosé from the nearby Bergerac area).
To begin, three of us cleverly chose the daily special entrée of a salad made with the season’s first white asparagus (hurrah!) and a soft-boiled egg. This earned rave reviews from Jan, Joanne and me; here it is:
Reactions to our main courses ranged from happy to delirious. Eleanor loved her duck breast (bien cuit, as requested) with a rich sauce and roast potatoes. Here’s her plate:
Meanwhile, Jan, Joanne and I were in ecstasy over our navarin d’agneau, the classic spring dish. This one featured incredibly tender and tasty pieces of slow-cooked lamb in a lovely sauce with perfect spring vegetables. Not shown with my navarin are the frites that I piled on my plate from the huge bowl of frites that was set on our table. (I have omitted the photo of the potatoes as a public service, because seeing them might cause some readers to have a fit of frites raptures.)
And then it was on to dessert (a freshly baked individual apple tart for Chris, James and me, made with incredibly thinly sliced apples and served with a scoop of ice cream). And then a glass of Armagnac for James and me. And then coffees.
But the afternoon wasn’t over. Part-way through our lunch, the owner of Le Vieux Logis — which has the Michelin-starred restaurant across the street, and which also owns the bistro — had stopped at our table to chat. (The elderly gentleman was pretty puzzled about my taking photos of the food, and the answer that I write a “blog” didn’t seem to explain much.)
Then the charming maitre d’ from the restaurant at Le Vieux Logis’s wandered into the bistro, recognized Jan and me, and stopped at our table to say hello and welcome us for complimentary coffees.
So of course we accepted the invitation, and wound up in the cozy lobby of the inn for more coffees (and delicious chocolates) before our drive back to Daglan. All in all, a pretty good Easter lunch.