Amazed, surprised and delighted — once again

We have eaten at the Michelin-starred Le Grand Bleu in Sarlat so many times that it may seem surprising that we can still be amazed, surprised and delighted by Chef Maxime Lebrun’s creations. But we are, and never more so than at our lunch there on Thursday. (Just wait until you get a load of our desserts.)

For my wife Jan and me, Thursday happened to be our 27th (ahem) anniversary (thank you, thank you very much), and lunching at Le Grand Bleu seemed like a great way to celebrate. So off we went.

In case you’ve missed my previous raves, the restaurant is within easy walking distance of Sarlat’s train station, where there always seems to be ample parking. Here’s what the front of Le Grand Bleu looks like:

The entrance to Le Grand Bleu.

The entrance to Le Grand Bleu.

Our hostess Céline (Chef’s wife) settled us into our corner table. Then we ordered a kir royale (Champagne with a touch of cassis syrup), and let the show begin — starting with a small tray of amusebouches to nibble. Here it is:

Perfect for nibbling along with a kir royale.

Perfect for nibbling along with a kir royale.

Tasty as the amuse-bouches were, it was the dish that followed that really amazed us. This was a chilled, frothy soup of green peas, topped with a delicate foam of carrots, and garnished in the centre with an ice cream made of beets — light, elegant and delicious. Here it is:

A refreshing soup to begin the lunch.

A refreshing soup to begin the lunch.

By this point, both Jan and I had made our selections for the rest of the meal, and I had chosen a 25-year-old white Châteauneuf-du-Pape to drink. (The wine was almost golden in colour, and reminiscent of a light sherry. Interesting, but not the best choice I’ve ever made.)

For my entrée, I had a concoction built around the two main types of asparagus, white and green, with a host of garnishes, sauces and a barely poached egg. If I recall correctly, it took two fresh bread rolls (one white, one dark) to mop up all the delicious sauces and runny yolk. Here’s my plate:

Making the most of asparagus season.

Making the most of asparagus season.

Meanwhile, Jan’s entrée was this plate of lightly poached langoustines:

Jan's delicious entrée of langoustines.

Jan’s delicious entrée of langoustines.

As the plat principal, Jan (again) had the pigeon — one of her favourites at Le Grand Bleu — while I surprised both Jan and Céline by not ordering the sweetbreads for a change. Instead, I had this serving of John Dory, lighted coated with Indian spices.

Indian spices lifted the fish out of the ordinary.

Indian spices lifted the fish out of the ordinary.

Most amazing of all was the dessert that both of us chose. The restaurant’s menu describes it as Macaron olive noire, crème d’asperge verte et fraises gariguette, glace olive noire, which is to say in English: “Black olive macaron, green asparagus cream and gariguette strawberries, black olive ice cream.” Yes, that’s right — black olives in the macaron and the ice cream, and green asparagus cream (!!) within the macaron, surrounded by a row of fresh strawberries. We both thought it was brilliant.

Easily the most amazing part of our meal.

A black olive macaron? Easily the most amazing part of our meal.

By this point in our lunch, we were both feeling very well fed, bordering on being “full.” So we declined the usual offering of mignardises, and simply had coffees to end the meal.

In case you’re wondering what a meal costs at a restaurant with a Michelin star, our total bill was 196 euros, which includes the Champagne cocktails to begin and the relatively expensive bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Seems reasonable enough — and in fact we are going back before the end of the month to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

The only unreasonable thing is the fact that Michelin has awarded Le Grand Bleu just one star. Were it up to me, and I was judging the restaurant solely on the basis of the food, I’d make that two stars, if not three.

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

4 Responses to Amazed, surprised and delighted — once again

  1. Robin says:

    It really does look amazing, Loren and Jan! Happy anniversary, by the way!
    Am I mistaken, or does the little blob of black olive ice cream look like a tiny little mouse? (or maybe is it that I just see animals in almost everything?)
    Fascinating combination of things for the dessert. Reminds me of one of the tastiest desserts I ever had – at a Spanish restaurant in New York called Miejas. It was a bread pudding with a vinaigrette dressing and brie ice cream. Never would have thought to combine those.

    Thanks for the description and photos!!

    • loren24250 says:

      Lovely to hear from you again, Robin. I’ve been meaning to write you a note (longer than this will be), and I will do so soon. Yes, I agree that the ice cream looks like a mouse! The dessert you had in N.Y.C. sounds amazing too. Our plans for this year include a (confirmed) reservation at the restaurant in Spain that is now ranked No. 2 in the world. Really looking forward to that. And looking forward to your next visit here (!!) and possibly a trip to S. Africa for us next year. Cheers and hugs.

  2. John Ison says:

    Wow! I am 0 for 2, so next time for sure!

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