A chef who keeps upping his game

My wife Jan said it soon after our first dish was served at lunch last Friday: “I think Chef has upped his game.” Then she said it several more times during the meal, and again, later that afternoon. This is pretty high praise, and I agree.

Our lunch was at La Table du Marché, a restaurant in Bergerac I’ve reviewed often. While I don’t want to keep going over old topics, this is a restaurant with a chef who  deserves attention.

To refresh you, here’s a quick description, taken from my posting of April 14, 2013, “Simply superb in Bergerac:”

La Table du Marché is a relatively small restaurant, just across the street from the covered market (hence the marché) in the centre of vieux Bergerac. The style is contemporary, but comfortable. The chef and owner is a Parisian, Stéphane Cuzin, who learned his craft at starred restaurants in France and Belgium — and learned it very well. His food is clever, creative, fresh, and delicious.

This most recent visit was with friends Elisabeth and Gerhard, who had just flown in from England. The timing was perfect, as we picked them up at the Bergerac airport and then whisked ourselves off to the restaurant in Old Bergerac. It was a hot and sticky August day, but we decided to sit outside because the tables were in the shade, and our lunch was actually quite comfortable. Here’s a look back at the restaurant from our spot (we ate relatively late, so the other diners were gone by the time I took this photograph):

The view from our table, outside the restaurant.

The view from our table, outside the restaurant.

Before the meal, we each had a glass of Champagne, sipping it while munching on several tasty treats (including gluten-free alternatives for Jan), and then ordered a nice Sancerre to have with our lunch.

Surprising combinations and artful presentations are a particular feature of the food at La Table du Marché, and here’s an example — our main amuse bouche of finely minced, refreshing zucchinis (courgettes), topped with cold marinated mussels, and then a creamy mousse:

Our cool, refreshing and clever amuse bouche.

Our cool, refreshing and clever amuse bouche.

The entrée of foie gras that both Gerhard and I ordered was another great example of combinations that really worked. The walnut bread sticks looked as if they would be dry and crunchy, but in fact were moist and delicious. Inside the slice of black truffle was a quarter of an artichoke heart. And the little puddle of sweet fruit sauce was perfect with the foie itself:

A delicious garnished serving of foie gras.

A delicious garnished serving of foie gras.

Perhaps the star of the meal was the entrée ordered by Elisabeth, which was (nominally) a serving of tomatoes and mozzarella. Usually the classic Italian dish consists of alternating slices of ripe red tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Instead, this entrée included a creamy sauce, slices of green tomato, and more. Here it is:

This dish probably took the prize for sheer inventiveness.

This dish probably took the prize for sheer inventiveness.

For our main dishes, both Gerhard and I ordered — and were delighted with — roast Iberico pork on a bed of puréed peas. Have a look:

Very happy to put this pork on my fork.

Very happy to put this pork on my fork.

My dessert was built around four poached apricot halves, topped with ice cream — refreshing and delicious:

A fresh, sweet dessert based on apricots.

A fresh, sweet dessert based on apricots.

Even the mignardises — the little sweets served with the coffee — are clever. Chef’s version included house-made marshmallow squares and little cakes, served on a bed of popcorn. The cannelés (a traditional little cake from the Bordeaux area) were as good as ever, but the real hit was the surprisingly intense blueberry flavour of the marshmallows. Here’s our serving:

The house-made marshmallows had surprisingly intense flavour.

The house-made marshmallows had surprisingly intense flavour.

And yes, of course we’re headed back to the restaurant. Jan’s birthday is coming soon, and La Table du Marché was her pick for a celebratory lunch. It’s a drive of about an hour and a quarter from Daglan, and the food is well worth the trip.

 

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2 Responses to A chef who keeps upping his game

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks for the review although guess you might disagree with some of my comments on La Table du Marché in response to your post on the Sarlat Test! But I do agree that the cooking is creative & imaginative and we always visit when we are in Bergerac. Would love to know what you think of restaurant Etincelles in St Sabine Born & also l’Ancienne Gare and la Bruceliere in Issigeac should you get the chance to visit.
    best wishes
    Paul

  2. loren24250 says:

    Thanks for your comments, Paul. Unfortunately, I don’t know the other restaurants you mention. One of these days!

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