We first heard of the place from a variety of friends and acquaintances. Lots of buzz. It seemed that a young British couple — both trained chefs, both experienced at the Ritz in London — had opened a new restaurant not far from our village.
The reviews were very good, and so this restaurant was obviously a “must” destination. My wife Jan and I knew the place, because it was the site of several previous restaurants, located in the small hamlet of Campagnac-lès-Quercy, 10 kilometres or so from Daglan. We had never had much luck at any of the previous incarnations (and evidently the restaurateurs didn’t either).
In any case, one rainy Saturday we drove there with friends, only to be turned away, because the place was packed — reservations clearly were required. So a few days ago, Jan made a reservation for the two of us for this past Sunday, which happened to be Father’s Day. Off we went.
While it seems that the new restaurant is to be known as Bistro 24, the new proprietors are keeping the old signage, at least temporarily. Here’s the front of the restaurant as it looked yesterday afternoon:
When Jan and I entered, we were greeted by the young and friendly English hostess, and were brought the kirs we ordered. Then the waiting began. Eventually we were offered a wine list, and we chose a rosé. And waited some more. At last, the entrée arrived — a scoop of chicken liver parfait, served with a few dribbles of fruity sauce and some raspberries. Here’s my serving:
I thought the taste was fine, although the serving seemed a bit inelegant. And Jan had no gluten-free bread or crackers for her serving, although she had previously informed the restaurant that she needed to be gluten-free. Ah well.
Having the kirs, and then the entrée, took the better part of an hour. For entertainment, we could watch the man who kept popping into the bar from an outside table to order yet more drinks. We also could guzzle more of our own wine. And we could watch the hostess’s young dog wander through the restaurant, snuffling at the legs of various diners. Here he is:
When the main courses arrived, they looked quite good. And in fact my serving of bœuf en croûte had a perfectly golden crust, and nicely cooked beef. It was tender (not as common in France as you might expect) and delicious. The only problem was the portion size — you may not be able to tell from this photograph, but the serving could easily have served two if not three hungry guys. Have a look:
For her gluten-free main course, Jan was given this dish of roast cod with some tomatoes:
She said the fish was delicious, but wasn’t happy that there was no “starch” with the dish, such as rice or potatoes. So I gave her some of my potatoes.
As it turned out, we had ordered a second bottle of wine , something that can happen when the time between courses seems to drag. But eventually we gagged back the last of the wine, and went on to dessert and coffees. The dessert also was very good — a pavlova with fruit and fruit gelatin, plus cream. Here’s my plate:
Near the end of our meal, the bar section of the restaurant (which is only a few feet from the tables) was visited by some young, shirtless lads who had been playing in the courtyard outside the restaurant. I was waiting for our hostess to ask them to either put on their shirts, or enjoy their beers at an outside table. It didn’t happen. You can call me old fashioned, but this isn’t the sight I want with a nice meal:
So, a pretty mixed reaction on our part. Good food, reasonable prices, friendly hostess. But not enough service (our hostess handled everything by herself), so that the waiting between courses simply went on too long. And I do think the bar needs to be separated from the dining area.
I’ll leave it to Jan to offer the last word: “Well, I don’t think we’ll be rushing back.”