Monpazier is a charming bastide* town about 45 minutes from Daglan, and it’s well worth a visit. For one thing, it’s rated “one of the most beautiful villages in France.” For another, if you go on a Thursday, you could enjoy a double treat.
Treat No. 1 is that Thursday is market day in Monpazier, and the central square is always filled with stalls — with vendors offering everything from vegetables to jewellery. (Okay, in the summer, it’s also filled with tourists.)
Treat No. 2 is that you could try the special lunch (served only on Thursdays) at Restaurant Eléonore in the Hôtel Edward 1, a charming hotel named for the English king who founded Monpazier in 1284.
And lunching at the Eléonore is exactly what my wife Jan and I did this past Thursday, with our good friend Joanne.
This Thursday lunch concept seems to be a new idea, and I think it’s a good one — although when we visited, we sat at one of just two occupied tables. Previously, the restaurant was open only for dinner, and it seems like word about the once-a-week lunch hasn’t spread very far yet. In any case, the restaurant seems well respected, since it’s ranked No. 1 in Monpazier on TripAdvisor.
Here’s a look at the exterior of the restaurant, which is located in a wing of a hotel:
To reach the restaurant, you walk through the hotel’s main entrance. Then take a left turn, where you’ll find a comfortable bar for a pre-meal drink, and then proceed down the hall to the restaurant entrance. Here’s the front of the hotel:
We began our three-course meal with a kir, and then were offered a pleasant amuse-bouche — a light smoked salmon spread served with thin toasts. Then came our asparagus entrée, which I described quite fully in my last posting. Here’s another look at it:
The Thursday lunch menu is set, but all three of us were quite happy with the plat principal on offer — a perfectly cooked chop of young pork, served with fresh peas (a highly under-rated vegetable, I think) and a circle of polenta dusted with black truffle. Here’s my plate:
Dessert for Joanne and me was the one set out on the lunch menu — a moelleux au chocolat noir (chocolate cake with a molten dark chocolate centre), served with chocolate truffles and chocolate ice cream. Voilà:
One sign of a really good restaurant is its ability to meet special needs. When making our reservation, we let the restaurant know that Madame Chudy has an allergy to gluten — and sure enough, she was served particularly delicious gluten-free buns with her meal.
And because she couldn’t have the chocolate cake, for dessert Jan asked for strawberries with chantilly (whipped cream). Instead of simply tossing the strawberries in a bowl, chef chopped up quite a number of them, and placed them in the centre of a plate, and then surrounded the plate with a row of vertical strawberries. Have a look:
Worth a return trip? Yes, and in fact we’ve already made the reservation, for a Thursday lunch with Toronto friends Keith and Kathy.
By the way, the price for such a lovely meal? Three courses for 24.50 euros. Deal!
*What’s a bastide town, you ask? It’s a medieval walled town or village, in which the streets were laid out in a grid pattern. As mentioned earlier, Monpazier was founded in 1284 by King Edward 1.