Fine dining: taste treats, and a sad tale

This posting includes two tales: A description of today’s tasty take-out lunch from Le Grand Bleu, our favourite restaurant in Sarlat, and the sad story of a catastrophe at O Moulin, the wonderful restaurant in Carsac that I’ve raved about many times in the past. First, today’s lunch.

Our entrée was a roll of cold poached chicken breast, wrapped around a morsel of red pepper, and accompanied by a confit of red pepper and (oddly, I thought) a few slices of smoked sturgeon. Here’s my serving, as it appeared on the take-out plate from Le Grand Bleu. (By the way, the talented chef, Maxime Lebrun, proudly told Jan this morning that all his containers are recyclable. Hurrah!)

I could have done without the sturgeon.

The chicken was tender, and went well with the red pepper confit. But neither Jan nor I cared for the smoked sturgeon. The taste was fine, but the thin slices were surprisingly tough, and we finally reverted to steak knives to cut smaller pieces; then came a lot of chewing.

We fared better with the main course — steamed cod served on a bed of (French) risotto, and accompanied by a few pieces of white asparagus from our region. Here’s my plate:

Nicely done, if you like cream in your risotto.

You may have noticed that I wrote “French” risotto, because the French seem to think (unlike the Italians, who originated the dish) that cream should be added. So it tastes fine, but is a bit “gloopy,” to use a sophisticated cooking term. I enjoyed my dish, but Jan complained that her rice was a bit under-done; the grains of rice were a bit hard in the centre.

We did quite well on desserts. Because Jan is allergic to gluten, Chef substituted a (wheat-free) macaron as her dessert, served with fresh fruit and a mango mousse. Here it is:

Jan’s colourful dessert.

Jan’s dessert certainly came first in the visual department, but my rather modest-looking tarte au citron vert (key lime pie) served with an Italian meringue topping, and seated on a chocolate cookie, was ab-fab. As I said to Jan when I finished it: “Well, I could five more of those.” Here’s my dessert:

Low on looks, high in taste.

The take-out menu from Le Grand Bleu is available on order, and the dishes can be picked up at the central square in Sarlat (across from the post office) rather than at the restaurant. The cost is a reasonable 26 euros for three courses. For today’s meal, Jan and I agreed it deserved a Radio Free Daglan Score (or RFDS) of 8 out of 10; the mark-downs were for the chewy sturgeon and the not-so-authentic risotto. But I’m sure we’ll be ordering from Le Grand Bleu again.

The sad tale of O Moulin. For quite a while, we had missed the take-out menu from O Moulin, and wondered just what was going on. Had they given up because of the pandemic, or what? The restaurant’s Facebook page referred to a flood, but I figured that would be a minimal problem.

After all, take a look at this photo, of the restaurant’s front entrance:

The depression for the stream is in the foreground.

In the foreground, by the trees, you can see a depression — which is where a relatively small stream flows, making its way into the Dordogne River. In fact, the stream actually runs under the restaurant, and is quite attractive. But it seemed to me that it would be nearly impossible for the stream to flood enough to shut down the restaurant.

Finally, this past Friday Jan and I were shopping in Sarlat, which is not far from Carsac, and so we decided to drive to O Moulin and see what we could see. Well, the first view wasn’t promising — the menus had been taken down from the display case beside the path into the restaurant, and replaced by a “closed” sign, and there was a chain across the little bridge over the stream.

Nevertheless, Jan went under the chain and spoke to both the chef and his partner, and learned that the restaurant had truly suffered a major flood — it seems a dam far up the river broke, sending a torrent of water down from the hills. The result? The water actually washed away the wooden terrace at the front of the restaurant; destroyed all the kitchen equipment; and flooded the whole restaurant to a depth of 80 centimetres.

As you can imagine, the restaurateurs are working hard to bring the place back to life — but it involves a lot of negotiations about insurance, and a lot of plain hard work, including getting rid of the ruined equipment and then re-painting the walls. So far, no date has been set for completion. What a shame.

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