Of late I have been “rationing” the restaurant write-ups somewhat – there has been so much else to write about. But the time has come for another restaurant round-up – I just wouldn’t want the foodies amongst you to feel neglected!! :)
The Cafe de Plaisance started out as a post relay in the old days of the Canal du Midi, located as it is right by the harbour in Beziers. Today the Cafe is run by Muriel and Laurence, whose grandparents once ran it – and the atmosphere has changed little since then, even though the kitchen and conveniences have been updated. It has a lovely old-fashioned feel to it, and sitting out under the massive plane trees is a joy. The food is simple and delicious, and served only at midday. The two course menu (starter & main course or main course & dessert) is priced at €14.50 and the full-works three course menu is €16.50. There is also a choice from the a-la-carte menu.
In case you are wondering, the hydrangea was on the way to the restaurant and so spectacular that I just couldn’t resist sharing the picture!
My starter was a gazpacho, nice and tangy and a great opener. For main course I had roasted guinea fowl, which was one of the day’s specials, while my dining companion had gambas with a lovely garlicky parsley butter. The dessert, a home-made apple tart, was almost half eaten by the time I remembered to take a picture :)!
Le Terminus is a re-visit of sorts. A restaurant has been in existence in the old railway station in Cruzy for as long as I know. At one point it was rather rustic, but in its latest incarnation Le Terminus is definitely worth a visit! Unfortunately it was somewhat cold and windy on the night of our visit so we sat inside. No real hardship, the dining room looked nice and the chairs were comfortable. Service was very good and the food, which soon appeared, was delicious!
All of us had the Terrine de Foie Gras to start our meal with. Very delicious it was, and we all liked the fun touch of presenting the salad in a Bonne Maman jam jar! The warm bread on the plate was almost too good to be true, and in the little glass there was some Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois – always a good accompaniment to Foie Gras.
Main courses were varied – my dining companions opted for slowly cooked lamb shoulder (12 hours) and the red mullet fillets. My Aberdeen Angus steak was cooked to perfection and the best piece of beef I have had in a very long time!! AND the fries were home-made!
The cheese plate was perfect in size and selection: Bethmale, Saint Nectaire, Combebelle goat’s cheese, and a sheep’s cheese with nettles.
Ready for dessert?? Here they come:
What a great finish to a meal!
La Tour Sarrasine is yet another restaurant overlooking the Canal du Midi. Its location is very picturesque – on a bend in the canal, in the village of Poilhes. The terrace, at the front of the restaurant, affords great views, especially if you sit by the railing as we did. Service was efficient if a tad heavy on “sales”.
An amuse-bouche of apple and celery smoothie was a good way to get the gastric juices flowing. It had a lovely punch and great flavour.
For our starters there was, as so often, foie gras: just by itself with a fig chutney and toast, and as part of a salade gourmande with gizzards and air cured duck breast. My starter was a crispy parcel filled with scallops and melted leeks. I’m not sure about the white butter sauce, which seems blobbed over it all, but the overall taste was good.
During the little pause between starter and main course we watched the boats passing by, and who should come along but the Bonpas II. Paule and Rene spotted us sitting there, and waved as though we were long-lost friends. We had been out cruising with them only two weeks earlier, and that was a lovely touch!
Our main courses arrived soon after. Somehow everyone had opted for fish: Cuttlefish with garlic and parsley butter, sea bream with gambas, monkfish and scallops on skewers, and a Montgolfiere, a small, puff pastry topped tureen, filled with scallops and cream. Divine, according to my fellow diner who had eaten it!
We all decided to skip the cheese course and went straight for dessert. The profiterole was enormous, and the choux pastry shell was lovely and crisp. The nougat parfait with its red berry compote was delicious, and the strawberry smoothie a light and tasty ending to the meal.
And watching the wonderful sunset from the terrace was a bonus! :)
Since I already hinted at my last cruise with the Bonpas, I might as well tell you about it. A friend was visiting with her brother, who has mobility problems, and we hit on the idea of the cruise. That way he’d be able to experience the canal, and we could all enjoy dinner together! Paule and Rene were ever so helpful, and the whole evening was highly enjoyable. I’ve previously written about a cruise on the Bonpas and you can find the article here. We cruised on Bonpas I, but for the summer months Paule and Rene now have Bonpas II, a slightly larger and open sided boat. Dinner cruises are still available, but the menu is somewhat different.
We started with drinks in the bow of the boat, as Rene set off. The landscape along the canal had changed since the last time, with swathes of plane trees disappearing (because of a fungal disease), but the canal is still beautiful. Rene kept us entertained with information about the canal, and when Paule was ready she called everyone to their respective tables.
Starter consisted of a vegetable mousse, accompanied by a salad with thin slivers of foie gras.
Our group had two different main courses: Roasted salmon filet and roasted breast of duckling – both delicious.
The cheese course was simple, but perfect in size and delicious! The honey went with the fresh goat’s cheese, not the Camembert!!
For our dessert, Paule had prepared a pear charlotte – light and wonderful!
So there you have it – a variety of dining experiences to be had in Languedoc – all of them enjoyable and delicious!!