Last week a friend from St Chinian called with an invitation. There was a concert at the Guinguette Le Tournebelle that evening, and she would be happy for me to come along. I had driven past the Guinguette, on my way from Narbonne to Gruissan, a couple of times, but had never actually stopped there. A quick look on the internet showed that the music would be right up my street, so I gladly accepted the invitation.
Guinguette translates as tavern, and the tavern at Tournebelle is right by the Canal de la Robine, just past the Mandirac lock, outside of Narbonne. If you plan to go, make sure you look at a map first; it’s easy to take a wrong turn.
We arrived in time to eat dinner, before the concert, and my friend had booked a table for the four of us. The Guinguette Le Tournebelle is basically one large room, possibly a former barn, with a raised stage at one end, and a bar at the opposite end. Along the outside of the building, and overlooking the canal, a covered pergola has been added, with the open sides closed in with see-through plastic for the winter months. I imagine that it will be a perfect spot for sitting out, as soon as it gets warm enough. Inside though, a number of people were already at their tables, amongst them the musicians for the evening, and the mood was relaxed and friendly.
Dinner that night was a three course fixed menu, all freshly prepared, with the dishes selected by the chef. The starter was a creamy soup made with sweet potato and coconut milk, subtly spiced, and accompanied by a gratinated salmon toast.
The main course was delicious too: slices of filet of pork which had been covered in a hazelnut and breadcrumb coating and fried, served on a bed of sweet red cabbage. Alongside was a little mound of truffle flavoured whipped cream, a cherry tomato roasted with balsamic vinegar, and some roasted potato wedges.
Dessert arrived just as the concert was about to start and the lights were dimmed, so I’m sorry there is no picture. It was a delicious and refreshing tiramisu, where the usual sponge had been replaced with speculoos, spiced shortcrust biscuits.
The musicians for the evening were Jorge Rossy from Barcelona, Gabrielle Koehlhoeffer and Joel Allouche, both from Montpellier. They had met at a festival the previous year, and decided that they should play a gig together, since Barcelona and Montpellier are not that far away from one another. We were privileged to be in the audience for that gig!
Jorge Rossy, who headlined the evening, is a very talented musician, well-known as having been the drummer for the Brad Mehldau Trio. He has also studied trumpet and piano, and this evening he was playing piano and vibraphone. Gabrielle Koehlhoeffer, on double bass, is a passionate musician with a doctorate in pharmacy, who came to playing jazz when she was 15 and has enjoyed herself ever since. Joel Allouche is a mover and shaker in the regional music scene, as well as a composer, and a very good drummer! I hope you’ll enjoy the video below.
The Guinguette Le Tournebelle is open for lunch throughout the year Tuesday to Sunday. Live music is played every Friday night, and if you want to go for dinner on a concert night I would strongly recommend that you book your table in advance.