Today is our wedding anniversary and every year we celebrate by choosing a special place to have lunch.
The last two years we've eaten at a wonderful restaurant, La Table Saint Crescent, in Narbonne. It is in a beautiful building, a former 7th century Oratory, on the outskirts of town and next to, of all things, a McDonald's!
Their Saveur & Région menu is four courses for 37 €, and for an additional 5 € it is offered with three glasses of wine to compliment the two savory and one cheese course. They offer three other menu's, ranging in price from 20 € for the menu du jour to 69 € for seven courses! They also offer à la carte. The food has always been excellent and the service impeccable.
And if your wine cellar looks a bit depleted, adjacent to the restaurant is a wine shop, training center and headquarters of the Independent Winegrower's Association, Le Palais du Vin.
This year we wanted to try something new. We've been trying to decide where to go for a couple of months and have been looking at the Michelin Red Guide for the area as well as asking friends for their recommendations.
We found a review of L'Auberge Côté Jardin in Conilhac Corbières on a local website and have been thinking about trying it ever since.
They offer three menu's, 16 € for the menu du jour, 25 € and 35 €. We chose the 25 € menu which consisted of an amuse-bouche, an entrée, a main course and either a cheese course or dessert.
The meal started with homemade cheese straws with our first glass of wine. This was a nice touch as nibbles are usually only served if an apéritif is ordered.
The amuse-bouche was an oyster gratinéed with mushroom cream sauce. The flavor of both shallots and mushrooms came through without hiding the taste of the warmed oyster and the gratinéed cream on top was perfectly puffed and golden.
I tried the soupe de poisson for an entrée. It was gorgeous! Most of the fish soup I've had in this area has been a bit thin and watery but this was just the right thickness, with tomatoes and herbs and a delicious fish flavor. My husband tried the terrine de gibiers (a pâté of game meat) served with a sauce gribiche and homemade toasts. We were both very happy with our choices.
We had the same main course, a boneless leg of capon, rolled and cooked in a cocotte (a covered casserole dish) and served with a quenelle of cooked red cabbage on mashed potatoes with sautéd carrots and sautéd wild mushrooms on either side. The flavor of everything was perfect and I was very happy with the variety of vegetables.
We both decided to have dessert instead of cheese. I chose the trio of homemade sorbets and was sadly disappointed. The flavors of the day were strawberry, orange and apple. The strawberry was good but the orange was mediocre and the apple was too icy and had very little flavor. My husband had the apple crumble. It was good, with slices of kiwi fruit mixed into the apple and a nice aroma of crushed almonds coming from the crumble topping, but not exceptional.
Overall, L'Auberge Côté Jardin was a great restaurant. We loved the food and the service was very friendly. Our server kindly offered to help us choose wine to go with our meal and wanted to practice his English with us. The restaurant's only weakness was the desserts, but the quality of the savory courses more than made up for it.
They have a beautiful terrace and I can imagine sitting outside in the summer, enjoying a long, leisurely lunch. We look forward to our next visit.
Lunch for the two of us with a bottle of wine and two coffee's was 74 €.
Today is also my niece's birthday. Happy Birthday Morgan!