Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Eating in France – III. Le dîner!

One Friday night a friend’s daughter came over to babysit Lauris while we went out to a popular Clermont-Ferrand restaurant for our wedding anniversary dîner. Since the anniversary fell on a Monday and many restaurants are closed on Mondays, we waited until Friday for a dining experience on the town.

We chose Le Compotoir des Saveurs as our target restaurant. The restaurant is only open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, and the restaurant offers only menus of dinners – not a pick-and-choose of individual offerings. A quick look at the website promised “Herve and Gregory, who are always looking for new flavors, will welcome you and take you through a modern and refined cuisine, combining gastronomy and market products…” 

As it only opens at 7:45 pm, we stopped at a nearby brasserie for an aperitif. We sat at a table outside and watched the action on the small plaza as we sipped our drinks and nibbled on some crackers. (We rarely get to indulge in the café people-watching scene – with a small child it becomes child-watching! But if in France it is a must.) Soon we left for the restaurant, which turned out to be small, with seating on the first floor for only twenty-five. The tables were beautifully set, with a glass charger that looked more like a slice of agate than a plate, and colored glass-rests for the silverware. As we glanced at a menu we learned that there were few options, instead there is a menu for the night. Other than skipping courses we were in for the long haul, and that was just fine with these parents.

Our menu did not even allow choices of drink, as everything was preselected by the chefs. This was my first such dining experience, and I found it strangely relaxing not to have to make selections. Aperitifs soon arrived, a little more traditional than the wine and beer we enjoyed at the brasserie. Strawberry-flavored champagne with a raspberry floating in it set the theme for the dinner – light and airy.

Bread, of course. And out came l'entrée in small, round shot-glass dishes. It was a pea puree, served cold, and was surprisingly delicious considering the color. The theme continued with white foam over the top of the peas.

A glass of white wine was next, accompanying the fish course. On a bed of paella was fish with oysters, served in a cream sauce with more foam on top, once again in a cylindrical clear glass dish. I am not exactly sure of the type of fish and other ingredients, although Roberts’s French was good enough to catch the gist of what was said as the servers presented each course, we missed or misunderstood some details.

Once we had both finished our wine and enjoyed the fish course, the plat was brought out, accompanied by a glass of red wine. On one plate were three separate pieces of duck, each topped with a mix of steamed vegetables, a brown sauce, and topped with yet more foam. The duck was tender and delicious, and I silently thanked the chef that there was something on the menu that I would not have ordered myself but was a pleasant surprise.

There were two options for the cheese course, and we ordered one of each. The first option was three cheeses; bleu d’Auvergne, chevre and a ?. I had fromage frais served with a bowl of sugar, and both came with a cranberry sauce. The desert was perfect, light but delicious. A plate with two cylindrical glasses was placed before us; one had a chocolate mousse with a whipped cream topping, the other kiwi-pineapple fruit with a fruit sauce and another light, whipped topping. And last, but not least, a café with a small truffle on the saucer to top off the meal.

Of course our little angel behaved for the babysitter!


  1. That is one of my favorite restaurants. Amphitryon on Rue Fontgieve is similar and also delicious!

  2. Oh, my. That sounds heavenly. Just the service alone would have been delightful. Thanks for sharing the details with us.

  3. YUM. Labi dzirdēt, ka variet tikt vieni pabaudīt pilsētu!


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