Food & Wine are so intrinsically intertwined with life in France, that we thought we’d share some of our favourite places to grab a bite in and around Carcassonne. With many of our guests staying either in the Bastide or up in La Cité, we’re often asked for restaurant recommendations, so we’ve decided to share some of our favourite culinary hotspots with you! Some will be fabulous tapas bars, or places to grab a quick bite, others will offer a more formal dining experience. So without further ado…. A TABLE!
Don’t be surprised to find people enjoying a glass of wine, beer, or my favourite, a glass of calvados or cognac at 10 o’clock in the morning. Apart from being a wonderful way to start the day – they are already hours behind the market stall holders who gather for a breakfast of blood sausage and red wine at around 8am. Go ahead – you’re on holiday!
If you’re looking for a quick, tasty bite to eat, then Maison Bor in the heart of the Bastide St Louis could fit the bill.
I popped in one Saturday in January accompanied by my mother who agreed to be my co-contributor for this week’s blog! Well the wind was blowing a gale, and the sale shoppers were out in force, so after a hard morning’s trawl around the lovely boutiques of the Bastide, we popped into Maison Bor for a speedy lunch, but it’s also a great pit stop for coffee and cake.
The menu du jour was a 3-course lunch for €10, yes €10! There were 3 choices of entrée, main and dessert. I was obviously feeling ducky as I plumped for the Terrine of duck, whilst my mum went for the Hare Terrine, I then had the Duck Confit – which was manchons de canard, basically the bottom of the leg – with bitter orange, and tiny little noodles in a broth; and my mum opted for the soup of the day which was courgette, carrot and spinach. Mine was delicious, filling and piping hot! My mum said the soup was a little under-seasoned, but still tasty.
Neither of us wanted dessert (those pesky New Year Resolutions!! ) but the choices of ile flottante, ice cream or faiselle ( a fresh creamy superlight cheese ) were tempting… so we had coffees instead.
Lunch for 2 including coffee and 2 bottles of San Pellegrino was €30. Can’t argue with that 🙂
What we liked: the waiter who on hearing us speaking English, tried super hard to converse with us. Great value for money; buzzy, casual atmosphere, and if the weather permits, a fabulous spot to people watch during the Saturday market on Carnot.
There is no alternative menu, so unless the menu du jour tickles your fancy…
This week’s restaurant review comes to you courtesy of the Brasserie A Temps at the Porte des Jacobins a 2 Boulevard Barbès, Carcassonne.
First things first – I really rate this restaurants prix fixe (fixed price) lunchtime menu. At €16 for 3 courses, you’d be hard pressed to find better food anywhere – and factor in that the patron is Franck Putelat, the 2* Michelin chef at Le Parc, and it becomes even more remarkable!
We went there in January 2017 to celebrate a couple of birthdays, and as usual, it was packed. Our apéro order was quickly taken, followed by our food choices. Almost everyone took the prix fixe, which consisted of Garbure – cabbage soup, generously garnished with duck confit, followed by steak accompanied by roasted polenta, and finished with a super light waffle with a chocolate/caramel sauce. I’m not a huge fan of cabbage, and I don’t often eat dessert, so I opted for a green salad and a paleron steak with chestnut purée.
Now, I’m going to be completely honest. When my very tasty looking green salad arrived, it had tomato in it, and I have a problem with raw tomato and had to return it. What came back was essentially a bowl of iceberg lettuce, and I did feel a bit like I’d been punished! Not to worry, I still enjoyed it; and the paleron which followed was perfectly delicious.
This place has a great buzz about it, it’s always busy, the staff are conscientious, and attentive. It’s probably got around 50 covers but it’s lively! I prefer to be seated in the booths on the left of the restaurant where it’s more intimate and cosy, but we ended up on a rectangular table right in front of the very drafty front door… again, I understand that they have to move parties around to accommodate all reservations, but it was a niggle, particularly as I reserved over a week in advance, so if you go, be sure to ask for a booth! In the summer time there terrace outside is also a great spot.
There are a couple of things for which I will absolutely applaud this restaurant, one is its wine choices the other its staff. The wine list is not huge, but it is comprehensive in terms of the Languedoc, and the wines by the glass, including fizz, are absolutely excellent. The staff are working flat out, full tilt from noon until the last diners leave, in our case, just shy of 3pm, and they’re often turning smaller tables twice; but they’re efficient, timely, and get the orders right.
Upside : Great value lunch menu, super staff, lovely wine choices
Downside : You MUST book ahead ( which could I guess indicate an Upside! ), can get a little noisy at lunchtime.
My tip would be to go to the fabulous Carcassonne market on a Saturday morning, and then hit this place for lunch!
To book telephone 04 68 11 44 44
Our first culinary hotspot is the relatively new “Bistrot d’Alice”, located next door to the fabulous La Ferme delicatessen, at 26 Rue Chartran in the Bastide St Louis. If you like classic French cooking, look no further. The menu is compact – around 6 entrées, 6 main courses and 6 desserts; but it is supplemented with a ‘plat du jour’ and some daily specials. The menu is both traditional, and seasonal, and as I am writing this blog post during the winter, dishes such as guinea fowl and rabbit appear, as well as the somewhat terrifying tete de veau with it’s traditional gribiche sauce!
Just before New Year I popped in one evening, with a friend, just on the off chance, and we were lucky enough to grab the last two seats at the ‘comptoir’. We polished off some exceptionally good oysters to start with, then I opted for a plate of home cured salmon, and she had rabbit, all washed down with a pleasant white from Montlaur in the Corbières. Supper for 2 was €50.
A week later, I was back! This time for lunch, and this time we booked! It’s hard to over extol the charm of red velvet banquette seats, brass rails, and red and white chequered place settings, particularly when the service manages to be both unobtrusive and attentive! This time I went for steak tartare – yes, I know, raw beef coupled with a raw egg yolk isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I do love it, particularly when the chef preparing it is a dab hand with cornichons and tabasco! The accompanying French fries were piping hot, straight out of the fryer, so I was a very happy camper. Wendy opted for the guinea fowl with cepes and she was delighted with it. I’m afraid we did the terribly uncool thing of photographing our food, but it’s more to show you the presentation – we promise! We both had a glass of very passable red from the Cabardés, and Wendy finished off lunch, as she invariably does, with thé gourmand. If you’ve never come across this particular French custom, it’s a selection of mini desserts, served with either tea or coffee, and very agreeable it is too. Lunch for 2 was also about €50 including wine and coffees.
What we loved: The open kitchen, good value, local produce, and charming service all make this a “we’ll be back” kind of place.
A word to the wise, this restaurant’s reputation has spread like wildfire around town, and we would recommend you book! 04 68 47 25 51