I wrote a while ago that I thought that the quality of food in France had declined and that, at the same price point, the food in Scotland was as good as the food in France. Food in Scotland is pretty good but as the pound has strengthened against the euro, it is considerably more expensive to eat well here than it is in France.
We had a short holiday this summer in the Dordogne. The weather was so warm and the food from the markets so good that we mostly ate in the garden of the house that we rented but we did have one ‘special occasion’ meal to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and engagement in a local one-star Michelin restaurant – La Tour des Vents.
La Tour des Vents sits on a hill overlooking the Dordogne valley, with magnificent views from the terrace.It’s just outside the town of Bergerac in with Monbazillac wine growing region. We were lucky to go there on a warm evening and had what I think is the best outdoor table on the terrace with views across the garden to the Dordogne valley.
I chose the fixed price 60€ menu (about £43), which was quite fishy. Others had this menu and the 44€ menu. There are no Michelin star restaurants in Scotland that I know of that have such a reasonably priced dinner menu. Canapés were served while we made our choices and we had a beetroot themed amuse-bouche.
My starter was I think perhaps the most interesting starter I have ever had. Served on a bed of creamed purple cauliflower, I had haddock mousse, what was called a summer roll which included crab and an unusual and wonderful oyster sorbet. This looks grey and rather unappetising in the photo but it captured the freshness of oysters without the sliminess that you sometimes get when eating them raw.
My main course was monkfish served with a langoustine in a tempura batter. sob noodles and fondant potatoes. Again, it was absolutely superb – beautifully cooked fish with a subtle thai sauce.
My dessert was simple – a strawberry tart with lemon sorbet, served with a crumble accompaniment. I didn’t think the crumble really added much and, although very good, the dessert was perhaps the weakest part of the meal.
What is good about local French restaurants, whatever the price bracket, is that they sell local wine at reasonable prices. I must admit I get pissed off in British restaurants to be charged £30+ for what I know to be a £10 wine but here we had excellent Bergerac wine for €24 per bottle.
The food here is comparable in standard with 1* restaurants in Edinburgh such as Castle Terrace or Kitchin but it’s a lot cheaper – with aperitifs, wine, food and coffee our bill came to about £55/head. When you add the views and the ambience, this was a bargain.