Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Restaurant Review: La Symphonie, Le 23, L'Escalier in Montpellier

My first dinner in Montpellier was at La Symphonie. A petit restaurant traditionnel. I walked around for hours trying to find a tiny, local restaurant that served traditional cuisine and I hit the jackpot. At the time (8:30pm) I was the only individual in the 15 person restaurant and the chef and I conversed (in English!) extensively throughout the meal. He even invited me into his tiny kitchen where he produced these marvelous dishes. The wine was a very elegant and smooth Merlot that was from a winery about 15 miles outside of Montpellier. A rouge vin de pays de la region (local red wine of the region). It paired nicely with the plat du jour: 1/2 coquelet roti au gulis de poivron corquettes. A half a chicken roasted and served with steamed vegetables (potatoes and zuchinni) and a very good tomato based spicy sauce.
Because I enjoyed my experience so much at La Symphonie, I returned the next night. I actually sat in another restaurant but the 18 year-old waiter didn't give me the attention that I enjoyed the night before so I politetly slipped out of the restaurant and took my 30 minute walk back to La Symphonie. Not to be dissapointed again, I had the plat du jour: Canard confit with mushrooms, poached in broth and braised endive, potatoes, and a poached portabello top.
Le 23 provided my last lunch in Montpellier. The restaurant was also well known for its regional cuisine and was a very elegant and small, local establishment. The plat du jour (plate of the day): Coq au vin. Chicken leg and wing cooked in a red wine mushroom sauce with steamed carrots, grean peas, and potatoes au gratin.
My final night in Montpellier was another doozy. I love to menu shop and here in France, it is national law that all restaurant must display the menu with prices outside the restaurant for all passer-by's to use as comparison with other restaurants. I might be weird, but I walk for a good 2 hours reading menus and eyeballing inside the restaurant to see if it will provide the dining atmosphere that I am hoping to experience! L' Escalier was the local restaurant tucked down a very lonely street next to a pub filled with local's watching the Chelsea vs. Manchester United soccer match. The plat: Magaret de canard with a sweet blueberry sauce, honey glazed carrots, potatoes au gratin, and string green beans.
Even though all of these meals came with entrees and desserts, this one was by far the best at La Symphonie. A chocolat flambouse with whipped chantily. Molten chocolate cake with fresh, whipped cream. C'est Bonne (It is good)! Mes compliments au chef!

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