Why Try These Five Small Southwestern French Restaurants

All five restaurants below I discovered unexpectedly. I found Influences because all other nearby restaurants were (fortunately!) booked; discovered La Quincaillerie while searching for a phone store; bumped into Cuisine & Dépendance while exploring the neighboring town; found Chez Loïc on recommendation from a local hotel owner, and discovered Réserve du Presbytére also because the adjacent hotel owners recommended it. Each of these five venues (in comparison to dozens of others I visited in their regions) are warm, welcoming, cater to small quantities of dedicated locals and surprised visitors, and offer food as well as wine pairings meticulously thought out. Owners and staff are dedicated culinary artisans, and welcoming.

Restaurant: Influences

Location: 36 Rue Saint Sernin, Bordeaux city

The San Francisco owner/chef prepares surprise meals based on local ingredients in a spacious, lean decor restaurant within the city. For example—broccoli with trout eggs followed by maigre (croker) fish with seasonal vegetables (celery, radishes) in a bisque sauce. This is a medley of earthy, eclectic flavors with a hit of cilantro and lime paired with a Chablis white wine. Next—a supreme of pintade (guinea fowl) with black truffles from the Perigord. The flavors are focused, precise and intense and the cooked vegetables uncannily crunchy and delicate. Memorable food from a very intent chef and team.

Restaurant: La Quincaillerie

Location: 30 Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, Montendre

The small town of Montendre with its attractive but small, ancient center includes—on a sloped hillside—the restaurant La Quincaillerie (meaning hardware store, which it used to be). The antique interior is attractive—with a grand central staircase passing an open kitchen to the right and wine selection/sometimes store on the left. The owners/chefs moved to this small town less than two years ago, previously having worked in Denmark, Luxembourg, the U.K., Norway and Australia. Flavors and presentation here are delicious and attractive. Try the smoked beetroot with fresh goat cheese, garlic and Iberico Spanish ham paired with a Les Romains Sancerre from Domaine Fouassier, followed by seared ‘pluma’ pork shoulder with a sweet and sour purée of honey chestnut sauce, paired with a Loire Valley La Tour Saint-Martin Pinot Noir from Domaine Minchin—zesty and fresh. The locale is deep country, the ambience is warm, personal, attentive. Quite the jewel.

Restaurant: Cuisine & Dépendance

Location: 9 Place de la Libération, Bourg-en-Gironde

The smallest and best restaurant in the ancient village of Bourg-en-Gironde, which sits adjacent to the largest estuary in Europe. The 22 seat space (more when the terrace is open) is next to the small town plaza circling a covered market structure. The owners—affable and attentive—transplanted from Paris years ago. The atmosphere is simple and energetic, and seasonal dishes are tasty and unpretentious.

Try dorado ceviche (ceviche de daurade) with a glass of Château Tour des Graves white wine that is crisp, fruity and a lively start to a spring lunch. For main course, consider either spinach Parmesan risotto (risotto Parmesan épinards) or grilled duck breast (magret de canard poêlé) with a glass of Château Brûlesécailles Côtes de Bourg red wine. The kitchen is open, the staff are casual and the well made food is served quickly and satisfies.

Restaurant: Bistro Chez Loïc

Location: 37 Place du Château, Jonzac

Jonzac is a magnificently historical small city with this otherworldly vibe of being somewhere familiar yet distant. Here, intersecting alleys bifurcate, trifurcate and curl all at once and the local tourist office sells a booksabout 22 local flowers that provide natural remedies. There is a calmness here, perhaps partially derived from the town’s proximity to beautiful vistas of wavy agricultural fields.

The bistro is lively and filled with dedicated local customers. Chef Loïc steps out of the kitchen to serve each hot dish directly on plates. The hearty duck breast is as juicy and well barbecued Cajun country ribs, and best paired with a biodynamic Domaine de la Réserve d’O from the Languedoc—a swirling blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. A lively, personal and attentive venue.

Restaurant: La Réserve du Presbytére.

Location: 22 Grand Rue, Montagne-Saint-Émilion

This excellent restaurant is within this satellite wine appellation of Saint-Émilion. Try the noix Saint-Jacques rôtie, risotto Arborio à la truffe noir, or grilled scallops with risotto and black truffles, paired with a Château de Chemilly Chablis wine, followed by a dessert of soufflé au Grand Marnier et sorbet de moment, or Grand Marnier soufflé with sorbet in season. Warm, professional staff and excellent cooking within a cozy atmosphere. Consistent quality within a genuinely friendly space.

#Small #Southwestern #French #Restaurants

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