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marcus

Restaurants in the Deep Southwest

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We will be driving from Montpellier to the Costa Brava in late May over a 4-5 day period and would appreciate some recommendations as to your favorite restaurants. It appears that we will miss Auberged de Vieux Puits due to its closing days, although everything that I've read about it has been quite mixed as well. We are very much appreciative of restaurants that show terroir at all levels of ambition.

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In Montpellier, try to make reservations at the Lycée Hotelier restaurant, La Colline. As with other hotel schools the restaurant is the ultimate test for the young chefs in training. As a result, customers are treated to near perfect service and food preparations. It is extremely difficult to get a reservation, but well worth it. Two other very good restaurants in Montpellier are Le Menestrelle and Isadora. Although the Michelin 3-star Le Jardin des Sens is located in that town, we have not tried it.

A very good place to sample quality cuisine of the terroir is the restaurant at the Hostellerie Saint Benoit, located in Aniane, approximately 35 km north of Montpellier. This is an ideal spot for lunch while visiting some of the wineries in Languedoc?s ?Golden Triangle? of Montpeyroux, Jonquières, and St. Saturnin. Very near Jonquières, in the tiny town of St. Jean-de-la-Blaquière is Le Sanglier, an inn with modest rooms, which serves first rate cuisine of the terroir. Collioure has a wealth of good restaurants, both along the water and tucked along the narrow streets. For a terroir experience, I would recommend a cozy, little, bohemian restaurant on the Rue du Docteur Coste ? Le Zouave. Although it labels itself as a tapas restaurant, it serves very hearty portions of traditional French, Spanish and Catalan regional food, fresh and expertly prepared by a young espresso-sipping, cigarette-smoking, young chef in a t-shirt. The tarte tatin and prune cake portions were for giants, served on dinner sized plates. Slightly north of Collioure, in Argelès sur Mer, we had a very tasty meal at the Michelin 1-star Auberge du Roua?La Belle Demeure, however, the service was extremely spotty and indifferent, which diminished our experience.

Near Figueres, we enjoyed our meals at Mas Pau, a lovely small hotel and Michelin 1-star restaurant located in a converted 16th century stone farm house. Very good Catalan food with some modern tweaks.

I will not discuss the obvious eateries of El Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca, and El Raco de Can Fabes. Having said that, we met a group of physicians from Tarragona who agreed that Can Roca was the best deal in Spanish Catalonia for both the dining experience and the price. They believed that the dining experience at El Bulli and Can Fabes were not very much better than Can Roca to merit the menu prices charged. They were horrified by the cost to eat at Can Fabes.

Other than these comments I would point you toward some of the eGullet Spain threads I reviewed by Robert Brown on restaurants in Girona and Barcelona. He has written some very complete reviews of the best places to eat in these areas.

- Marina


Marina C.

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