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Restaurants in Dordogne


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I happen to have been reading an old copy of Travel and Leisure Magazine (March 2003) where Leslie Brenner has a very sweet article of her travels in that area. It made me want to revisit the Dordogne and go to some of the restaurants she mentioned. She mentions about six different places in the area varying in prices from about $53-147 for dinner for two. She also mentions that on Wednesdays and Saturdays the outdoor market in Sarlat is one of the best in the Dordogne. The two places which sounded fantastic were the Restaurant La Bastide in Monpazier (South of the Dordogne River) and L'Oison in the Chateau de Reynats in Chancelade close to Perigueux. The last time we were in that area was ages ago and we did have an incredible meal at Le Centennaire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

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The Dordogne is one of our favorite departments in France. The rolling hills, the ubiquitous castles, the Bastide towns, and the less-touristy atmosphere make for a wonderful experience. Sarlat is a dreamy town with a breathtaking centre-ville full of medieval architecture and closed off to traffic.

Do not miss the caves with the 20,000 year old cave drawings near there, these will probably be closed in a couple of years because the drawings are being deteriorated by the visitors CO2 that is being exhaled. The Grotte de Font de Gaume and the Grotte des Combarelles are about 25 mins from Sarlat, in Les Eyzies. You must make an appointment as well, only 200 people per day are allowed in. An experience you will remember forever.

As far as food, I recommend the wonderful "Fermes Auberges" that proliferate throughout this area. These are working farms where the food served is all grown or raised on the premises. The one we ate at was on the D46 leaving Sarlat toward La Roque-Gageac, on the right side, about 4 miles out of Sarlat. A fabulous, unique experience.

Please report back on your Dordogne activities so that we can vicariously enjoy them through your descriptions!! Bon voyage!

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Our favourite restaurant in the Dordogne - maybe even all of France - is Le Gindreau in St. Medard, about 20 minutes by car west of Cahors. Highly regarded by locals and visiting Parisians, it scarcely rates a mention elsewhere as a worthy destination, perhaps because it is "only" a Michelin one star among many in the area, is slightly off the tourist track (ie, Paris, Provence, Alsace, Brittainy, the Rhone valley) except maybe for the Brits, many of whom live in the region, and has no chic accommodations on site or even nearby.

The food, however, is high quality and well-prepared. Alexis Pellissou does equally wonderful things with both humble (pigs ears) and luxe (truffles) local ingredients, he and his wife, Martine, are unfailingly warm and charming hosts, the staff well-trained, professional and cordial to one and all (especially Robert, the sommelier) and the service friendly, efficient and unpretentious in the best traditions of country dining. The prices are a bargain compared to those in more high traffic areas.

The restaurant is in a renovated schoolhouse on a bluff overlooking the valley. If the weather is nice, you can eat outside and enjoy the pretty view. The wine list is strong on local Cahors wines. When we were there last year, the new pastry chef produced some memorable desserts. A lot of attention is paid to detail, down to the clasps on the linen napkins.

We've been to Le Gindreau six times since 1997 and had consistently good meals at the lower end of the price range, which are excellent value, especially for lunch.

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Try Moulin Du Roc in Champagnac de Belair, near the town of Brantome. It was a Mich 1 star when we went couple of years back. We stayed at the hotel, which is along a river and quite picturesque. It has a small bridge across the river leading to a nice garden. We normally eat only once in a hotel restaurant. But the food was very good (and fair prices, also for decent wine list), so we ended up eating there several times. I had beef w truffle sauce, panfried foie gras with some fruit glaze, and lobster on separate meals. The restaurant was generally full, always a good sign.

The small town of Brantome itself is also worth visiting, especially on marche day. The marche is not large, but we bought some excellent roast quail, bread, cheese, boiled shrimp and picnicked in the park, which is surrounded by rivers.

Moulin was probably the best one star, out of six we went to. It may be 40 minutes from Sarlat though.

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Our favourite restaurant in the Dordogne - maybe even all of France - is Le Gindreau in St. Medard, about 20 minutes by car west of Cahors.  Highly regarded by locals and visiting Parisians, it scarcely rates a mention elsewhere as a worthy destination, perhaps because it is "only" a Michelin one star among many in the area,

Of all three Michelin designations, the one star is the least reliable. The two and three star designations note an absolute level of attainment. One star indicates quality relative to the area. Thus a remote one star restaurant far removed from all over starred restaurant may be quite disappointing even if the best meal in the area, but a one star surrounded by other stars is usually worthy of notice.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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