Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Les Jardins des Sens (Montpellier)


Winot
 Share

Recommended Posts

A group of us are holidaying close to Montpellier this June and are tempted by Les Jardins des Sens.

Would you go for Friday dinner or Saturday lunch?

What about staying overnight in the hotel?

And finally, we will have a 9 month baby with us.  Will that cause any problems for them?

Many thanks,

Winot

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Winot -- The hotel is modern and has attractive lines, and not particularly expensive for what it is.  Clearly a good choice with respect to accomodations if you would otherwise be in Montpellier. With respect to hotels associated with a three-star, second only to Troigros (note I have not visited Michel Bras yet).  Rooms begin at Euros 150, according to the website.

I am not a big fan of the Pourcels' cooking -- too many ingredients in a dish, without any need for that (not that my assessment should be accorded weight; e.g., I also dislike Gagnaire's cuisine). However, I have had two meals there during the last year and may take in another one before June. (I happen to be stopping by Montpellier, and am not going there in order to visit the restaurant, but instead to drive to M Bras) lizziee has mentioned somewhere in this forum that she was not particularly enamored of her meal at Jardin either.

However, my sense is that, for most three-stars, it's worth it to at least sample the cuisine once. If you were to take that approach, you have nothing to lose.  Also, note that Jardin is not particularly expensive as far as three-stars go. Their website remains in French, but is a good way to get a feel for the rooms and the place.  See also the Relais & Chateaux pictures below:

http://www.relaischateaux.com/site/us/Fich...Code=jardinsens

If you are interested in tasting notes, I do not have them with me currently.  Below is the restaurant site's indicative prix fixe menus:

http://www.jardin-des-sens.com/menus.htm

(beginning at Euro 46 for lunch Tues-Fri, except holidays; other menus are at Euro 90 or 122 for many dishes).

Let me know if you are interested in menu translations. Also, as you may know, there is a convenient TGV from Paris to Montpellier, if your trip involves a stay in Paris.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I've mentioned, I've loved most of my meals there, but have not been back since it's gotten it's third star. I've heard mixed reports since. The twin chefs now have restaurants in Paris and Avignon and a project in Tokyo. One reliable source reported service so distracting that she couldn't pay attention to what she ate. Nevertheless, it kept it's three stars and as cabrales notes, there's no such thing as a three star restaurant that's not an interesting experience.

I don't know what problems a baby would cause for them. How comfortable are you with dining in a reasonably fine restaurant with the baby? I personally don't mind seeing a baby in a restaurant, but I expect the parent to be the one who's inconvenienced if the baby starts to fuss. Assuming you are the sort who will sacrifice your meal for sake of the rest of room's enjoyment I shouldn't see a special problem here.

By the way, you might want to check out Graham Tigg's web pages devoted to dining in the Languedoc if you're spending some time in the area.

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.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to you both.  My French is just about good enough to get a sense of the menu -- looks interesting.

The baby belongs (?) to friends rather than to me, and they would certainly avoid inconveniencing other diners.  If we can get rooms at the hotel then they will try to rig up their baby monitor and leave kiddo in their room.

Thanks also for the link to Tigg's page -- we're spending a week in Aniane (primarily for the wine) and it looks like a great resource.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take a look at Pourcel's new brasserie: La Compagnies des comptoirs

Any one visited it?

Patrice -- I have visited neither the Compagnie des Comptoirs in Montpellier nor the more recent one in Avignon (where my sense is that that facility would not be among my first choices necessarily, without having visited).  I wonder what the quality of the Avignon place might be, given that it is presumably more difficult for the Pourcels to directly supervise than the Montpellier arm.  Anyhow, I have thought about the Montpellier arm because it might be open 7 days a week (?), unlike Jardin.  :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aniane (primarily for the wine)

We have friends in Margon, and Neffies. We use the markets at Clermont l'Herault and Pezanas when we stay in Margon. Clermont is very near you and has a good market. I think it's on Tuesday, [NB: I stand corrected by Graham Tigg--it's on Wednesday] but I'm not sure about that. Pezenas, closer to us, has it's market on Saturday.

We had the 2000 Mas de Daumas Gassac blanc the other night and loved it. It was a bit of a surprise how much we loved it as a previous experience was not as pleasant. I wonder if it was the vintage or a bad bottle. I also understand that this is a wine that changes very much as it ages and develops different characters at different ages.

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.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Clermont market is on Wednesday.

Mas de Daumas Gassac has been seriously variable in quality over the past decade (both red and white). If you like the white then Mas Julien Blanc is superior most years these days, more reliable, and nearly half the price. I've tasted both side by side several times.

On Le Jardin de Sens I agree with cabrales that there can be too many ingredients in the Pourcels' dishes and the service is often patchy. That said the weekday lunch menu looks tempting and a good way to put your toe in the water as it were. We haven't been for a while simply because the excitement and energy of the place had gone on our last couple of visits compared to the heady ascention days in the mid-90s.

Children in French restaurants are never a problem, but if you use a carry cot you obviously may want to ask for a table that isn't in the middle of the room (and many are at Le Jardin de Sens).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never tasted the Mas Julien Blanc directly against a Mas de Daumas Gassac, but I've had more of the former and would agree that it's one to look for. My understanding is that production is not very great and hardly enough to meet demand. Our hosts in the area are great fans and get their short supply from Mas Julien.

I seem to have recalled that Mas de Daumas Gassac was in Aniane. I don't know exactly where Mas Julien is located. I also remember the Mas de Daumas Gassac's successful attempt at keeping Mondavi out of the neighborhood. I have no real political opinion on that battle except to say that it was political. There were locals on both sides.

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.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That said the weekday lunch menu looks tempting and a good way to put your toe in the water as it were.

The weekday lunch does appear to be a very good value, and would argue for Jardin (assuming you are in Montpellier during the weekdays on which the special lunch is available) over Comptoir, where I assume you could readily spend approximately the same amount.  Of course, the cost of the originally-under-50 euro special lunch could increase considerably (as a %) even if you were to take a glass of champagne.  :wink:

When I was walking around Palais Royal, I noticed Grand Vefour has an under-75 euro special lunch. I will report on what that contains shortly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friends do not particularly recommend Pourcel's second place--Compagnie des Comptoirs. Service was intolerable on two occasions. They also suggest Cellier-Moral, no stars in Michelin, but a 16 in GaultMillau. The place is also known as Maison de la Lozère.

You should be able to find the Mas Julien Blanc in restaurants and better wine shops, but it's generally sold out at the winery. Our friends have a 6 bottle allotment directly the winery. They also suggest looking for the St. Jean de Bebian--le Prieuré (their better red) and the white (they only make one white).

The market in Clermont l'Hereault is only open in the morning. Get there early. Parking in town is a problem on market day.

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.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife and I were making tentative plans for a jaunt from Nice to Lagioule, with a stop at Le Jardin des Sens. While studying its website, I noticed that the grammatical construction of the description of the dishes resembled that of Chapel. The Pourcel twins apprenticed at different restaurants- Laurent at Chapel and maybe the other at Michel Bras. Can anyone who has been at Le Jardin des Sens tell me if they got a sense that each brother made his own dish or if they collaborated (or some of both)? This is a tough question, but did anyone notice a wide variance in the conception of the dishes or feel that two distinct styles were going on? Did anyone raise this matter with the chefs or the dining room staffers? It's interesting because most great restaurants are solo acts as far as the lead chef is concerned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never went to their restaurant, but I own their book.  If I remember corectly, one of the twin works on the appatizers and the desserts, while the other conceive the main courses.

Patrice Demers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patrice, thanks. Now that you mention it, I believe I read that somewhere else. The whole matter of collaboration has always been an interesting one in art (Gilbert & George, Stenberg Brothers, Rodchenko & Stepanova, etc.) It might be as interesting in making food as well. Who else is there? The Troisgros' in Roanne, Lorains' in Joigny,etc. However, twins or brothers seem more inherently interesting than father-son.) Has anyone looked into this or seen anything about it? What about the sisters in Belcastel, Bux?. "Culinary Collaboration". I claim the book rights for myself. Maybe I need a collaborator!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can anyone who has been at Le Jardin des Sens tell me if they got a sense that each brother made his own dish or if they collaborated (or some of both)? This is a tough question, but did anyone notice a wide variance in the conception of the dishes or feel that two distinct styles were going on? Did anyone raise this matter with the chefs or the dining room staffers? .

It has been reported that, originally, Jacques took care of fish and desserts. This reflects the fact that he used to be chef pâtissier when Pierre Gagnaire was at Saint-Étienne.  Laurent took care of the appetizers and meat dishes.

http://www.saveurs.sympatico.ca/cshcf/rous...on/pourcel2.htm

("En cuisine, Jacques s'occupe des poissons et des desserts, Laurent des entrées et des viandes.")

When I was at Jardin in 3Q/4Q 2001, I was discussing with one of the dining room team members my observation that Jacques (I think; I don't like the twins' cuisine and I wasn't paying particular attention) seemed to be standing near the entryway to the hotel quite a bit around the beginning of services.  The team member noted that Jacques is a bit more social, and also considers strategy a bit more. Then, he noted that, with the creation of Maison Blanche in Paris and Companie des Comptoirs in Avignon, there needed to be more travel and Jacques was often the twin interested in such activities. The sense I received was that Laurent may be cooking more nowadays.  I have not received an update since 3Q/early 4Q 2001.  

Like Robert, I have been interested in the question of dual chefs for a while (e.g., Jean/Pierre Troisgros, Pierre/Michel Troisgros during a certain prior period, Jacques Lameloise and his father previously, the Haeberlins during a certain period, the tumultous period when Anne Sophie Pic was returning to Pic and the resulting difficulties with her brother, Gaston/Guerard Boyer during a certain period, J-M Lorain and his father during a certain period -- this was particularly interesting to me as Michelin explicitly credited the work of both father and son when it awarded the now-removed third star).  :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your help, and an interesting thread.  We have a reservation now at Les Jardins and rooms at the hotel for Friday evening 21 June.  I'll let you know how it goes.

A supplementary -- is there a dress code?  I know that French restaurants tend to be a little smarter than English; is it enough to look smart or is a jacket and tie required?

On the subject of sibling collaboration, there are of course notable examples in the world of cinema (the Coens, the Wacholskis) and art (the Chapmans) -- probably lots more.  Perhaps these art forms are more conducive to collaboration than is cooking?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A supplementary -- is there a dress code?  I know that French restaurants tend to be a little smarter than English; is it enough to look smart or is a jacket and tie required?

I don't know where to start on that. The French tend to dress a bit more stylish than the English, but often ape the English style which has a certain "class" or "snob" appeal in France. The English however are more likely to be wearing a tie, in my experience.

On le Jardin des Sens specifically, the first time we were there, I asked the guy at the desk of our hotel about dress. He said it was Montpellier's finest restaurant and jacket and tie would be appropriate. I wore a jacket and tie and was in the minority. As my wife said, "that's what you get for asking a guy who's probably never been there." It was not a problem. About half the men wore a jacket and a number had ties. I was not out of place. You'd see a table with a 45 year old father wearing a tie and his 20 year old son in shirt sleeves. This was when the restaurant had two stars. French dining rooms, especially outside Paris are becoming less formal every day, or at least every year, particularly in the summer. If you look neat and attractive and feel comfortable, you'll be fine. You'll probably see someone in jeans, although they are likely to be jeans that have been ironed.

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.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

8209092_cde950b25a_m.jpg

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eleganthack/sets/204297/

this link has photos, with descriptions of every course, of my meal with my cousin at Jardin des Sens in montpellier.

Overall, a very good meal but not as good as either meal I've had at the french laundry. It's my first french three star, and while not michel bras or troisgros, I expected as certain level--- it was better than ducasse in new york, but still I left feeling-- well, I dunnno. I wonder sometimes if I've gotten a bit jaded. Maybe it's time to stop spending crazy money on food. um, right after this month's return to french laundry. hmm.

wow, i didn't mean that to sound so whiny. I guess I just have some ideas about what I want from a three star meal. I want every dish to be a discovery or a rediscovery of the true nature of the ingrediants, and the chef to show his adoration and delight in his relationship with the food, so my mouth can only compare to "seurat! david bowie! chopin! picasso!"

Eating very well recently as made me really realize the pain of a great chef is that when he is gone, no art is left, only memories that fade in his clientel. No museum fo rhim. I hope someday someone invents a taste-recorder!

also of potential interest, a one-star in the dordogne, http://www.flickr.com/photos/eleganthack/t...epontdelouysse/

terrific setting and tasty food. They'll have another star before long, if they can address some service misteps.

Edited by et alors (log)

"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't seen the 2005 Michelin, but I thought I read it had lost a star. Perhaps it was a misreading of something Françios Simon wrote about it. The current Michelin web site clearly shows Jardin des Sens as having three stars. With all the troubles Michelin has been having, it would not be the greatest surprise if the web site and Guide were out of sync, but it still seems unlikely.

I have very fond memories of several meals there, all some time ago. I haven't been back since they got their third star. I've been hearing mixed reviews for some time now.

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.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, the Jardin des Sens has three stars. Thanks for posting the info about your meal! I'm heading to the Jardin myself in a few months.

Chez Pim of egullet reknown posted the lastest info on this years Michelin meanderings and it confirms as reported in many forums that the Pourcel twins have lost thier 3 star status. This has been speculated on since they have allowed their focus to broaden with the other restaurants in which they have become involved.

http://chezpim.typepad.com/blogs/files/GuideMichelin2005.pdf

Edited by Laidback (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And I should add that the cooking at the Jardin des Sens is better than ever.

What was sanctioned was very probably the opening of too many restaurants in too many places and the general feeling that the Pourcels were spreading themselves too thin. However, I think the sanction is unfair to Laurent Pourcel, who focuses entirely on his kitchen and does a wonderful job. The Jardin des Sens in itself didn't deserve to lose this star.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...