Les Loges de Aubergarde (Michel Trama)

52 rue Royale, Puymirol, 47270, France

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The restaurant is situated on the main street of the sleepy village of Puymirol, which is about 78 km north west of Toulouse. The building is a former monastery with a cosy courtyard. We stayed in room 1, which had access to a secluded roof-top area where you can bask in the sun. The dining room is quite large, which appeared all the more so on the evening we visited since there were so few other diners, just four other couples all night aside from a private party sponsored by Davidoff cigars (the chef, Michel Trama, is very fond of cigars). We had our amuse-bouche by a real wood fire in the reception area. These consisted of a very delicate tart with goat’s cheese mousse (20/20), two crispy wafers in between which were onions and walnuts (17/20) and two further wafers containing a sliver of smooth foie gras terrine (18/20) and a baby tomato stuffed with herbs (19/20). A final amuse bouche was a cornet of daurade (sea bream) in the form of a fluffy fish mousse laced with wasabi at the top of the cone, and tiny pieces of daurade at the bottom of the cone. The wasabi was an excellent way to enliven the flavour of the fish mousse, and was judged just right so that it added to, but did not overpower, the fish. The ice-cream cornet was sweet, and perhaps this was one idea too many, as a savoury taste would have been better here, but the crisp texture added substance to the very light mousse (20/20).

The breads comprised mini loaves, a white baguette with a delicious crust (20/20), a brown baguette with seeds, the first one of which I have to say was a little burnt (19/20 for the non-burnt version!) a soft potato bread (18/20) and breadsticks with Parmesan (18/20). In general the bread was well-seasoned and had excellent texture and taste. My wife started with cod brandade. This was served as a piped mousse, arranged in three rows of six little pieces, the rows separated by ultra-thick potato crisps. One row of the salt cod was topped with a little tomato sauce, one row with basil sauce and the other with mango sauce. At one end of the plate was a pool of tomato coulis, at the other end a pool of basil coulis, and a little jug on the side with mango coulis. The salt cod was most impressive, light and fluffy yet retaining its true flavour (20/20). I had the signature dish, which I should warn you was an absurd 95 euros. It was a combination of pieces of potato and mashed potato wrapped in a cabbage leaf and cooked with slivers of black truffle, the potato resting in a pool of black truffle sauce. The potato was very fine and the earthy taste of the truffles permeated the potato well, but one has to wonder at the price (18/20).

For her main course, my wife had a lasagne of lobster with black truffles, chunks of tender lobster with very finely diced vegetables wrapped in extremely fine layers of pasta and garnished with a sprig of coriander. The pasta was surrounded by a black truffle sauce. This was very classy, the pasta tender and the vegetables excellent (19/20). I had a “cassoulet” that turned out to be no such thing other than being served in a pot. It consisted of lamb sweetbreads and morels in a creamy mushroom sauce, topped with baby green asparagus. The morels were stunning, the sweetbreads tender and the creamy sauce delicious (19/20).

The cheese was the only let-down here, a rare occurrence in France. There was no board, just a selection of four local cheeses (two goat, two cow). When they arrived they were clearly taken straight from the fridge as they were all very cold. Though they were in good condition there is no excuse for this, especially as I had indicated early on that I wanted cheese (you have to pick dessert at the same time as the other dishes). 15/20. They were served with a good salad of baby mixed leaves with a nicely-balanced dressing.

For dessert my wife had raspberry tart. The chef seems to have a linear presentation theme, since the tart arrived as a very long, thin tart, just one raspberry wide and eighteen raspberries long. The fruit was of the highest quality, which for no good reason had been sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. The shortbread base was excellent, topped with fine crème patissiere (19/20).

I had a pear shaped arrangement of chocolate wafers hiding a rich, dark velvety chocolate mousse inside. This was made from very fine chocolate, and the mousse had great depth of flavour as well as fabulous texture. As an added dimension there were a few griottines steeped in alcohol embedded in the mousse, and three additional ones as garnish. On the side was a little jug of what turned out to be crème anglaise, and this may have been the best I have ever tasted, with a consistency that was just on the balance between lightness and yet thickness; it was of the highest quality (20/20).

The coffee was very good, served with a few petit fours: a Chinese gooseberry with caramel was about the best I have seen anyone do with this overrated fruit. There was a further chocolate tart within which was the same perfect chocolate mousse, and a pastry base with a little crème patissiere on top (18/20 for the petit-fours).

Service was patchy. The female sommelier was excellent, and given the tiny number of diners one would expect that there would be a good level of attention, yet as soon as the private party next door reached its peak the service faltered badly, and the dining room was left for minutes at a time with no waiting staff at all. This is not typical in top French restaurants. Oddly, there was also fairly poor muzak played at a surprisingly high volume all evening in the dining room. Overall, I found the cooking to be technically excellent and innovative. This thoroughly deserved its three stars, and indeed is much better than many restaurants with this accolade.

One minor note was that when we checked out we were presented with a bill with two coffees we did not have (EUR 8) which were only gracelessly taken off the bill, and a charge for a beer and glass of house wine of EUR 28. Yes, read it again, one bottle of beer and a glass of wine in the room for EUR 28. This was absurd, and yet I was forcibly told that this was the correct charge and I would have to pay it. I found this left a sour taste in my mouth after a magnificent meal.

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  • Name unavailable

    We stayed last night (St Valentines day) at les Loges de aubergade. This was our second opportunity to dine here. The hotel was excellent, the room beautiful the service confident and relaxed. On our way to dine we walked through the kitchen said hello to the chefs, Michel Trama took a photo of us with his mobile and emailed it to us as we had unfortunately forgotten our camera. Being Valentines night it was a set menu but in addition we opted for his signature papillote de pommes de terre en sauce truffe. All seven courses were sublime, quite simply the best food we have ever eaten. The wine list was extensive, the Chateau Lagrazette 2005 la pigeoniere (cahors) excellent and reasonable at 190 euros. Simply the best, better resume saving for next time.

  • Peter Benson

    Had lunch here and was left wondering if somehow the 3 star experience was only available at dinner. We had the market menu - just three courses plus Amuses bouche, a second entrée and coffee with petit fours. The meal didn't have the consistency that I would expect of a three star restaurant nor did it have any wow factor. A lovely ambience, and a starter of cauliflower risotto with summer truffles was superb both in taste and texture. An espresso was disappointing. It was a lovely place and a very nice meal but in my opinion wasn't deserving of three stars.

  • Mark Thompson

    My wife and I stayed and dined at Michel Trama on June 21. The weather was nice enough to enjoy our evening outside on their terrace. We choose the eight course 'Menu Gourmand'. The beginning of the meal started very well with fresh and pleasing flavors. The first dish was frozen vegetable puree (close to ice cream) with a deep red pepper and tomato flavor ... it was very delicious and my description does not do it justice. The second dish of lobster spring rolls was excellent However, as the meal progressed it did not seem to build into a crescendo, but rather stayed flat at the cool, amuse bouche state. The meat course had a choice and we both selected 'La pastilla d'agneau aux epices', which was seven hour lamb filled in light pastry ... this was a very good course and the highlight of the evening. Dessert followed with four elements of green apple sorbet, fresh cherries & vanilla ice cream, layered creme brulee, and a chocolate tear drop with a cherry inside ... desserts were also very good. Somewhat disappointing was no cheese cart and a very limited bread offering. The initial fresh flavors, lobster spring rolls, seven hour lamb, and desserts were very good, but the meal lacked a wow factor of our top experiences.

  • Dr & Mrs John Gauntlett

    22/9/07 The food was the best ever. The Wine list a dream. The environment sublime. The village serene. We cannot wait to return. Better than Le Cinq !!!

  • Michael LaCombe

    Puymirol is the home of my ancestors and so the Aubergade was a wonderful surprise addition to my visit to the town. As did you, I found the restaurant perfect, a 10/10, but found every aspect of the meal, service, and hotel perfect as well. Remember, Mr. Trama is not in Paris and yet look at what he has done. He was as well the perfect host. I love the place.