This restaurant is in the outskirts of Bordeaux with a narrow dining room and a small but attractive garden, which is where we ate on this warm spring evening. A couple of set menus were EUR 70 and EUR 100 for an eight course version, while both starters and main courses hovered around the EUR 40 mark, with desserts EUR 17. Hence a three course a la carte meal was going to set you back around EUR 100 before coffee, water or wine.
The 25 page wine list Haut Batailley 2004 was EUR 96 compared to a UK price of EUR 26, Lynch Bages 1990 was EUR 459 for a wine you can buy in the UK for EUR 169, and Mas de Daumas Gassace red 2005 at EUR 98 was four times retail the UK price. Breads were a choice of white or brown rolls and were good, made from scratch (15/20).
Nibbles were a sardine marinated in cider and served on cold mash potato (an odd choice in my view), while another sardine was served with red radish (14/20). We shared a starter of lobster, which was tender enough, but served with vanilla mash (vanilla in savoury courses seems to me a generally dubious idea, the more so in mash) and a good Sauternes sauce. It would have been nice if they discarded the green innards of the lobster rather than serving it up, which surely is a pretty basic error? 14/20 if I count just the bit of lobster that was supposed to be there.
Turbot was better, served with cream of cauliflower and a seaweed cream. The turbot was properly cooked and was a good quality piece of fish (15/20). Chicken was a little over-cooked but had good flavour, served with a piece of chorizo, a sort of rice crispy garnish, a well-made creamy risotto of morels, and a little trio of sauces: peas, saffron mussels and squid ink. These were colourful but I am not convinced worked very harmoniously (14/20).
Cheese included a nice three year old aged Comte and St Nectaire; the affineur used is Mr Mons from near Lyon (cheese 15/20). A pre-dessert of lemon appeared, with a vodka espuma, lemon sorbet and meringue (15/20 for this, though the lemon sorbet itself was better).
A dessert of salt caramel chocolate came with coffee ice cream and a panna cotta of cream, and a rock-hard meringue (13/20). Exotic fruit came with a nice pina colada sorbet served on a flaccid cookie, and a decorative pineapple crisp with a piece missing (perhaps this was the chef equivalent of modern art). Overall 12/20 for this dish.
Service was fairly attentive, as well it might be given we were the only diners for most of the evening, but the wine topping up fell apart when one other table of diners appeared; perhaps the stress was too much for the staff. The bill came to EUR 125 each with a cheap (and not very good) wine, and that was with us sharing a starter. The prices of the a la carte dishes at this one-star restaurant are almost the same as at the sublime (3 star) Michel Guerard, where we ate the following night. This seems out of all proportion to the quality of food we ate, and indeed on this evening there were precisely four diners all evening including us, so perhaps the locals have reached the same conclusion.