|It’s Saturday the 31st of March, Peter’s birthday: big 65.I booked a table for two in La Truffe Noire in Brive la Gaillard for lunch.Just an hour drive south from home, but what a difference to a landscape: most of the trees are already showing the newborn greens and the snow-white blossom has gently started enveloping the fruit trees like a bridal veil. The sun was shining in the blue clear sky and the warm breeze was gently kissing the skin through the open window – perfect day for a celebration!|
|Brive la Gaillard is a fairly sizeable town. The beautiful old stone houses line the narrow streets, and the new-builds are carefully crafted to harmoniously join them with matching colors of local stone and slate covered roofs.|
|The narrow one-way streets turning and turning, squeezing between the buildings, eventually lead us to the Hotel-restaurant. The young handsome waiter greeted us at the doors and started speaking in English as soon as he heard our obviously accented “Bonjour”. I replied to him in French; we are in France after all. We chose one of the tables on the terrace. Surprisingly there were few other patrons.|
|The “Handsome” took our orders and a waitress brought over our wine, or shall I say, Peter’s wine. Oh yes, he had the whole bottle of very nice light red for himself. I had to stick to my bottle of “eau minerale” as I was driving and it was his 65th Birthday after all. Cheers!|
|The third waiter arrived with sets of folks, knives and spoons for our starters. It did feel special: so much fuss around the two of us.|
|And here comes the starter: we ordered different food, so we can try each other’s. Peter had “Cassoulet lutèe d’escargots ” Gros Gris” Girolles et coulis de persil” – Snails and Girolles cassoulets in parsley coulis. It was well presented and beautifully decorated with a sesamed curl of crunchy “paté brick” : it was absolutely yummy!
|I chose « Œufs cocotte sauce Cèpes et Foie gras » – pot of baked egg with cep sauce and Foie gras, which left me somewhat disappointed. Maybe, it was because I have made a similar dish for our guests at La Croix du Reh so many times that I expected it to be something truly special, especially for the price of it ( 14€ seemed to be a little too ambitious).|
|The main course was really good: Peter was raving about his “Ris de Veau aux Cèpes” – Veal Sweetbreads with mashed potatoes with ceps and vegetables. For once my husband could not even speak, it was food from heaven! I don’t know how, but he has this amazing ability to pick the best dishes out of a menu, even if it’s written in French!|
|I had a “Découverte poissons” – “Discovering fish” which was a very tasty, melting in your mouth piece of sea bass on a risotto bed with white sauce , two grilled tiger prawns tails wrapped in glass noodles with an Asian style sauce and a filet of trout on a bed of vegetables. The fish and the prawns were succulent, juicy and the garnish for the fish was just right.|
And for a Grand Finale: Baba au Rhum (with plenty of rum coming with it). When I phoned to book a table, I mentioned that it was my husband’s birthday. It was a very pleasant surprise, when the waitress delivered Peter’s dessert with a couple of lit candles. The Baba was fab! Probably it was one of the chef’s specialties. It went as we say in Russia “with a Hooray!”
Of course I sang “Happy birthday to you” to the amusement of the other diners!
My dessert was a hot chocolate soufflé. The French are very proud of their chocolate and what they do with it and I was very excited about my chocolate dessert. The soufflé came with a chocolate cone filled with something that tasted like a chocolate butter and was very heavy and too sweet to eat. The top half of the soufflé itself was hot and the bottom half cold. My heart sank – what a disappointment!
Soufflé chocolat chaud” – it looked fabulous when it arrived. Shame it did not taste up to presentation.
And here we have the same restaurant the same chef, two different menus: one – the food of delight and the other – very average, overpriced and disappointing.
|To finish on a positive note: the presentation of all of the dishes was original and the staff is very friendly, attentive and not intrusive. We were the last to finish and the restaurant was closed, but no one was hurrying us to leave by glancing obviously our way to check, if we had finished: we were left alone and we were given privacy and as much time as we wanted. In addition, we were allowed to leave our car in the restaurant’s car park while we took a walk around the town.The town was hot, sunny and crowdied. We walked around winding streets of the Brive centre looking at the shop windows and watching people enjoying the beautiful day out. Kids were running around just relaxed, happy and their giggles and laughter wer waking up the town still sleepy after a long and harsh winter. Spring was in the air and we enjoyed every second of it!|