GOUTS et COULEURS, Rodez.
We started with aperitifs at an outside table so that we could have a cigarette. These were served with a couple of crisps each. One was in the shape of a madaleine cake, chocolate in colour with a crisp shell and a softer centre. I’ve no idea at all what it was, but it tasted very nice with a slight fish flavour. The other was a melt in your mouth tiny square flavoured with cheese. I thought that these were the amuse bouches referred to on the menu, and I would have been disappointed if they had been, but they were not.
Taking time enjoying out aperitifs gave us time to study the menu. Our rather limited French enabled us to identify some of the main ingredients but we struggled with the complexities of the details of many dishes. This did not matter as the menus were translated for us as we ordered, giving us the opportunity to discuss the contents of each dish in more detail before making a decision.
Three fixed price menus were on offer, at 36, 50 and 70 Euros. The latter being a tasting menu of many small dishes, but only available for the whole table. We settled for the 50 Euro menu.
We then went into the restaurant proper. The decor was simple and quite plain, tasteful but nothing much to distract from the food. The table was laid immaculately and we were offered a choice of table.
The first of the amuse bouches arrived – a rectangular wooden platter with an indentation to contain a miniature razor clam shell. The bottom shell contained the clam meat with a delicate crisp topping with the other half of the shell placed on top. Amusingly, a piece of edible paper projected out of the top of the clam shell, which to me imitated the clam in its natural habitat. It was actually intended as a visual pun on a laguiole knife, which are locally manufactured in the region. The paper was actually quite tasty.
A mushroom cafe crème followed. This was a soup in miniature, served in a shot glass, and consisting of an intense mushroom flavoured crème, topped with whipped cream.
The first of the substantial courses arrived next. A glass bowl with small pieces of langoustine, mackerel, a slice of fish sausage and ribbons of seaweed in a clear liquid were served and filled at the table with more liquid. It was a broth of exquisite flavour, reminiscent of a Japanese miso, but of an intensity that defied belief. I soaked up every last drop with some of the bread, crisp crust with a soft open texture, provided throughout the meal.
Then out came the lobster course, a small tail piece cooked and served in half of its original shell. It was flavoured with a single leaf and flower of wild garlic, and proved to be another impressive dish. There was an alternative dish of veal for this course, but none of us selected that.
For the main course I had chosen monkfish. One of my dining companions had the lamb. Both were highly impressive and brilliantly executed. My companion drew the line at eating the lamb’s brain served on a potato fondant, but her partner helped out with that and said it was very good. Another accompaniment was a small turnip cut in half with a piece of lamb’s liver hidden inside. She really enjoyed that. The rest of the dish she thought was remarkable. My monkfish was amongst the best dishes I have ever eaten. Well cooked firm pieces of fish served with tiny turnips and a creamy sauce with broccoli to the side, the rim of the dish sprinkled with a powder of just the right chilli heat. At first I was unsure of the texture of the powder as it looked a little like sawdust, but eaten with the fish, it transformed the whole dish into a taste experience that complimented the fish perfectly.
The cheese course threw away the concept of the traditional cheeseboard with a selection of cheeses, and instead provided three cheese based dishes. Only one was uncooked – the sheep’s milk cheese sliced so thinly that it resembled the petals of a flower and came with a red puree which complimented it nicely. The blue cheese course took the form of a crème caramel with a crisp hot crust. This was divine. The other cheese course was a small piece of toasted bread, very crispy, half covered in a prune comfit. It was accompanied by a small metal tube containing goat’s cheese that we had great fun squeezing onto the toast. The combination of the cheese and prune with the dry, crisp toast worked very well, and provided lots of amusement.
For dessert I had chosen the caramelised chicory with caramelised orange and a caramel ice cream served with a slice of incredibly thin ultra brittle gingerbread. We had been warned when choosing our courses that the chicory was bitter. It was. But eaten with the orange it transformed into a bitter sweet taste sensation. The caramel and gingerbread helped too. One of my companions had the pear belle honour, which had been transformed from the traditional French classic dessert into one that looked like the traditional classic, but was essentially reinvented. The base was of a thin meringue, the top a lid of half a sphere of thin white chocolate, inside these two halves were hidden pieces of poached pear and a pear sorbet. A rich, dark warm chocolate sauce was poured over at the table. My other dining companion would have chosen that dish next time rather than the chicory, which he thought bitter. I would order the chicory again.
I finished with an espresso of extremely strong Vietnamese coffee. We were all given a small pot of bitter sweet chocolate mousse. Again it was exquisite.
The service was excellent with the first three courses arriving quickly after each other, the main courses served slightly more leisurely, which worked well. Bread was constantly topped up, which was useful for getting the last drops of each dish off the plate. It was all too good to waste. The waiters were attentive to every detail, but remained unobtrusive.
The wine list was extensive and included local regional wines at very affordable prices, as well as better known classics.
All in all I cannot find anything at all to criticise, however hard I try. Would I go back again? Just try and stop me!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.