Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Travelin' Tuesday~ Restaurant Jardin des Sens

(This post is a replay of one written for another site with a few alterations.)
Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen

On a visit to Paris a couple of years ago, my brother-in-law, Nicolas (pronounced: Neek-o-la) decided to take us to lunch--- in Montpellier! With the new TGV fast trains in France, one can now easily leave Paris in the morning and be seated at a restaurant in the South of France by lunchtime. What used to be a full day's drive doing France's typical speed limit of 130 km per hour (around 80 mph-though they usually go beyond that!) among speed-hungry and passionate Latin drivers can now be enjoyed in temperature-controlled seating with a newspaper and a decent nap.

We made our way into Montpellier and, upon finding the restaurant by cab, were ushered into a glassed room and seated looking out on a bamboo-walled garden flowing with lavender and greenery galore, textured with rock and stonework patterns. The dining room, a sea of foam-white tablecloths and sparkling glassware, held a subtle beauty with a simplistic feng shui of 'calm'.

The sommelier helped select the wines for each course and we were off~ starting with several amuse bouches including a delicate gazpacho of mussels and saffron followed by an oyster-filled pastry shell bubbly in its own froth, then a fondant of cucumber with raw clams and citrus granite.

Next came a salad of wild country greens, cocos nicois and almonds in a tomato aspic followed by a troncon of grilled lobster with a turnip, citrus-honey and grapefruit marinade served in a Banyuls vinaigrette.

Next, Autour de Potimarron: an emulsion with confit and chip, mushroom and sauce with huile d'olive and sel de mer.
After this came my brother-in-law's favorite: L'escalope de foie gras with polenta. I personally prefer my foie gras unseared but this sends Nicolas' eyes back in his head, lashes fluttering, in full gourmand pleasure-mode.

This was followed by a filet of grilled sole on a bed of ravioli with celeri, herbs and mushrooms in a butter sauce with parfum de truffes followed by a grapefruit sorbet mixed with Suze to cleanse the pallet before the next course.

And the last meat course came as a noix de chevreuil of roasted lamb with a puree of carotte and cumin, galettes of potato with parmesan and a jus facon poivrade.

The cheese course was a gazillion different options from the various regions of France.

...my favorites always being of the chevre variety.

The desserts were an assortment which, luckily, we shared.

While the price was less than heavenly, it made Nicolas happy to have the experience (pre-recession) and it made us happy to fulfill his fantasy of jetting down to the South of France to have lunch just for the day. Needless to say, some serious napping took place on the TGV ride back to Paris. And while it may be tres longtemps before we get to fulfill another fantasy comme ca, we are thankful to Nicolas for giving us such a memory as this one!


  1. Where do I sign up for a brother-in-law like yours? Wow. What a wonderful meal you enjoyed. I can almost taste it.

  2. Wow. What a dreamy afternoon. Something to treasure.

  3. Relyn~ He's pretty special...and VERY French! We adore him (and his family)!

    Kwana~ It truly was Dreamy! And I'm so glad I got all these photos (tho didn't get one of the restaurant itself outside the building). Thanks for coming by!

  4. mmmm... the meal looks wonderful and it's nearly lunchtime here in London so all the pictures are making me hungry...

  5. Hi Polly~ How's the weather in London?!

  6. Kirsten....you're killing me here. Food like this and my fave Morricone piece playing in the background. This is torture of the sublime kind ;-)

  7. Now that is a good train trip...Happy weekend, xv.

  8. It must have been an exquisite lunch. I never even thought of doing a day trip like that - bon idee!

  9. Yummmm.... it's breakfast time for me...this looks so delicious! What a perfectly perfect day you had! Thanks for coming over and visiting me! Have a blissful weekend~

  10. oiasantorini~ And you happen to be on my favorite island in Greece so we're even! Thanks for your comment!

    Vicki~ It truly was and happy weekend to you as well!

    Ingrid~ Another Frenchman wanted us to take a day trip down to Marseille just for their Bouillabaisse. Must be a French thing to go down to the South for the day!!

    FrenchBlue~ It was a perfect day! And a blissful weekend to you! Thanks for coming by!

  11. Love the food pictures, my mouth is watering! My brother in laws family is in Montpellier, how funny! I just watched "Bottle Shock" last night, really made me miss France but then it doesn't take much....

  12. Hi Nathalie~ Thanks for your comment and doesn't take much for me either! Haven't seen "Bottle Shock"- will have to look for that. Thanks for coming by!

  13. Ohhh how glam, going to Montpellier for lunch. It is such a wonderful town and your lunch certainly looks worth the ride. Thanks Carla x

  14. Hi Carla~ It was definitely worth the ride! Welcome home from your glorious-looking trip!

  15. How in the world did I miss this post??????????????

    Fabulous- delectably mouth watering!

    C’est la vrai fĂȘte des sens:)

  16. Merci Ms. Lucy~
    Back from vacation and happy to find your comment!

  17. I would LOVE to sample EVERYTHING s'il vous plait!!!

  18. Fifi Flowers~ That's one thing I love about this place. Every course is tiny so you don't hurt yourself and can go on enjoying for hours!


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