Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RESTAURANT LA CAVE, LA CAUNETTE - A REVIEW

There are myriads of restaurants with diverse and interesting menus to choose from here in the south of France. Every would-be celebrity chef on the road to fame and a Michelin star has a kitchen pumping out his or her specialty. How to choose wisely? Lunch specials are the way to go. You get great value for your Euro and a definite feel for the skills of the folks behind the swinging doors. One spot we've recently visited for such a taste test is the Restaurant La Cave in La Caunette.

On the road to the beautiful tourist destination that is the town of Minerve, La Caunette is itself perched precariously on a hillside. Reached by way of a tall and narrow bridge, near the entrance to the village there's a small church with an oddly new-feeling cemetery behind it overlooking the gorge. The town of about 350 souls boasts several wine producers offering tastings. And across from the mairie (town hall), in a building that one would suppose had been a winery (cave) in a previous life, sits the Restaurant La Cave.

We first tried lunching at La Cave on a Wednesday. A group was waiting to be served on the small terrace as we approached. We tried the door but it was locked. The front of the double-sided chalkboard with the menu said Ouvert (Open), but the backside advised that the restaurant was closed for dinner on Tuesday and all day Wednesday. We so informed the French folks who were waiting and went on over to Minerve and La Table des Troubadours (See previous post for my review. You don't want to be bothered? It's passable. Just passable.) 

On our return to La Caunette, with a different companion, we chose to dine inside. Surprisingly modern furnishings contrasted with the obviously ancient but well re-pointed stone interior. And I can do without the oddly shaped plates. But why quibble? It all seems to fit together somehow. And it's all about the food.

For a reasonable fixed price (15,50 Euros apiece) we had a starter, a main, a dessert, wine, and coffee. No ups. The tab came to 46,50 Euros for three. Amazing. That never happens.

For starters we chose from either a piping hot, fall-inspired root veggie soup or vegetables of the season (tomato, cucumber, eggplant, and onion) sliced thin, oiled, and topped with a few anchovy filets. The choices for the main were a steamy bowl of cassoulet or three plump sardines escabeche-style. All were properly spiced, freshly prepared, and well-presented. For dessert? Creme brulee or chocolate/saffron fondant or a banana torte. Just fine. The service was well-paced and attentive without being intrusive. 

We shall return and try a dinner on a special night. Recommended.

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