Skip to main content

CAFE DU MIDI - BIZE MINERVOIS - A REVIEW

You can't go home again. Well, in this case it might be more accurate to say that you can't always get back to where you once were even if you go back to the same place. Catch my drift? Too much drift?

On a luscious fall day in 2004, my wife Cathey, her sister Liz, and I happened across a restaurant in the little village of Bize Minervois. It's a pretty little village with the river La Cesse running alongside, not far from the regional olive cooperative with its neat gift shop, and on the back road from here to there if you're tired of the highway. We're in and around Bize quite often. But we've never returned to that little restaurant just inside the Bize archway until this weekend. We remember the restaurant well, though we've lost the name, because of a picture that Liz took of Cathey and I as we sat down to eat, a picture of a younger, happy, and satisfied couple that was printed out, framed, and given prominent play in my office at work and also served as my avatar on several websites in the decade since it was taken. The meal was as memorable as the picture. The girls shared a huge salad plate with a dozen or more ingredients including fresh veggies of the region and the season, pickles, and a hunk of country pate. I had rabbit, my first in France, stewed to perfection and served in a funky terracotta bowl. No ambiance, though. Not a lick. Just good French country cooking.

Today's Cafe du Midi is a different sort of place. Modern brown and red fabrics in place of the white linen. Modern, slightly awkward chairs. Modern lighting. Modern. That's okay. Modern is okay. But the menu was not okay. Our choice for a main dish was either hamburger or steak. Granted that it was a winter weekend. Granted we arrived just before a party of about twenty that had booked beforehand. Granted that it was the fixed price special. Even so, you shouldn't have to choose between cow and cow.

I will say that the presentation was interesting. Check out the picture. But to Cathey, the idea that hot and cold courses were served at the same time meant that by the time that you got to the last hot course, it wasn't hot any more.

So...

The sauteed veggies atop a square of puff pastry with a mild sauce was OK. The gazpacho with bits of bacon would have been interesting if we didn't get the feeling that the tomatoes came out of a tin. The steak was French biftek with a sauce and a dash of onions. The fries - chilling down while we worked on the veggies and the gazpacho - were probably reconstituted. The pineapple was fresh and the presentation novel. The goat cheese was good and the cheddar was French cheddar. (The French don't get cheddar.) Good baguette.

With a demi of wine, 32 Euros. Cathey has spoken. There are too many kitchens to sample in the region to come back to the Cafe du Midi any time soon.

Read more of my reviews HERE.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAND CAFE OCCITAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

  We made our way to a new restaurant the other day, up toward the hills past La Liviniere in the small town of Felines-Minervois. None of our party had been there before, but a friend had visited and said that she'd enjoyed it. She's a vegetarian. First clue. Now don't get me wrong. I have no gripe with those who choose to go meatless. I understand the environmental concerns and I understand the horrors of factory farming. But I also understand that form follows function in the design of tools, in the design of appliances, and in the design of human teeth. Our incisors and canines did not develop over the course of hundreds of thousands of years to rend the flesh of a fresh-caught broccoli. We are omnivores by design, Darwinian design. And I enjoy eating omni. Enough preamble... I never went inside the Grand Cafe Occitan. A young lady who would be our server met us at the front door of the nicely pointed old stone house, leading us to a pebble-covered courtyard on the side

Kreuz Market vs. Smitty’s Market: Texas Barbecue in Lockhart

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I didn’t taste Texas barbecue until I was twenty-two years old. What the hell do I know about barbecue? And what could I add to the millions of words that have been written on the subject? Well, I know a bit about food. I’ve managed to check out a few of the finer joints in Texas – Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas, Joe Cotton’s in Robstown before the fire, the dear departed Williams Smokehouse in Houston, and the incomparable New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville . So I can speak from a reasonably wide experience. This will not be a comprehensive discussion of the relative merits of Texas barbecue as opposed to the fare available in places like Memphis or the Carolinas. It’s simply a take on our recent visits to Lockhart and the relative merits of Smitty’s versus Kreuz from our point of view. I’ll get all over academic in a later post. On our way out to the ranch in Crystal City, we stopped at Smitty’s. You have to look

RESTAURANT TEN, UZES: RESTAURANT REVIEW

Ten sits just off the market square in Uzes, one of the prettiest villages in southern France. The newly renovated space is airy and comfortable with tables of sufficient size and sufficiently spaced to provide for a pleasant dining experience. Service was cheerful, fully bilingual, and attentive without being overbearing. The food presented well to both eye and tongue. And the rate of approximately 30 € per person for a party of five included starters, mains, a dessert or two, two bottles of local wine, and coffees at the finish. Reasonable if not cheap eats.  So why am I hesitant to give an unqualified thumbs up?  It took me a while to figure it out. Uzes is a quintessentially French village in a quintessentially French region of southern France. There are those who will say that the Languedoc is just as beautiful but less crowded and less expensive than its eastern neighbors. I know. I'm one of those people. But the fact remains that for many people, villages like Uzes are t