RETURNED FEBRUARY, 2017. THIS INITIAL REVIEW FEBRUARY, 2015. SEE EDIT AT END.
I live in the little French town of Quarante. Quarante also happens to be the French word for the number 40. Is it any wonder that the local sports bar/cafe is called Bar Le 40?
Let's be honest. Bar Le 40 is a local joint with no ambiance whatsoever, inside or out. Sitting on a busy intersection with cars whizzing by all day, you are protected from even a minimal view of that traffic by cars parked at the curb, obstructing your view (such as it is) because the sidewalk is only a few feet wide. Except for a few posters, the interior hasn't been redecorated since the town was liberated...in 1918. But as the only place in town where you can sit down at a table and be served a meal, nothing really matters as long as the food is edible. On a recent Friday, lunching with a couple of my neighbors while Cathey was out of town, the food was edible. Not great, but not bad and worth the price.
The three of us each chose the menu of the day for 12 Euros, add a Euro for a liter of house wine. For starters, choice of salad with a wedge of a cheese tart or a simple plate of charcuterie. For the main, fish filet or biftek with a side of either frites or spinach. Several dessert choices including an apple tart and ice cream, but we all chose the caramelized flan. As I said, all edible. I think the beef was a better choice than the fish, but that's me. And the spinach looked a bit limp, but I chose the frites...also a bit limp. The flan was just fine. All in all, we filled up and didn't feel cheated.
They say that the house confit de canard is a good choice for dinner. I'll give it a try. Yes, I will be back. After all, it's the only place in town where you can sit down at a table and be served a meal.
EDIT: There's been a change in ownership and in the kitchen. If I understand correctly, the new chef is the son of a previous one. There's been a dash of paint here and there and I'm told that the bathroom is now up to handicap standards. I generally do not frequent the restrooms in bars. I'm funny that way.
I would rate the new lunch menu as about 10% better than the previous. The starters continue to be unexceptional - the charcuterie pedestrian and the salad, while reasonably portioned, lacked the tangy balsamic dressing that regulars came to expect. The major change was the main plate. The new formula is just that bit more adventurous. Oh, there's still that chewy beef that we've come to expect but at least the fries are cut from whole potatoes and not reconstituted. But the second choice has upped the game - one day parmentier of beef, one day duck hearts, one day beef tongue. Little change in the desserts. So the possibility of a potentially interesting surprise exists. Add a euro to the formula and without wine included as previous and it's almost a wash.
But I repeat. It's in the village an easy saunter away. It's edible. And it's not overpriced. It'll do.