This was our third visit to Castelnaudary and Cathey had already given a hearty thumbs up to our previous two choices for cassoulet. Chez David, however, outstripped them both. Were it not for the darn techno-pop music in the background, perfection was in sight.
Chez David is on a side street with an unassuming exterior sporting a posted menu that is brief, less comprehensive than a tonier place a few doors down. The interior is a study in contrasts. On the one hand you'll see natural stone walls, comfy and well-spaced tables and chairs, and standard issue plates and utensils that don't appear to have been designed by Dali. On the other hand, the art on display is mostly non-representational, the music is techno-pop (though not overly loud), and the back dining room appears to feature purple lighting.
But it's all about the food. Well, mostly...
The girls opted for the Menu Cassoulet. They started with a green salad with a balsamic dressing and a dash of carrot. The feature, of course, was the cassoulet. Served for two piping hot in the traditional earthenware dish, the cassoulet had a fine crust; plenty of sausage, pork, and duck; and the creamiest, best seasoned beans that Cathey had yet encountered. Just heavenly.
I opted for the special of the day. I began with a plate of small, plump mussels with a sauce of olive oil, much garlic, chives, and white wine. Very tasty. My guinea fowl came with a red wine and onion reduction to which a bit of liver was introduced, making the sauce thicker and heftier than the average fowl sauce, suitable for guinea fowl.
Desserts included a shallow dish of Creme Catalan, a hot apple crumble, and my two scoops of chocolate ice cream. All just fine.
Our waiter had better than passing English and was able to help us with questions about the proper beans for a cassoulet and the reduction on the guinea fowl. And the chef (David?) came out to greet each diner. Very nice. With a liter of house rose and coffee for two at the finish, the tab came to just under 90 euros.
When we are obliged to demonstrate the art of Castelnaudary cassoulet to the next set of visitors, we'll visit Chez David.