Monday, March 14, 2016

LE POURQUOI PAS, CAPESTANG - RESTAURANT REVIEW

Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.
                                                              ~ Yogi Berra 

You find a new restaurant. Everything is perfect - the setting, the ambience, the service, the food. You want to keep it to yourself. You know that if your new favorite generates the latest buzz, it will lose some of its charm. Maybe you won't be able to get a last minute reservation. Maybe the idiot at the next table wearing an earbud will start talking too loudly into the ether. And your perfect place won't be perfect any more.

Please. Don't visit Le Pourquoi Pas.

On the other hand, many more restaurants fail than succeed. In the States, it's estimated that 80% of restaurants close after less than one year. Some that fail deserve a better fate, deserve to become staples of the local cuisine scene. Le Pourquoi Pas deserves to survive and thrive.

Please. Visit Le Pourquoi Pas.

Get it? I'm conflicted. Cathey and I already love this place. After just one visit, we know that we'll be back again often, introducing this charming restaurant right up against the Canal du Midi to friends and family. Because we want Le Pourquoi Pas to succeed. And we have a feeling that it will succeed. But on its own terms - as a friendly, easy going, out of the way meeting place for small groups of friends who enjoy good food lovingly prepared from the freshest, best available local ingredients.

I mean it when I say that Le Pourquoi Pas is out of the way. You follow signs tacked to trees through the vineyards that lie between Capestang and Quarante, ending up on a dirt track along the canal. Your Belgian host Yves Urbain has taken a ramshackle canal house left to the elements and created a comfortable blend of stonework walls, tile floors, and modern amenities. Patios are in the making...when he recharges his energy. And then there's a kitchen garden to institute. But for now, let's talk about the food.

We chose from the tapas menu. You can choose individually or in groups of four, six, or nine. Cathey and I opted for four choices apiece. In truth, the portions were sized so that an array of six would have been sufficient for the two of us to share. Between us, we had a smooth, mild boudin; a pate fin de campagne equally smooth and delicious; a tasty saucisse sech au Roquefort; anchovies both salted and in vinegar; and petit gris a la persillade (snails in a parsley sauce infused with garlic). The charcuterie comes from the town of La Salvetat in the hills to the north, the anchovies from the lovely coastal town of Colliure. Yves' care in the selection paid off. Each morsel represented the best of its kind. And the one example of Yves own work, the sauce for the snails, was impeccable. The next visit, we'll order the plat du jour to fully test Yves' kitchen skills. I have no doubt that he'll pass.

Local olives and chunks of petrissane (the bread from our very own bakery in Quarante that Cathey and I purchase several times each week) accompanied the tapas. And we had plenty of choices for our wine, including the local pink that we ourselves serve to favored guests.

I often say that the French know chocolate. Of course, so do Belgians. The chocolate cream (Not mousse. No eggs.) topped with berries and lightly whipped cream was simply heaven. And Yves insisted that I taste his apple tart with cranberries. Not chocolate, but well executed just the same.

With coffee for me at the finish, the tab exceeded 50 euros. No, not cheap. But we could have done with the less expensive tapas choice and we spent the better part of three hours in a tranquil, comfortable, off the beaten track setting with the best of the terroir in front of us, a congenial host seeing to our every need, and that chocolate cream. An afternoon well worth the price.

Reserve early. Reserve often.

All of my restaurant reviews appear HERE.





4 comments:

  1. Hi Ira and Cathey,
    great to read your review and to know that Le Pourquoi Pas is open for business once again. I have fond memories of lunches and dinners when it was run by its previous owners, who created the restaurant from a roof-less shell, and who found that charming name! I'll be trying it out before too long, and I hope that Yves succeeds as much as the previous owners did.

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  2. From what I understand, Yves found the place in a similar difficult state - ivy growing through broken windows and such. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

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  3. Ira! Either your writing is getting better, or you keep going to better and better restaurants. Love your posts brother. Enjoy the food. I must be a bad person 'cos I'm jealous X

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    1. Thanks for your support, George. You know, the French are really into their food and it's hard to find a really bad restaurant. So my reviews tend to reflect a certain consistency. But every once in a while, one grabs you. This one grabbed me.

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