When Cathey suggested that we have lunch out on Sunday and that we stick close by, Le Terminus immediately came to mind. It's just down the road, we've eaten there on several occasions, and we've always enjoyed it. So I was surprised to find that I'd never fully reviewed Le Terminus as I searched through my blog. True, it appeared on a couple of lists of restaurants worth a visit. But a formal review? Nope. Couldn't find one. So here goes.
Located in the old train station between the towns of Quarante and Cruzy, the new young owners have created a thriving, bustling dining experience. In the summer, there are tapas nights with music. Special meals are featured on major holidays, even for take-out. The 16 euro lunch menu is always interesting. So Le Terminus is a local hotspot. On the Sunday that we arrived, the shabby-chic main dining room was fully packed. (And a bit noisy...) And the 16 euro weekday formula menu had morphed into a 30 euro menu. But one expects paying a premium for quality weekend dining.
I was a bit surprised at the extent of that premium, but more on that later.
A small dish of lucques, local olives fresh off the tree, greeted us at the table. No amusée bouche was forthcoming. We chose from the aforementioned 30 euro menu. Cathey started with the rouget (red mullet). Properly (barely) cooked, the two little filets came on a bit of greens with a slice of grainy toast,\ with red pepper tapenade and a chunk of chèvre de Combebelle (the especially fine local goat cheese) underneath. Just perfect. I chose an off menu recommendation from the server, an assortment of cured hams. Tasty, enough for two, and the cause of the aforementioned premium. (Wait for it...)
We both chose the Charolais beef tartare for our main, topped with shaved Parmesan, light greens, and bits of dark toasted olive crumble. You either like tartare or you don't. We do. To be special, the tartare has to be fresh, really fresh, and naturally sweet. It was. We were both quite happy.
I chose a chocolate confection with a caramelized crust at the bottom for dessert. (See the pic.) I've said it before. The French know chocolate. Scrumdiddlyumptious. Cathey's baba was the one disappointment. For us, a baba is about the sponge and the rum. This baba was confined to a cutesy Mason jar and covered in a thick and unnecessary layer of chantilly. It's considered a specialty of the house and, from the number of servings that came out of the kitchen, it's a customer favorite. Had she known, however, Cathey would definitely have tried something different. Not a total loss, mind you. Just not Cathey's idea of a baba.
With a bottle of Mas de Cynanque rose (local, clean, bio, at 13%) and a bottle of still water, the total bill came to 92,65 euros. That's about 12 euros more than I expected. Why? Apparently, my choice of the cured hams at the start meant that I was off the formula and ordering a la carte. Maybe my French wasn't good enough to understand that would be the case when the server announced the choices. But it was a surprise and frankly, if I had realized that would be the case, I might have ordered differently.
Water under the bridge. A fine meal, prepared well, presented well, served well. We'll be back...and be more careful when ordering off menu and choosing desserts.