Oh, there are those who will quibble. This plate had too many flavors. That plate was not properly seasoned. Our server wasn't cheerful. Phooey! If you are looking for something to complain about, you will find something to complain about. If you are that sort of person, then don't go. Stay home. Eat a sandwich in front of the television.
Enough of that.
The driveway leading to the Auberge de Madale is just west of Poujol-sur-Orb off the road to Orlagues. Not well marked. Not well paved. Madale closes after lunch on Sunday and doesn't reopen until lunch on Wednesday. Lunch at noon. Dinner at 20h00. One seating for each meal. Reservations only. (Seriously. RESERVATIONS ONLY.) Cash or check, no plastic. Set menu that changes every two weeks. If you don't like surprises, it's posted on the website. You sit down, you eat what's put in front of you, you drink the house wine, and three hours after you began you are presented with the bill. And the bill is 32 euros per person inclusive of wine and coffee and maybe an aperitif and/or a digestif. Each time, every time. I've heard that special dietary restrictions will be honored. Arrangements must be made beforehand.
If this sounds a bit regimented, I suppose that it is. But it works for us. The food is superb in presentation and execution. Each time. Superb. Every time. The wine is quaffable if not remarkable, from a local vigneron so it doesn't double the cost of the meal as is so often the case. Knowing exactly the number of covers reduces waste to the bare minimum, also contributing to the more than reasonable price. And if you take the time to get to know chef/owner Stephane as he visits your table after your meal, you realize that his formula allows him to play with textures and tastes in a way that's designed both to keep his creative juices flowing and to keep you surprised and amazed. (Raspberries and cherry tomatoes really do complement each other when brought to the mouth together. Who knew?)
There's no sense in discussing in detail each dish that's pictured below. The menu will change by the time that you read this. (In fact, vacation begins 17 September and runs for a month.) Quick notes in the captions will suffice. For more info, visit the website of the Auberge de Madale HERE. For more of my restaurant reviews, you can bring up that page on my blog HERE.
Did I mention? Just go.
|Simple, tasty starts. Pickled beet and cured ham. Spread the sun dried tomato puree on the crispy chips standing in that rock||.|
|Did I mention that the raspberries and tomatoes...? And straw mushrooms wrapped in cheese and gaspacho...|
|You can just see the oyster leaf covering the green curry at the top.|
|The fishiest fish dish that I have ever eaten. Perfectly cooked cod. The crabs for the sauce died nobly.|
|The lemon cream was divine. Had you heard of those little hand grenades of citrus called lemon caviar?|