Monday, October 30, 2017

LE BIBENT, TOULOUSE: RESTAURANT REVIEW

How much is too much?

We enjoy our visits to Toulouse. The airport is well connected to local and international destinations making it a frequent port of entry for family and friends coming to visit us in the south of France. When folks have an early flight out, it makes sense to spend the previous night or two in town, sight-seeing and shopping in the center of the pedestrian-friendly Pink City - named for the distinctive color of the stone that has been used to construct many of its buildings.

On a recent visit, we stayed in an Airbnb in the very center of town just a couple of blocks from the  spacious Place du Capitole overlooked by City Hall. So it made sense that, when we asked our host for a good place for dinner in the neighborhood, he recommended Le Bibent. A fine French brasserie, he said. He even offered to make the reservation. We accepted.

After we unpacked, freshened up, and managed to input the insanely long WiFi key into our tablets/phones, we checked out Le Bibent's website HERE. Interesting. We would clearly be spending 50 or more apiece. That's at the top end of our range. We might have chosen differently had we been left to our own devices. But there we were. Why not? Let's see what 50€ buys in Toulouse. 

Because we reserved late in the afternoon for the same night, we had to accept outdoor seating. That's a shame. The Belle Epoque interior decor is truly stunning. VERY French. But the night was pleasantly warm, the seating comfortable, and the constant flow of humanity - at a reasonable distance - provided an engaging floor show. High tech heaters helped to maintain the temperature as the evening progressed and also accounted for the pink tint in the accompanying photos.

Connie and I started with a perfect plate of foie gras. The portion was properly sized and totally satisfying, the bread was toasted just to my taste, and the red fruit confiture delightful. Cathey had cream of artichoke soup. Unimaginable for me. Just right for her. For our mains, I had slices of roasted veal. Connie had slow-roasted pork on a bed of lentils. And Cathey had Coquilles St Jacques. The one phrase that described each dish was Properly Done. The veal was roasted to my order, the reduction both simple and tasty. Both Connie and Cathey praised the freshness and taste of their choices. And there were no odd-shaped plates, no squirts and dots from squeeze bottles. Just well-prepared, simply presented food.

Desserts followed the pattern. Full-on tasty. Not overwhelming. Just right.  Even my profiteroles were understated compared to some. And the little pitcher of chocolate sauce? My, my...

A word about our maitre-d, a young woman of exceptional talent. She knew every order at every table and directed the servers unerringly when the food arrived. She spoke perfect English to the English speakers at a nearby table but, since we spoke to her in French, she replied in kind. That was refreshing. She also recommended our wines and each recommendation was spot on. She is one of the good ones. 

As expected, the tab exceeded 150€. Was that too much? Some might have thought so. For us, though a bit steep, the fact remains that we had an excellent dining experience served by a knowledgeable and professional staff in a congenial setting that included perfectly prepared yet unpretentious, thoroughly French cuisine. Worth the price. Guide Michelin agrees and has given Le Bibent a Bib Gourmand, meaning that the restaurant provides good quality for value.

For more of my restaurant reviews, check HERE. And again, sorry about the quality of the pics.

Cream of Artichoke

Coquilles St Jacques

Pork and Lentils
Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce


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