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LE CHAT QUI PECHE (THE CAT THAT FISHES), ARGELIERS: RESTAURANT REVIEW

You would think that after over five years of searching for restaurants serving good food at reasonable prices, I would have made my way to Le Chat Qui Peche before now. After all, it's only about ten minutes from our house, in a beautiful spot along the Canal du Midi. But it took a friend to suggest that we would like the place. So we went. And we did.

Port-Argeliers isn't much a port, just a spot along the Canal du Midi that boats use as a stopping place. Like a town that might be described as just a wide spot in the road, there hardly seems to be a reason for it to exist other than the fact that it does. So Le Chat Qui Peche, at the foot of a narrow but driveable bridge over the canal, commands a view of the canal that can't reasonably be described as bustling and scenery that might best be described as bucolic.

We were among the first to arrive on a lazy summer day, breezy so we chose an outdoor table with less of a view but sheltered. Our server practiced his English while we practiced our French. While we sipped rosé, he brought over a slate and explained the menu and the prices - some interesting choices that did require explanation, 19€ for a start and a main, 24€ to add dessert.

Cathey started with carpaccio, filling the plate, fresh and sweet and colorful. Liz's salad with thin slices of smoked duck breast was also fresh, tasty and a full portion. Nicola and I tried different twists on the same dish. Small ceramic pots with a radius of a fried egg came filled with a cheesy cream sauce, croutons, and bits of chorizo in my case, veggies instead of chorizo for Nicola. There may have been a name for the dish but I don't remember it. In any event, look at the picture. The surprise was that the egg yolk was not even warm while the filling that it covered was piping hot, an indication that the egg was precooked and plopped on top, I suppose. But an interesting and enjoyable dish nonetheless.

My knife-chopped tartare de boeuf with bits of shaved cheese and the occasional pine nut was, like the carpaccio, nice, sweet beef. Cathey had the catch of the day, back of cod. She cleaned her plate. Nicola and Liz both ordered a Charolais rib steak sangnant (rare), cooked to order but, as is the case with much French beefsteak, cut a bit thin for our taste. And, again typical, just a bit chewy. Not the fault of the chef, the fault of French beef. But that's my common, constant complaint. Let's just say that the serving was above average for French beef.
 
We passed on dessert...well...I had two scoops of fine chocolate ice cream.

With coffees and two carafes of rosé, the tab came to just over 25€ per person. A pleasant way to spend two and a half hours with friends and family on a lazy summer day. Recommended.

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