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BAR LE 40: RESTAURANT UPDATE

Quarante has a takeout pizza joint, an upscale-wannabe restaurant just outside of town, and the Bar Le 40.

Tito's Pizza is OK. It offers thin-crust French pizza, if you like that sort of thing - or can at least get used to it. Christophe, the owner, also runs the local wine co-op. (Why is Christophe's place called Tito's? I've never asked.) Because it's the grape harvest now, Christophe is busy day and night. Tito's is closed. Pizza will have to wait for a few weeks.

The Terminus, as you might surmise if you have a bit of French, is in the old train station just outside of town. The owners have spent the past few years 'upgrading' the menu to the point that they have priced themselves out of our rotation.

And then there's the Bar Le 40, which most of us just call Bar 40 because who needs the extra syllable?

The management of Bar 40 has changed hands several times since we moved here more than seven years ago. The latest owner, Alex, is the son of a previous owner who has opened a restaurant in a neighboring town. Alex is a young guy, a rugby player, hooked into the local scene and well-liked by all. More importantly, he has upgraded the menu while keeping the price low. Lunch is the only meal that he serves, although he does do bar-appropriate tapas in the evening and takeout burgers on weekends. (Really fine takeout burgers, by the way.) 

Given the uptick in quality, we have taken to checking out the week's menu that Alex posts on Facebook and on a slate in front of the door on Monday mornings. This week, we took special note of the slow-roasted leg of lamb for lunch on Thursday. If you have read my scribbles, you know that I am of the opinion that lamb in France tastes the way that lamb is supposed to taste. If you like lamb, and I like lamb, you will love the lamb in France. I love the lamb in France. We booked for lunch on Thursday.

We began with a choice of starters, fresh melon wrapped with serrano ham or a mixed salad topped with little balls of deep-fried bleu cheese. Both were full plates, well presented, with fresh ingredients and appropriate dressings. The lamb that followed was superb. The French use a word that was fully appropriate in this case - impeccable. The thick slice of meat was roasted to perfection, soft but still firm, smothered in its own reduced juices. Some of us chose the French beans for the side, some had frites - fries. For dessert, a little lemon tart, more like a cookie, with a bit of salty caramel sauce. (One of us chose two scoops of ice cream instead.) The five of us finished a liter of wine between us and three of us had coffee at the finish.

Here's the kicker. The tab came to just over 16€ apiece. About $19. How can you beat that?

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