Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prouhèze Saveurs

Maybe you know about the Michelin Red Guide, and its “star” rating system for restaurants? In France, Michelin has rated restaurants since 1933 and it’s still THE guide for finding the “best” restaurants in France. (If you want to know more, there’s an article about the Michelin rating process in a recent edition of the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/11/23/091123fa_fact_colapinto)

But the Red Guide also has a lesser-known rating, known as the “Red Bib” (Bib being the nickname for Bibendum, aka “the Michelin man”). The “Red Bib” designation means “good food at moderate prices”. Montpellier has just one restaurant with a “Red Bib” designation, called Prouhèze Saveurs. Opened since 2004, it’s bistro-styled and the owner-chef, Pierre-Olivier Prouhèze, is from the Aubrac region, about 200 kilometres north of Montpellier, where the family operated restaurants for four generations.

Prouhèze Saveurs is on the other side of the Lez River from our apartment, but it’s just a quick ride on the tram and then a 15-minute walk, crossing a pedestrian bridge over the river to get to the restaurant for dinner. For appetizer, Michèle and I share a dish of lightly-seared cèpes. The all-too-brief season for cèpes is just about over, so we enjoy one last dish of these earthy and meaty mushrooms. For the main course, Michèle takes the “filet de St-Pierre” (John Dory), pan-seared and served on a bed of rosemary risotto. I go with the Bream filet, pan-seared with sesame, basil, and walnut oil. Michèle’s dish is delicious and the fish is delicate. My bream, caught locally, is a bit tough. I guess he fought a hard battle on the line.

With both the appetizer and the mains, I pick a Mas Jullien Blanc 2007, Vin de Pays de L’Herault, ABV 13%. It’s a blend of mostly Grenache Blanc and Carignan Blanc, with Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Clairette, and Roussanne, although Jullien does not disclose the percentages, which change from one year to the next. On the nose, it starts out with citrus, dried herbs and mineral aromas. As it opens up, I pick up more floral aromas, then peach, red apple, and pear flavours, even some pineapple notes. Balanced by fresh acidity. It works well with the food all the way through.

After dinner, we take our time strolling back to the apartment, enjoying the soft evening air, passing through Antigone and the old town, stopping for some gelato, checking out the Friday nightlife of Montpellier.

For photo highlights, go to http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=10344&id=100000148392134&l=d075e3aa14

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