Saturday 20 January 2024

Short-Lived, but wonderful.


On the road between Frayssinet le Gelat and Cahors in SW France, there was an ancient, and very beautiful stone-built water mill that had lain empty for decades.

Then one day along came a chef and his wife who decided to buy the old place and create a very up-market restaurant. During its first week of trading I was invited by my friend, architect Bob Dixon, to sample their wares.

I should explain that Bob had dedicated his life to gastronomy, and had probably wined and dined in many of the world's most prestigious restaurants.

Both the wine list and the menu were impressive. We ordered our meals, and Bob ordered Champagne and a Pomerol. The restaurant's interior was spectacular, and was filled with eagerly expectant, wealthy looking, diners.

First to arrive at our table was a surprise selection of amuse bouches; dainty little tit-bits that were bursting with exotic flavours. They were totally delicious, and accompanied the Champagne perfectly.

I can't remember what we then ate (this was about 40 years ago), but we were halfway through our main courses when the shouting began from within the kitchen. Firstly just small outbursts, then becoming fully fledged continuous screaming.

The waitress (Mrs Chef) seemed totally unphased by the outbursts, and continued as if nothing was happening. Most of the clients treated the rumpus as somewhat amusing; if slightly noisy. It continued at full-pelt until we left a couple of hours later.

Sadly the restaurant didn't last. I imagine the chef had a breakdown, or was taken away, and the place closed its doors after just a few weeks.

One hears about such places, but to experience one first-hand was quite something. I've never experienced anything like it since!

24 comments:

  1. That's a dining experience you didn't forget. I wonder, as you did, what was going on back there. At least the chef didn't appear waving a meat cleaver.
    I would love to taste the exotic flavours of an amuse bouche.

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    Replies
    1. The meat cleaver was probably hidden from sight! Yes, the amuse bouches came as a very pleasant surprise.

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  2. Some things are not forgotten. Too bad you forgot the food, I wonder what you ate there.

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    Replies
    1. Sadly I can't remember, there was too much going on elsewhere.

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  3. Replies
    1. My version was an estimate!

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    2. Too many confuse fazed and phased but I've learned to skim over the mistakes and just read on these days.

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  4. Never experienced anything like it? You should come to our house for your Sunday dinner!
    "****! Where's the ****ing Bisto?"
    "NO! I DO NOT SOUND LIKE ****ING GORDON RAMSEY!"
    "AAAAARGH! I've burnt my hand!"
    "Ask that ****ing Cro Magnon how many roast potatoes he wants!"

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    Replies
    1. I do also know people like that, but personally I'm very calm and organised in my kitchen. You'd hardly know I was there!

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  5. Sounds like someone was wound a little tightly.

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  6. It seems that many chefs are like that .... must be the heat and stress of the environment ! After seeing it on Masterchef, the Professional's, I am desperate to go to the restaurant ' Alchemist ' in Copenhagen .... it looks absolutely amazing and the chef seems very calm ! XXXX

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    Replies
    1. We have 464 restaurants here in Brighton/Hove. Enough to keep me busy for a while.

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    2. In parts of Hove's main street it's nothing but restaurants. Brighton has a few roads like that too, but more widespread.

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  7. You should try to recreate the dainty little tidbits that you recall fondly. Personally, I can make a meal out of just the tidbits. When the meal arrives I am not very hungry.

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    Replies
    1. I shall be serving some canap├ęs this evening, but nothing like the one's we ate at this restaurant.

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  8. I bet it happens every day in McDonalds!

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    Replies
    1. I've still not eaten any of McD's offerings. I really must one day. I shall report back about the chef (do they have chefs?).

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    2. No idea, I've only ever had coffee at one just outside Bordeaux!

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  9. Maybe he was in the armed services before and thought that was the way to get people to do anything for you. I am sorry for his wife. I wouldn't want to be around a person like that.

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    Replies
    1. She, the poor thing, was obviously immune to his outbursts, and took them as normal. It must have been going on for years.

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