Tuesday 4 August 2015

La Vieille Auberge restaurant, Souillac, The Dordogne, France

Serving beautifully presented local French cuisine, La Vieille Auberge houses a traditional hotel restaurant with a surprising amount of flair. Although the two dining rooms tend to be pretty full, the food overshadows the ambiance - the neutral decor is elegant, but unremarkable, while the table cloths are white, crisp and conservative. If you are hungry, the four course Menu Tradition (36 euros) begins with an amuse bouche, such as cold carrot and fennel soup. You then get to choose from several starters, main courses and deserts.  Among the starters, the parmesan biscuit, served with a creamy cheese, is very salty and full of flavour.  For a main, the saddle of lamb is a little fatty, but is served with a fine vegetable cake. The duck breast, skewed and resting on young carrots swimming in a red wine and shallot sauce, is also rich and succulent.

Saddle of lamb, with a fine vegetable cake

Next you get a large pellet of local goats cheese (from nearby Rocamadour) served on a piece of slate with a small salad and local walnuts - it is exquisitely presented and very tasty.  For desert, the crème brûlée is very pleasant. But the big bowl of strawberries, served with rich ice cream and cream, is the pick of the bunch. La Vieille Auberge offers a good selection of red wines from south west France, starting at about 16 euros a bottle, or you can get a half bottle of a clean, crisp French white wine for 12 euros.  The waiting staff can seem stretched, but remain professional and helpful. Although the accompanying bread is good, the table water may be at room temperature - a rare blemish for a restaurant that pays attention to the details. 8/10

Lots of strawberries and lots of cream