La Garrigue in the Old Town (Guest Blog)

Thanks to Strawberry Blonde (who needs no introducing to regular Eating Edinburgh readers) for sharing her delightful sounding evening at La Garrigue on Jeffrey Street, a French restaurant recently featured competing on Gordon Ramsay’s Best Local Restaurant. Ed

I braved the pouring rain last night for an evening of rustic French pleasure at a restaurant I’ve long wanted to try, the increasingly famous La Garrigue in the Old Town, with a group of my oldest friends (no, that’s not a cheeky reference to your age, ladies!). After securing a table a few weeks ago, I was full of anticipation for traditional Languedoc cooking “enlivened by a modern touch”.

 

La Garrigue

 

Already bustling when we arrived, we were all very pleased by the stylishly low-key interior, peppered with modern country scenes, and simply laid tables that reinforced perfectly the bistro ambience and emphasis on the food. The simple slate menu holders are a nice touch, and – quelle bonne surprise – I loved the sound of every dish on the menu! Thankfully some nibbles of deliciously moist olive bread (truly the best I’ve ever had!) arrived to tide us over while I dithered!

Goats Cheese Starter

After much discussion and dish-envy precaution, we settled on starters of Goats Cheese and twice baked Blue Cheese Soufflé, which were a picture and delivered to such a high standard, that the two who hadn’t ordered were fairly drooling in anticipation for the Mains. Thankfully, a generous basket of bread and butter had arrived to stave off their pangs of hunger and safeguard our plates from sneaky forks!

 

Twice Baked Souffle

 

We chose Mains of Sea Bass with Garlic Sauce, Slow Cooked Shin of Beef in Red Wine, Noisettes of Lamb with Olive Mash, and unable to resist the praise of Gordon Ramsay, I plumped for the Rabbit with Juniper Berries and Liver Dip.

Sea Bass

The dishes were simply and perfectly presented, and we tucked in with gusto! The rabbit was truly delicious, perfect wintery food, and the liver dip complimented the sweetness perfectly. Fulsome praise too for the melt in the mouth Beef (which came with a delicious macaroni gratin) and the Sea Bass.

 

Rabbit with Juniper Berries

 

The lamb was cooked perfectly, and the mash was tasty, smooth and satisfying, but not being too keen on garlic, the kitchen wasn’t able to offer any alternative to ratatouille to accompany it – so perhaps the least successful of our particular choices and a minor glitch in service here.

La Garrigue Wine List

To go with the food, two of the ladies opted for the Eraus 2007 Sauvignon Blanc which they quaffed enthusiastically, and I had a couple of glasses of the Palagret 2005 (Syrah/Pinot Noir) which La Garrigue describes as “complex, racy and elegant” and yes, it was!

Although we were really not in need of a dessert, we really did need to have a look .. And unable to resist temptation, we ordered Lavender Crème Brulee, Lemon Tarte and Chocolate Parfait.

 

Desserts

 

These did take a little while to arrive, but were absolutely worth the wait – heavenly crème brulee, melting yet softly chewy chocolate, and tart lemon with a scoop of rich raspberry sorbet. You won’t be surprised to read that the plates were thoroughly cleaned! We fortified ourselves for the journey home with coffees and teas, which arrived with delectable homemade petites fours – a very nice touch!

Coffee & Petit Fours

All in all, we thought La Garrigue was superb. A few glitches with friendly service (the coffees and the bill took a long time to arrive at the end) but that didn’t take from our experience. I was pleased to see the Chef/Owner, Jean Michel Gauffre out and about smiling around the restaurant. We’ll be back, perhaps to try their next seasonal menu (although i’d happily work my way through all the dishes on this one!) and try a few more of their wines, being more of a New World girl; I really enjoy learning more about the Old.

Price wise, 2 courses for £25.50 or 3 for £28 is good value for the quality of the food. The wine list is not cheap, but for a treat, highly recommended.  From us, La Garrigue gets an 8 for Service, the Ladies gets an 8 (slightly strange location and one could feel a bit exposed!), and overall, an enthusiastic and returnable 9/10.

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