Thursday, April 27, 2006

Restaurant La Diligence - Montpellier

This smallish restaurant, tucked in the pedestrian downtown area of Montpellier, not far from La Comédie, was delightful. When we first walked in, I was struck by the coziness & warmth. Despite the high stone vaulted ceilings, the dining room wasn't at all austere or cold. The colours were rich and the lighting cast a softening glow on the walls.

First we sampled the house equivalent of a kir royale, where instead of kir in the champagne, they put a homemade raspberry liqueur. For my appetizer, I had the beef carpaccio, wisp thin, with shavings of parmigian.

The main course was my favourite, not only the dish I'd selected but also its presentation and side vegetables. I had chosen a Mille Feuille d'Agneau (thousand-leaves of lamb). Normally, mille feuilles are tons of layers of puff pastry filled with cream. In this case, it appears that the tender lamb was what replaced the pastry... A thousand layers of lamb - I swooned!

The mille feuille came on a large plate that ended up resembling a painter's palette: The lamb was in the center surrounded by splashes of colour - a tablespoon of carrot purée, a tiny stacked ratatouille (eggplant, tomato, and zucchini), a dab of Gratin Dauphinois (decadently rich potatoes, cream and cheese). Not one of the sides was more than a few tastes, and it was the perfect complement to the meat, just enough variety to keep tantalizing your taste buds without feeling like an overstuffed sofa.

The dessert, a tiramisu served in a parfait glass, was so light it floated onto my tongue and evaporated, leaving behind a mere hint of chocolate and cream.