La Mirande, Avignon

September 27, 2010

On September 13, 2010, Linda and I stayed and dined at La Mirande in Avignon. The hotel stands opposite the southern wall of the Papal Palace and was once owned by the physician of Napoleon III. The façade dates to 1688, the dining room to the 14th century. On this land once stood the Palace of the Cardinals, where gargantuan meals were served when the pope came to visit his cardinals.

The dining room certainly seemed very antique in a relaxing way. This was the view from my seat over the serving table to the entry from the kitchen.

When we sat down at the table, a little dish of crudités was served.

We ordered a glasses of Billecart-Salmon Champagne.

The menu was surprisingly limited; for 66 € one could choose from just two choices in each of starters, mains and desserts. The cheese cart was also included.

Bread was put on the table with a surprising and nice ball of goat butter.

The wine list was extensive, but naturally we wanted a Châteauneuf du Pape from just north of Avignon. I selected a 2003 Domaine de Marcoux, an excellent year due to a very hot summer in the Rhone Valley.

The amuse-gueule was girolles in a little cup with parmesan and bacon strips.

Linda’s first course was 
Duo de foie gras en deux façons : comme un macaron aux quatre épices et poêlé à la fleur de sel.

She wrote: The sauteed foie gras was excellent, as was the terrine, but the macaroon almond paste detracted from the foie gras.

My first course was 
Comme une salade niçoise, maquereau et thon rouge mi-cuit

This was surprisingly good. It didn’t claim to be a real salade niçoise,
 which it wasn’t with cooked green beans and wax beans, but the spirit was there. The piece of mackerel was very good as were the three squares of barely-cooked red tuna. (You can see the top one on the right.) The yellow ball is the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. There were caper berries, almonds and niçois olives.

We both went on to
Filet de bœuf poêlé, quinotto aux cèpes et lardons de vieux jambon, jus brun aux pignons de pin

The beef filet was good quality and was sparked up by the brown sauce, although I didn’t see the point of the pine nuts in it. A “quinotto” is quinoa prepared like a risotto. Enhanced with cèpes, parmesan and good ham it was a more interesting accompaniment to the beef than pedestrian potatoes.

Le chariot de nos fromages frais et affinés

The cheese cart was just large enough to offer variety without excess that could not be maintained fresh. Nice.

For dessert we both had the
Déclinaison autour de la pomme

On the bottom is a slice of poached apple. Fresh apple sauce tops it. On the left are apple gels. This was nice.

Macaroons finished the meal.

The meal was curious. We enjoyed the only menu offered in the one-Michelin-star dining room of a very elegant, historic, expensive hotel next to a major tourist site. But, if you consider the meal only, it was what one might expect and enjoy in a lovely rustic inn with an imaginative chef. The inventive touches didn’t make it any less well-done classic country French. The price was very reasonable. One left feeling satisfied, not at all overwhelmed.

In the morning we enjoyed the excellent buffet in the sunny breakfast room.

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