Michel Sarran, Toulouse
October 16, 2012
Michel Sarran’s mother was the owner and cook of an inn in the nearby Armagnac region. He trained under several of France’s top chefs and opened this restaurant under his own name in Toulouse in 1995. It gained a Michelin star the following year and its second in 2003. Linda and I went for dinner on September 10, 2012.
We walked through the formal, modern, inside dining room to the summer terrace in the back covered with a canvas roof.
We started with glasses of Champagne Deutz while we looked at the menu. We ordered the five-course Menu Saveurs; there is also a nine-course Menu Surprise.
The wine list offers very attractive pricing for older prestige wines which are ready to drink, although not necessarily at their peak yet. We chose a bottle of 2006 Domaine de la Grange des Pères (Vaillé.) This Languedoc blend of low-yield Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cabernet and Counoise was superb, but would probably be even better in a few years.
The plate of amuse-gueules included:
a bowl of parmentier de queue de boeuf; oxtail meat in a rich potato mash;
feuilleté au tartare de magret de canard; puff pastry with duck meat;
a sablet; a little olive oil cake;
a package of peanuts roasted in garlic oil.
A nice, varied start.
The first course was
FOIE GRAS de canard de la Ferme de La Cave
En soupe tiède à l’huître de Belon
This is a dish which Michel Sarran has been serving for a long time. The flavor of the foie gras was mild, but distinct, in its cool, frothy broth. The belon oyster hidden inside gave the little burst of salt, which foie gras needs, in a very elegant way.
ROUGET entre deux craquants,
Fenouil tendre au beurre d’anchois,
Mousseline au safran du Quercy,
“Parfums d’une bouillabaisse”
The sea bream had its characteristic flavor, nicely enhanced by the fennel/anchovy purée and the sauce with the flavor of a saffrony bouillabaisse. Very good.
PIGEON du Mont Royal, suprêmes frits en kadaïf
Jus à l’encre, les abattis en croquette,
La cuisse en ragoût fondant de petits pois
The little croquette in the first photo enclosed a cream made with the innards of the pigeon. The peas under the foam were with some meat from braised pigeon leg. The large, piece of pigeon breast had been lightly roasted, carved, coated with a vermicelli crust and quickly deep fried. The black sauce had been colored with squid ink: its flavor was not evident, but it added a liquid texture which the dish needed. Very good.
La dégustation de chez Xavier
The cheese tray was the right size, enough for choices, but not too much to keep just ripe. It was peculiar in that only the goat cheeses and one tomme were local. The Brie de Meaux seemed out of place. Below is my plate with a cherry compote alongside my three choices.
Dans une tomate confite à la pulpe de fraises des bois
Crème glacée basilic, un gratin de chiboust au miel
A fresh tomato shell had been cooked with wild strawberries and filled with various fruit, which were also scattered around, accompanied by a scoop of basil ice cream. Alongside was a little cake of gratinéed pastry cream beaten with stiff egg whites and honey. It was filled with wild strawberries and was delicious.
The mignardises were a small chocolate and peanut ice cream cone and a little glass which I can’t remember. There were also two little chocolate bonbons and a lemon macaron.
The meal was interesting, well conceived and well executed, easily meriting Michel Serran’s two Michelin stars. The service was genial and efficient. The pace was just right. The ambience on the dining terrace was enjoyable with well-spaced tables and no music. The chef came around to visit with each table, a nice, traditional touch which seems to be declining nowadays. The gentle pricing strategy for older wines added to the friendly atmosphere. Bravo.