Bouillon Maurel

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The newest addition to Montpellier’s lively food scene, this bouillon-style restaurant with its old zinc-topped bar, granny-style light fixtures and old-fashioned paintings, reminds us that sometimes it’s good to take a few steps back in time! The proof can be found in the crowd of restaurateurs who rushed in for a table the day we went for lunch, most notably the chefs from Anga and Mikado, who ordered a trio of plancha-grilled langoustines; big stuffed mussels in tomato sauce; a gargantuan aioli with pearly cod, fried smelt, mussels, grey shrimp and sautéed potatoes; a gigantic veal curry served with lots of rice or a huge thyme omelet topped with crabmeat; even a runny chocolate tart with apple slices. We heard that the chef also prepared calf’s head with sauce gribiche and beef tongue that evening… Our advice? Call ahead to make sure the restaurant will be open, because the owner is the kind of guy who likes to party and sleep in the next day! // Gwen Jacquère  

FEELING THIRSTY? Around 20 organic and local wines: Alicante Bouschet, a round red from the Domaine Ravanès (€4 a glass), Le Blanc, a well-structured Roussanne-Marsanne from the Domaine de Pélican (€30 a bottle), L’Orange à la Mer, an aromatic wine from Le Mas Foulaquier (€46)… 
PRICE: Dish of the day €12-16 (lunch), à la carte €25-34, small plates €5-12 (dinner). 

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