La Palombe Gourmande
A discreet café in a village with 310 souls, La Palombe Gourmande is taking flight in the culinary skies with the help of its new Australian chef Luke MacLeon, who used to work at SaQuaNa and The Legian Bali. He is driving the foodie crowd wild at this cross between a bistro and an épicerie, with its organic and carnivore-friendly pantry (vegetables from the Villages Accueillants farm, poultry from Philippe Verdier in Hères) and relaxed prices. Take the day we went for lunch, for €15, in a dining room that was jam-packed: delightful cod decorated with browned butter, spinach, turnips and a black garlic and orange sauce; tasty Blonde d’Aquitaine filet mignon with sautéed potatoes and a rich, mustardy reduction; before a delicious caramel and walnut floating island. The wine list was still being finalized when we visited, but it was certainly promising: an aromatic Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh from the Domaine Pichard (€2.50 a glass) and a light Côtes-de-Gascogne from the Domaine de Pellehaut (€25 a bottle). On the weekends, the €30 menu has five courses: butternut squash and ginger mousse with crispy duck; wild salmon in a red curry sauce with spinach and sunchokes; poulet jaune with gnocchi and lardons flambéed in pastis; sheep’s milk cheese; mango and gariguette strawberry bavarois. Set menus €15-25 (weekday lunch) and €30 (Saturday evening and Sunday lunch). // P.L.