La Petite Ecole
In this former village school where a Fourth Republic vibe still reigns (backpacks, maps on the walls, a blackboard, tables with ink pots and school textbooks), the best thing about it is the cafeteria. That’s where Lionel (in the kitchen) and Sylvie Echaubard (front of house and wine) doll out brilliant lessons: homemade bread deserving of an A+, served alongside a subtle asparagus velouté sprinkled with goat cheese and walnuts; the splendid brininess of John Dory cooked at a low temperature, with earthy notes from dried beef, the astringency of artichokes and the sweetness of a pea cream; firm black lamb from Le Velay that was blushing with pleasure, plus chard, apple chutney, horseradish, wild garlic and pine nuts; a very cracked square of over-aged Saint-Nectaire cheese, also served as a light mousse with a grated crust; before a lovely combo of preserved kumquats, fresh grapefruit, yuzu cream and lemon sorbet for well-behaved pupils. In short, a €38 menu that deserves high academic honors! // G.D.
FEELING THIRSTY? There’s a superlative selection: a white Gaillac from Michel Issaly and Far West, a Languedoc red from Mylène Bru (€5.50 a glass), a Cairanne from Marcel Richaud, a Minervois from Jean-Baptiste Senat, a Provence Grand Blanc from Henri Milan, an Auxey-Duresses red from Jean-Pierre Diconne and… a very rare Auvergne Pinot gris from Pierre Beauger (respectively €30, €36, €39, €45 and €105 a bottle).
PRICE: Menus €33 (except Sunday lunch), €38 and €48.