La Marquiere, Carcassonne

With only one night in Carcassonne, I make reservations for dinner at La Marquiere. It’s some serious forward planning by my standards, and I’m driven to this level of organization by the number of disappointing meals we have had over the last few days.

I went straight to the top – of the Trip Advisor ratings, that is, and we arrive at the restaurant at 8pm. We are shown to a(nother) beautiful outdoor courtyard, decked out with just 6 tables, terracotta tiles and lovely yellow umbrellas. It’s a welcome oasis from the throngs of tourists just outside the garden walls.

Adam orders an Aperitif Medieval which he describes as “a medieval potion of frogs legs, human hearts and a load of honey”. He is quick to consult the wine menu afterward and selects a 2009 Causse d’Aboras that has three stars next to it’s name on the menu. The waiter commends his selection and when he brings the bottle to the table, he pours us two glasses and recommends giving them a “French minute” to air.

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Pretty amuse bouche – cucumber gazpacho and olives

After much deliberation, I order Fois Gras Ravioli with mushroom sauce and pan-fried Fois Gras entree. It’s an amazing dish – little ravioli parcels with a decadent Fois Gras centre that melt in my mouth. It’s so rich and naughty, a lingering feeling which is only exacerbated considering Adam’s feelings about the production of fois gras. This has to be the absolute definition of guilty pleasure.

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In complete contrast to my entree, Adam orders Sardine Fillets in Vinegar which appear on a crusty slice of baguette. There are lots of colours and layers on the plate, a fresh and light way to start the meal.

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While the entrees are good, both our main courses are nothing short of magnifique. Adam is quick to snap up the Leg of Duck Confit, and I experience a little menu envy when it arrives at our table, regally resting upon its bed of garlicky roast potatoes.

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However the Pan Fried Scallops are among the best I’ve had, complemented perfectly by both the vegetable stack and creamy sauce.

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After our mains are cleared away, our waiter appears back at the table, apologetically advising us that the chef’s first attempt at our dessert, a Raspberry and Lemon Cream Souffle, did not rise. We love the fact that the staff take the extra time to serve dishes that they are proud of, and are actually relieved to have a few minutes respite following the first two courses!

This is my first Souffle so I have no comparison point (and considering the chef’s failed first attempt at ours, it may be a long time before I try to recreate one at home), but it’s magical. It’s served with a raspberry coulis on the side, but we concentrate purely on the light and fluffy Souffle, the tangy lemon flavour balanced perfectly with the sweet raspberry layer.

As usual, my night-time iPhone photos do not do this wonderful dessert justice

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At €140, it’s the most expensive meal we have had during our travels through France (our intercity train tickets have cost less!), but it is worth every penny. It was a truly special meal, in a lovely setting, and the service was among the best we have experienced.

La Marquiere
13 Rue St Jean
Carcassonne
http://www.lamarquiere.com

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