Where to eat out in... Dordogne
After exploring the area’s villages, châteaux and caves, make sure to enjoy the hearty cuisine, says Peter Stewart
1 Le 4
Located just ten minutes’ drive from the new Lascaux 4 cave discovery centre in Montignac, Le 4 has created a winning formula of tasty, seasonal dishes and impeccable service. The restaurant occupies a converted barn and features large stone walls, wooden beams, and plenty of space for a meal with friends or family.
The chef, Jean-bernard Lavaud, makes everyone feel welcome, as he leaves the kitchen and speaks to guests as they arrive. His concise menu has four choices of starters, mains and desserts, with the emphasis on locally sourced produce and regional specialities.
I arrived for lunch and, being a non-meat eater, opted for a melt-in-the-mouth black truffle and egg omelette served with a toasted polenta square and a bed of green salad. My companions had the poached quail, which they all agreed was beautifully tender and moist.
The portions were just right for lunch and allowed room for dessert. As the harvest season was in full swing, it seemed appropriate to plump for the tarte aux pommes, which was suitably rich without being too sweet.
Service was friendly and relaxed, and we never had the feeling of being rushed. Testament to Le 4’s popularity was the sight of tables full of local workers enjoying dishes that were fresh and bursting with flavour.
Open Tues-sun for lunch, Wed-sun for dinner Apr-oct; Wed-sun for lunch Nov-mar. Menus from €29. La Coste, 24290 Montignac Tel: (Fr) 5 53 51 86 92
2 La Ferme Saint-louis
Squirrelled away among medieval stone houses on a picturesque square in the town of Périgueux, La Ferme Saint-louis is proud of using products sourced exclusively from the Nouvelle-aquitaine region.
The restaurant is run by chef Thierry Pralong and his wife Agnès, who takes care of front of house. The couple have created a home from home, with exposed stone walls, low ceilings, a large fireplace and space for just 20 diners, adding a real feeling of intimacy to the dining experience.
I ate here on a chilly evening in the autumn, when the menu featured such heart-warming local dishes as calves’ sweetbreads, veal tenderloin in a chicory sauce, and foie gras soaked in sweet spices and wine from the Pécharmant appellation, just north of Bergerac.
As a pescatarian,
I was more than content with the sea bass fillet, which had been landed 14 hours earlier in the Bassin d’arcachon, and was cooked to perfection. A chocolate fondant dessert with a rum raisin centre was the perfect way to round off my meal.
Thanks to the cosy setting and smooth service, I felt completely relaxed in the heart of Périgueux and could hardly drag myself away. During the summer, you can dine alfresco on the cute terrasse, which looks on to the town’s narrow, winding streets.
Open Tues–sat for lunch and dinner. Menus from €28. 2 Rue Saint-louis, 24000 Périgueux Tel: (Fr) 5 53 53 82 77
This bistro is a ten-minute walk from the honey-hued facades of Sarlat-laCanéda’s charming old town and keeps locals coming back thanks to its well-priced dishes, many of which draw on regional recipes. L’alabrena (the Occitan word for the newt-like salamander, the emblem of Sarlat) has a tasteful, modern decor with soft grey walls, polished wooden tables and parquet flooring. The restaurant opened in spring last year when owner and head chef François Dalleau moved from the South of France. I chose duo de poisson, pan-fried fillets of cod and John Dory made all the more delicious thanks to the butternut squash and sweet potato accompaniment. For dessert, I had a decadent chocolate soufflé, topped with splashes of chocolate sauce and a sweet raspberry coulis.
On my visit, the meat options included fillet of beef topped with a pan-fried foie gras parcel, rabbit roulade finished with layers of courgettes, and a rabbit heart stew.
The location slightly beyond Sarlat’s tourist-filled centre means that most of the diners are locals, but L’alabrena is worth tracking down for an authentic taste of Dordogne served with a smile.
Open daily for lunch, Tues-sat for dinner. Open on Sunday for dinner for groups booking in advance. Menus from €19.50. 14 Rue Gabriel Tarde, 24200 Sarlat-la-canéda Tel: (Fr) 5 53 29 12 60