Occasionally I come across amazing hidden away restaurants, where the skills of the chef turn a meal into something very special. One such restaurant is the Auberge du Cellier in Montner, some 30 kms to the west of Perpignan in south-west France, where Pierre Louis Marin has created somewhere to enjoy the highest quality local produce, prepared and presented with great skill and panache. Everything about the restaurant is special, from the single green chair at each table, to the welcome of the staff, to the way in which the food is presented, to the excellent list of local wines, and above the the quality of the food.
We went there last night for a very special meal, and one of our party has an allergy to cow’s milk. Instead of just showing the items on the menu that she could eat, the chef Pierre Louis Marin, discussed various options with her, and concocted beautiful dishes especially for her to enjoy.
As well as “La Carte” there were menus priced at €32, €46, €55 or €69, all of which represented really excellent value for the quality of the food. We particularly enjoyed:
- a wonderfully textured melon gazpacho, with crispy pieces of ham and seeds on top
- rich and tasty Foie gras mi-cuit maison, herbes folles, huile de noisette, truffe tuber aestivum et parmesan
- Un tiramisu de tomates, aux variétés anciennes, tomates séchées et mascarpone – perhaps with a touch too much mascarpone
- Fine Filet d’agneau catalan, houmous, aubergine, jus corsé au romarin
- Mignon de porc « tirabuixo », en croûte de pain aux noix, fenouil braisé et purée riche
- beautifully prepared Saint Honoré aux fruits de saison
The wine list was quite extensive, focusing mainly on wines from the region, with a dominance of AOC Roussillon and Côtes Catalanes. For an aperitif, we had a local Muscat and an amazingly rich, intense and well-balanced Grenache Noir doux from Domaine Victor in Maury – am determined to visit Maury and purchase some of this most unusual and delicious wine. And then we were recommended to try the very reasonably priced Domaine Seguela Les Candalières 2012 – which was full of delicious ripe fruit (60% Carignan, 20% Syrah and 20% Grenache), soft tannins, and of good length and depth – perfect with the lamb and pork.
The Auberge du Cellier is definitely to be recommended (1, rue de Saint-Eugénie, 66720 Montner – 04 68 29 09 78).