Le Guide gastronomique

NB:

These are very personal and subjective opinions.

The list is eclectic and by no means exhaustive.

We don’t visit every restaurant annually (sometimes we’ve only been once).

So take all these comments – and the prices – with a pinch of salt.

 

 A red box means a place has had consistently good reports from previous guests.

 

Local
BelpechLe Vixiège

04 68 60 62 03

We get very variable reports about this place. Sometimes very positive indeed; sometimes very lukewarm. It’s always pretty basic, and nobody has ever said it’s expensive (reckon well under 30€ a head). Probably worth going for a beer one day to see if it’s looking promising this week.
Mazères L’Auberge de l’Hers

05 61 69 45 22

It was originally the municipal bath and wash-house; but, at 25-35€ a head, they won’t take you to the cleaners. We think it’s great, and we’ve had only positive reports. The food is excellent, with ample choice for the adventurous and the less adventurous, the staff are friendly and helpful, and the setting is super with a terrace over the eponymous river by an ancient bridge, floodlit at night. Worth booking.
Mazères Le Paradis du Pape05.61.69.39.40 Glorious gardens set on the banks of the Hers river. There are some touches of innovation in the otherwise fairly standard regional menu. Service is friendly, and the chef is cheery, bonhomous and enormous.Brilliant for a Sunday lunch or on a balmy summer’s evening; you should certainly book (around 30€ – 40€ per head).
Mazères La Ferme Ô Délices
05 61 60 65 30
We’ve had a big celebratory lunch here for 12 people, and we’ve had an out-of-season intimate dîner-à-deux; we think it’s wonderful. They produce all the ingredients organically on their on-site farm The young chef has trained at big-name restaurants, and is clearly out to get a Michelin star, and he’s an innovator, as you can tell from a menu which includes roast pork in a chocolate sauce (Yes, really! – and it tastes a million times better than it sounds). Don’t go all noble and miss out on the desserts. They are worth the guilt. Must book. 30€ – 40€ per head.
Montgéard La Ferme de Champreux05 61 81 33 13

 

Near Gardouch (drive through Montgéard, and look for signs)

A great place for a French-style family Sunday lunch. Bourgeois cooking, but to a high standard, and reasonably priced, say €35 – €40 per head.Dylan Glover reports: “Unobtrusive and efficient service, coupled with a solid house red and a superb Magret de Canard, make for a very relaxed gastronomic excursion. The garish “Miami Vice”-style neon exterior belies an intimate and pleasant terrace with lakeside views. Varied prix fixe menu ranges from €16 to €35; extra expense is rewarded with rich, memorable encounters with the flavours and textures of the Aude (including a hidden fish course for the €30 menu!)”
Fanjeaux La Table Cathare 04 68 24 62 46 Not the most exciting gastronomic event in the world, but quite pleasant, with well prepared, standard regional dishes at acceptable prices (probably under €25 per head) in an entirely acceptable environment; and it is only a 15-minute drive from base.
PamiersLe Roy Gourmand05 61 60 12 12 Setting, service, carte du jour (€30) posher than you might expect from a station restaurant (over level crossing towards centre ville, first right). Josh Samuel and his Uni chums would never eat anywhere else. Now they are successful, powerful and rich, they still eat there, (and have given the writer real stick for suggesting that this is anything less than one of the best restaurants in France!).
Crescendo OK, this is embarrassing, but the self-service restaurant in the Carrefour complex is great value. Not a top gastronomic experience, but preferable to McDonalds, and not much pricier. On Mondays they do “All you can eat Mussels and Frites” for 9€95.

Mirepoix and nearby
Le Cantegril 05 61 68 11 26 Best choice for an honest square meal in the main square of Mirepoix. A number of set menus, all pretty good value bourgeois regional cooking. We think the locals use it at lunch, so it’s less of a rip-off than its location suggests. €25 a head. Worth booking, especially if you want to sit outside. Service is fine when Mme la Patronne is in charge, but be prepared; it’s totally disastrous on her days off.
La Flambée 05 61 68 16 59 Just off the main square (in the street alongside the Casino supermarket), and one step up-market from the Cantegril. More original food, with a clearly Catalan influence, and a lot more garlic. Friendly, efficient service in a pleasant setting. €27 a head.
Chez Llobet05 61 69 44 34 M Llobet used to run L’Auberge du Pays (qv), and has now opened this wine bar/brasserie just off the main square, opposite the cathedral. Varied and unusual menu, well prepared; prices higher (€35 per head) but still worth it – especially if you’ll enjoy his clever wine list. Must book.
Hôtel Le Commerce 05 61 68 10 29 A family-run one-time coaching in. Everyone who has eaten here speaks highly of it as a safe, reliable, moderately priced place for a good meal in a pleasant atmosphere. You’ll have a bill for around €30 a head. Service can be  v e r y    s l o w  when it’s busy, and it often is, so try mid-week rather than weekends.
Hôtel Relais Royal 05 61 60 19 19 The cheapest menu is 32€ a head, and they go up to 90€, but a 16/20 score in Gault-Millau means they can’t be all bad; so, if you want to push the boat out….
Les Remparts

05 61 68 12 15

Very good food indeed. We’re in 30+€ a head territory here, but the atmosphere (especially in the crypt) is quite special, the food exciting and very well prepared (if a touch on the nouvelle side); the wine is list interesting and not over-priced. Open 7 days a week, and we think it’s good for a “special” meal
Le Comptoir Gourmand05 61 68 19 19 Up-market Deli with restaurant. Friendly, welcoming service. Pleasant setting, Delightful and quite original menu – especially the fish. Just across the road from the Western Stone Gateway without the City Wall.
Bastide de Bousignac
near Mirepoix
L’Auberge Du Pays
Used to be worth the journey for delightful, imaginative local bourgeois cooking with cheery patron and excellent value. It seems to have gorn orff under new management, now that M Llobet (qv) has moved on to better things – and Mme Llobet likewise!
Troye d’Ariège L’Ecole Buissonnière

05 61 68 11 62
On the D70 7 km south of Mirepoix

Where Kafka meets Alice in Wonderland, this place is best described as an over-cluttered surreal bric-à-brac shop, with some tables shoe-horned in. But the service is warm and friendly, the food original, very local, very home-made, very delicious and remarkably good value. We’d expect you to escape at well under 30€ per head having had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Camon L’Abbaye-Château de Camon

05 61 60 31 23
On the D7 12 km south of Mirepoix

A 16th century fortified abbaye now run by a Welsh/South African couple with a Mancunian chef (very multi-cultural!). It’s a gloriously pretty, atmospheric and romantic place to spend an evening; the ambience and charming, efficient service are matched by an exciting (if quite short) and excellently prepared menu. We recently overheard a Parisian asserting that this was the best meal he’d had in the region. Not cheap, but worth the probable 40€ a head, as much for the setting, and the service as for the food. You must book (but at least you can speak on the phone in English!)
Towards the Pyrenees
Villeneuve d’Olmes
Near Lavelanet Castrum

05 61 01 35 24

They moved to new premises opposite the pharmacie in Villeneuve d’Olmes; and everything went downhill; we have been very disappointed with the service and the atmosphere, and, alas, not at all surprised that they’ve lost their Michelin *, and do not now even get a Michelin mention. It was typically €60 per head; with a cheaper weekday lunch, which might combine well with a visit to Montségur – but see below.
Montségur Chez Costes05 61 01 10 24 At the foot of the Montségur “plug” it sounds as though this place earns its mention in the Michelin (no stars) by virtue of its good traditional cuisine, as well as by virtue of its beautiful setting and ambiance. It sounds good value. Please try it and report
Castelnaudary
(there are dozens of excellent restaurants in Castelnaudary; these are two of our favourites)
Hôtel du Centre et Lauragais 04 68 23 25 95 Excellent bourgeois cooking (and, we think, the best cassoulet in the area). Small noisy terrace on the main street of Castelnaudary. Otherwise, somewhat lacking in atmosphere. Typically €30 per head. Must book if you want to lunch on the terrace, especially on Sundays.
Le Tirou04 68 94 15 95 Hidden behind a petrol station opposite the Géant supermarket, but, nonetheless recommended for an evening out. There’s excellent, friendly service in the very pretty garden; food a bit flash and quite rich (€35+ per head). Do book.
North of Castelnaudary
Saint Félix de Lauragais
Near Revel

Le Poids Public05 61 83 00 20
Michelin *: excellent food, pleasant, modern, unremarkable decor, but the most glorious view from the terrace, which is a heavenly lunch spot for a sunny day (but you need to specify when you book that you want to be on the terrace – which can get very hot in the summer). Beware of their speciality amuse-gueule, stewed cocks’ combs! Service hits exactly the right note. Brilliant wine list – and you can trust the sommelier not to rip you off. Probably 50€ + per head; must book.
La Pomarède
(Towards Revel)
Château de La Pomarède

04 68 60 49 69

Michelin *: very classy indeed, set in an old Cathar castle; takes itself quite seriously, so the magnificently romantic setting can become something of a ritualised sacramental experience, rather than just a great meal. Specialities include: Fraîcheur de homard et purée d’artichaut and Nougat glacé aux olives de Lucques. Very expensive, of course, but if you can afford it, probably worth every penny. Must book.
Carcassonne and Nearby
Old CityLa Table Ronde

04 68 47 38 21

There’s a wealth of restaurants in the modern town, and a surfeit of rip-off joints in the old, where this one is. Mulberry shaded terrace is cool and peaceful, a great relief from the maelstrom of the tourist streets. Food entirely acceptable, reasonably priced, given the location. A much less awful lunch experience than you’d expect in this tourist trap.
Cavanac Le Château de Cavanac04 68 79 61 04 If you’re willing to drive for 50 minutes each way to this village (10 km South of Carcassonne on the D104), you’ll have a gastronomic evening to remember. You can choose à la carte, but the set menu is astonishing value: A kir to start with, a choice of 4 starters (including ½ lobster or foie gras), 4 fish courses (including écrevisses), 4 meat courses, a selection of goat cheeses with honey, desserts, coffee and digestif, with as much red, white and rosé wine as you can drink. You will leave several kilos heavier, €40 per head lighter, and several degrees happier. Must book.

Limoux
 
L’Églantine04 68 31 21 95 Very pleasant service. Original menu. Worth the €30 if you’re in or around Limoux, but ne vaut pas le voyage 
Brugairollesnear Limoux Domaine Gayda04 68 20 78 31 If you like the idea of sitting on a terrace watching a glorious sunset over vineyard-clad hills, while enjoying a first-class meal and classy service, with wines grown and bottled on-site, then this is worth the 45 minutes in the car, and the 40€ to 50€ per head that you’ll pay.

It’s an extremely stylish restaurant in the vineyard of Domaine Gayda. The menu is exciting, different and very well prepared. The service is spot-on, thoughtful, thorough, friendly (but sometimes a bit slow). Their cheaper wines are fine, but nothing to write home about, but the more expensive jobs won’t break the bank and are really excellent (there’s a rumour that they supply the house wine for Gordon Ramsay’s gaffs). In short, this has become our favourite restaurant in the region.