Bruno Verjus dared what not many would attempt: after being a food blogger for more than ten years, he is now stepping up to show what he means by perfect hospitality. And he does it quite well, let me show it.
Photos: Anna Robotka
The chef's table takes up almost the entire space, the interior of the restaurant is a beautiful reflection of a traditional French bistro. The dishes and the design are not over-complicated, nor is the menu, which is promisingly short. Bruno Verjus does not consider himself a chef, but of course he does his best to offer the utmost. It is to be expected because he has been writing a gastroblog since 2005, speaking in different radio broadcast, as well as being active in other fields of gastronomy, such as the organisation of the legendary Omnivore. It follows that his dishes call for double attention and an increased critical approach. After all, everyone feels the urge to grill a poacher turned gamekeeper. [By the way, he's doomed to be engaged in gastronomy due to his name: verjus means green juice, the juice of the unripe, green grapes.]
But this urge is soon over after entering the restaurant, because Bruno is a genuinely nice guy. Of course, this wouldn't be enough in itself but then he pulls out a huge duck liver, and not just any but one from the Landes region, with protected designation of origin. He serves it cold, sprinkled with Benin pepper, fleur de sel from Millac and Criollo cocoa nibs, with amazing bread, which is not baked by him, but by a local bakery (boulangerie), following his recipe.
He continues to impress when he whispers that he had received the secret recipe from an old Venetian chef and the secret lies in the flour-potato ratio: he uses more potato in the gnocchi than the conventional proportion, hence the very special texture. It works. On the plate, there's egg yolk cured in sea water, Breton oyster, yogurt, smoked burrata, wild sesame seed, smoked eel and nasturtium. A wonderful plate.
This is when he shares the secret of the gnocchi with me, but unfortunately I am not allowed to share it with you:
Scallop à carte blanche is next (I trusted him with the selection, of course you could order from the menu as well): with olive oil, truffle and with my huge favourite: finger lime, which is an Australian citrus (it's like a lemon caviar, extra crunchy and sour).
Burbot with brussels sprout and cauliflower mousse.
Pigeon (drumsticks and breast), duck liver, beetroot, orange, cashew sauce, radicchio, rose hip and a vegetable selection as extra garnish:
And there's still power left for the finish: a fantastic dessert from 14 different types of citrus, from the sour one, through the slightly sweet, to the bitter. And just to be on the safe side, a bit of Richerenches truffle on top. (I had been to Richerenches earlier, where a famous truffle market exists at the former headquarter of the Templars.)
Dynamic dishes, showing a true passion, full of ideas and made of excellent ingredients. Amazing experience, cool, informal, fun entertainment.