The rumours are true. I’m in love! Well, with Montpellier that is. My first time visiting this city and what an amazing place it has been. Young, fun and all centred around food and drink. It’s exactly what I look for when getting away. We however weren’t staying in the centre of the city, but 10 minutes outside of it in the middle of the French Vineyards at Domaine de Verchant. An enchanting hotel with some impeccable dining spaces and an incredible infinity pool which served me very well for a few days.
But just beyond the pool awaits even more magnificence in the way of La Plage by Verchant. An eye wateringly beautiful restaurant which sits in the middle of 70 acres of autumnal vineyards. You really need to see it in real life to discover just how beautiful it is. We started first in the bar area over a glass of Champagne and watched the restaurant quickly filled up before we took our seat for lunch.
The setting is so magical and with tables looking out across the glass windows and into the vineyards. The sun beating down on you, warm air circulating through the restaurant and the sweet smell of the shrivelled grapes. All mixed together and it creates an experience like no other.
A bottle of the hotels very own wine helped wash down our meal and our first starter was exactly what we wanted to eat here in the South of France. Thinly sliced and very fresh octopus, topped with ripe tomatoes and a bean & potato salad which had a lovely mustard intensity to it. Fresh, simple and very Mediterranean.
I loved the freshness from our other starter too and it showed just how simplicity can sometimes be the best. A cold salad of tomatoes and fennel, mixed with a vibrant vinaigrette dressing and topped with a dollop of creamy whipped goats cheese. It also paired perfectly with a glass of the Domaine’s rose wine.
One thing I’ve learnt from my trip to Montpellier and South of France over the years, is that this part of France has some of the best duck in the world. If you love both duck breast and foie gras, then you’ll fall just in love with this as I did. Soft meaty texture and crisp fat, coupled with the flavour, richness and creaminess of foie gras. Here the duck was accompanied by a scoop of the finest (and most buttery) celeriac mash, braised carrots and a rich silky jus.
We finished up our meal with a gorgeous chocolate and praline choux eclair which was just as light and fluffy as I was hoping for. A scoop of sorbet on the side didn’t quite go with the eclair itself, but as a beautiful palate cleanser it was lovely. A flavour of lychee or grape, I believe.
I couldn’t quite bare for our lunch to be over, so I poured my final glass of wine from bottle and took it back to the bar overlooking the pool – soaking up the last of the afternoon sun. The food here at La Plage isn’t scattered in Michelin stars or crafted to look like tasteless plates of art, but instead it’s all about the ingredients and precision of cooking. If you’re in Montpellier and looking for a lunch in the sun to never forget then look no further. If you’re staying at Domaine de Verchant – then you’ll never need to leave.