If there was one thing I learnt from my time in Montpellier, it’s that you should expect to come back at least a stone heavier. While of course the French love their food, Montpellier seems to have an appetite and a thirst which is slightly more gluttonous than other cities I’ve visited in this country. Crepes, steak, cassoulets and so much fresh seafood. It’s a mixture of classic French cooking and Mediterranean influences – with an added knob of butter to everything.
One place which gives all of that is the gorgeous Verchant Restaurant at Domaine de Verchant. This hotel restaurant is located just 10 minutes from the city centre and offers exquisite fine dining and an al fresco terrace for the Summer months. Head chef is Damien Cousseau and he certainly know his way around the kitchen. With the last of the afternoon warmth, we sat outside with our snacks to start us on our journey.
Canapés came in the form of cheese choux puff bites which were so light and fluffy. As well as some crispy heavenly balls. One filled with a mouth-watering liquid mushroom centre and another with flaky succulent crab meat, if my memory serves me well. We washed them both down with a glass of chilled Ruinart Champagne.
Dining from the “surprise menu” we really had no idea what was about to arrive at our table. Freshly baked bread was served in abundance and all very fluffy and warm. The first dish from the kitchen was this smooth eggy mixture which had been placed back into its egg-shell. Rich, velvety and a lovely tantalising start to our menu. Especially when paired with a glass of the properties very own wine.
One of my absolute favourite dishes was this beautifully presented dish of mushrooms and foie gras. Layers of earthy mushrooms and decadent foie gras made for a very generously sized and rather opulent dish. It offered all of my favourite things about France in a mouthful and left such a lasting impression on our evening.
Main course was a mixture of Mediterranean flavours and classic French buttery goodness. I can’t quite recall the fish we had given this being a surprise experience with no actual menu (so was relying on my terrible memory), but I can comment on just how perfectly it was cooked. The flesh was flaky & juicy, while the skin crisp but still shimmering from its pan glaze. The potatoes were fluffy and its sauce incredibly satisfying. A solid offering from the Kitchen and one I’d happily eat all over again.
Of course no meal can be complete in France without enjoying a cheese trolley and this was by far the best of my 2017. A gargantuan offering from all corners of the country. Loire Valley, Burgundy, Normandy and the South of France. Every area of France was covered with classic examples and each was utterly divine and served at perfect room temperature. The home-made preserves and fruit bread were the perfect accompaniments.
Dessert was a spectacular showcase of flavours, acidity and textures of apple. Light aerated mousse, sorbet and slices – ripe apple covered every element of this dessert. A vanilla scented creme patisserie and a moist sponge lay waiting at the bottom, while a little caramel added a nice sugary and sweetness which brought everything together nicely.
We finished up on some excellent petit fours before retiring back to our room here at Domaine de Verchant. I’m so glad I got to sample the cooking of head chef Damien Cousseau and experience first hand for myself that not only is this a fabulous hotel restaurant, but a destination restaurant worth travelling for. Whether you’re staying at the hotel, in the city of Montpellier of further afield – a meal here will guarantee to take you on a gastronomic journey of France.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.