It didn't start well. The four of us in the car were arguing about where exactly the restaurant was. We'd pulled up outside a huge wine factory and the signs for Bistrot d'Alex ran out, only to be replaced with dozens of others saying 'Vinipolis'.
I, because I am a Virgo and therefore always right, and because I'd looked it up on the internet moments before, insisted we were in the right place and to just park. The others didn't believe me. I was right, of course. This new restaurant is part of the wine factory and looks like the entrance to a small modern airport. Sliding doors usher you in, then you stop dead. The floors have a colossal section which is glass, so you can look down on hundreds of wine barrels many feet below. I'm not good at visual cliffs, so tiptoed round to firmer ground.
Photo pinched from Cwiosna CABANE - Merci.
We were at this new restaurant to celebrate the birthday of our friend Jackie Devereux . And what a find it is. If you can get past the place looking like the works canteen at IBM and concentrate on the food and the price of said food, you'll find it excellent. In a huge, lofty and airy space, with spacious seating for about sixty or so people, jolly waiting staff serve excellent food of the region. I had six of the freshest oysters from the Bassin de Thau served on a bed of ice, guinea fowl with the creamiest risotto I've ever tasted followed by a dish of strawberries prepared five different ways. Everything was beautifully, cleanly presented and perfectly cooked. For 18.50 euros. That's £14.36 at today's rotten exchange rate. The wines are largely from the cave co-operative which is part of this Vinipolis complex and are good and well priced.
We're on a winner here for at least another six months if they don't do something about the signage. No-one will be able to find it, so we should be fine for a table. Yesterday was Sunday, however, and the restaurant was full to the gunnels with savvy french locals all keeping quiet about the place. If you're coming to stay at Le Couvent, Roujan I'd advise you to ask us to book you a table well in advance. They could be making funky new signs as I write.