Overlooking the volcanic and granite high plateau of Aubrac in the Massif Central, Michel and Sébastien Bras’s restaurant juts out over the landscape like the prow of a sailing ship cutting through a green ocean. As we sit there sipping on a glass of white wine as an apéritif, everything is arranged that the guests are both embraced and impressed by the vast openness below the glass-encased lounge. The region is very important to the chefs. Their beef is from there; their cheeses, too. But more important, perhaps, are the gardens, fields and hedgerows immediately surrounding the kitchens, where father and son Bras find the kind of forgotten edible leaves that, in the right hands, turn everything into a festival for the senses.
I have had the privilege of eating in quite a few Michelin star restaurants. This one is one of the best, if not the best I have ever experienced, but perhaps not for the elaborate frills and fancy footwork this usually involves, but for bringing out tastebud-popping, tongue-tingling, eyelash-fluttering flavours in a “simple” side salad. So much so, I actually ordered another one. Every course, every detail was perfect – the bread was even personalised with our name on the crust and was charmingly knotted into a linen napkin. Dessert was followed by a trolley of fun in the form of tiny cone mignardises which one could top with either chocolate or lemon mousse, ice-cream or frozen nougat, and then covered with all sorts of sprinkles including roasted nuts, crushed meringue or coconut shavings.
Our perfect dinner was rounded off with a cup of coffee and a chaser in the company of the producer of the most excellent Guatemalan rum, Zacapa, whom we had met earlier that evening while visiting the kitchens between courses. But that is another story…
(photos borrowed from the restaurant’s website)