You can’t stop progress, as a character in one of my favourite films, Muriel’s Wedding, was wont to say. He was right. Change is often a good thing, of course. However, sometimes it comes tinged with sadness.
That’s how I feel about the news that the best restaurant in Castillonnès, Les Remparts, has closed down.
It was the first place I ate in the Lot-et-Garonne village. As its name suggests, it was built into the city’s wall. With a stylish interior and a shaded terrace, it was the perfect place to eat, whatever the season.
Profiteroles filled with duck confit, caramelised onions and a nut purée was the house special – and it was delicious. Each year the restaurant also ran a competition to find the best local dessert – dubbed the P’tit Castillonnésien.
It has been obvious for a while that owner Dominique was struggling. After she and her partner split up, she reclassified the hotel as a chambres d’hôtes. Now she’s downgrading the restaurant to offering guests tables d’hôte.
“Profiteroles filled with duck confit, caramelised onions and a three-nut purée was the house special – and it was delicious”
Being on her own has meant she has had to continue to run the kitchen and also carry out the front-of-house tasks. I can only assume she wasn’t earning enough to employ a maître d’. Unfortunately, without one, the bookings fell off, making it harder and harder to be able to afford one.
We had been hoping to have our Christmas lunch at Les Remparts, but that won’t be possible. Luckily, Alex, a cordon bleu chef in the village, who cooked for us one night in August, has offered to step in and host instead. I know his food will be first rate.
Over lunch, I expect we will also discreetly raise a glass to Dominique – and to our very fond memories of Les Remparts.