April 3, 2005
After days filled with sightseeing and, on this trip, viewing potential property purchases, we returned each night for dinner. I think that Philippe and Bernadette Sans own the hotel just so Philippe will have a captive audience. Not that I’m complaining. Several of the guests with whom we spoke were return customers - the Hotel Residence is the perfect place to anchor investigations of the region. It’s off the tourist track, but it’s within an easy drive of anywhere and everywhere. Typically, Philippe offers three appetizers, three entrées, and three desserts, along with the typical French finish - a cheese plate. Each night, Philippe drops one of each and adds one of each so that guests always have something new to choose. Last year, dining was available for guests only. Now a menu is posted at the front door of the hotel, and there are nights when Philippe is clearly cooking for more walk-ins than guests. For a recent dinner, I started with an interesting combination - a small salad of mixed greens, topped with slices of Serrano ham and a tangy vinaigrette, accompanied on the same plate by a portion of crème brulee with a bit of house pate coating the bottom of the dish. Cathey’s salmon tartare, fashioned in one of the rings of which Philippe is so fond, was fresh, salmony, and sweet. For my entrée, I chose beef cooked in wine, shredded and topped with garlic mashed potatoes, accompanied by a Muscat sauce. Cathey’s entrée had several layers, tastes, and textures - bits of cuttlefish amongst pasta green (spinach) and pasta black (mushroom) atop a combination of diced fresh tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes with a "sauce" of local olive oil and fresh basil. There were crusty, chewy rolls for cleaning our plates, and we chose a carafe of local rose to drink. Scrumptious! For dessert, I had apricot sorbet over almond ice cream with fresh currants atop, thin slices of pear and apple beside, and a bit of syrupy sauce. And the bill for our room in the old main house, spacious and comfortable with the bath ensuite, and our meals combined came to just over $60 per person per night.
From journal The European Decision