When having friends over, we like to take them to the prison. The Bistro La Prison to be precise. This latest addition to Béziers now houses a fine restaurant and a three-star hotel. And with a 180-degree view over the Orb Valley, the exterior decor is as pretty as the inside. Especially when you’re lucky to witness a magnificent sunset. Foodwise, Chef Matthieu Bessiere and his team surprise the tastebuds with simple yet delicious creations.
The Bistro La Prison’s entrance is down one set of steps from Béziers’ cathedral (or up three sets of steps and a footbridge from the Pont Vieux). Once inside, the panoramic windows stand out and reveal perhaps the most beautiful view of Béziers. You can opt for a table on the terrace or comfortably sit inside. I love the way the interior design seems effortless but must have been well thought out. The wooden chairs remind me of my old school ones, while the wooden slats covering parts of the walls and ceiling add a modern touch. Same with the carpets (secondhand Persians?) that are spread all over the floor, giving a homely feeling to the sleeky tiled floor.
You don’t have to be a hotel guest to have a meal at the Bistro La Prison. But I do recommend making a reservation well in advance, as the restaurant is popular among locals and passers-by. The young and enthusiastic staff have found their footing in the new restaurant and outlined the menu to us. Chef Matthieu Bessiere proposes a rather extensive and monthly changing menu with six options per course. Ingredients mostly come from regional producers with a passion for sustainability. On weekday lunchtimes, the set menu is 26 euros for three courses, dinnertime and weekends are 36 euros.
Our friends, Chéri and I made up our minds, our order was taken, and the biodynamic bottle of wine arrived promptly. The boys chose the classic pâté terrine of oxtail, while we girls enjoyed seasonal sautéed pleurotes mushrooms on a French toast (‘pain perdu’ sounds so much better…). After these delicious appetizers, the men continued with savoury beet-filled tortellini bathing in an autumnal beef stew. The other half of the party meanwhile revelled in a comforting bowl of pearl barley, roasted carrots and an orange-based sauce. Our friends skipped dessert, Chéri and I obviously didn’t. We did share a few bites of our gianduja chocolate blend cake and roasted figs with a mulled wine coulis, though. This former prison sure serves better food than the old water and bread diet. Altogether, Bistro La Prison gave our friends a good taste of Béziers!