When in Montpellier, try to have dinner at the Jardin des Sens. Or should I say, make a reservation at the Jardin des Sens and go to Montpellier. Either way, you’re in for a great night out when you have managed to get a table at this highly rated restaurant. The Pourcel twins, along with Olivier Château, have brought a vibrant addition to the dazzling Place de la Canourgue. With their Michelin-starred restaurant Jardin des Sens, they wanted to revive a gastronomic buzz in the heart of the town. And so, they did!
Top to toe
To surprise Chéri for our wedding anniversary, I booked a stay in the Hotel Richer de Belleval. As I knew that the well-known restaurant Jardin des Sens was part of the hotel, I also booked a table for two. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to have dinner here, though. But sometimes you have to treat yourself, and Chéri and I went for the full pampering experience. The venue’s location is a beautiful 17th century mansion, completely renovated from top to toe. The hotel part has been redone in a mix of eclectic contemporary design and art within the heritage framework. The restaurant, on the other hand, is more in line with its historic spaces.
Jardin des Sens has three vaulted dining rooms, each adorned with amazing ceiling paintings. These eye-catchers are the original 17th century frescoes, restored with great care. Chéri and I had to traverse the first room to go to the second room, where we had our dinner. We couldn’t stop looking up to admire this marvellous piece of art surrounded by plaster figures covered with gold leaf. The trompe l’oeil decoration in pastel tones of ‘our’ room was more discrete, but beautiful, nonetheless. I’m not often in a restaurant where I’m more interested in what’s happening above me than on the menu!
Sens & Saveurs
The Jardin des Sens menu was worth looking at as well, though. It consists of an ‘à la carte’ option or a choice between ten (190 euros) or fifteen (240 euros) courses. As I had surprised Chéri with the Coffret Sens & Saveurs voucher, the choice for ten courses was already made (380 euros for two persons, including non-alcoholic drinks and coffee). To amplify the sense of celebration, I had also included a wine-tasting menu with an apéritif and four glasses of wine to pair with our dishes (60 euros).
It’s easy to lose count when having a ten-course meal. One enchanting dish was presented after the other, and some courses included several dishes in one. The menu’s title was ‘Dialogue avec notre Méditerranée’, or ‘Dialogue with our Mediterranean’, and to our joy the focus was on fish and seafood. Anchovy, mussels, scallops, razor clams, lobster and bass fillet all passed for review, ingeniously incorporated into astonishing dishes. It started with a selection of artfully presented tidbits and appetizers and continued with five creatively drawn plates. The chef even came to everyone’s table personally to serve an additional surprise. Obviously, we wanted to leave room for the two desserts and ‘mignardises’ (sweets). Therefore, we skipped the extensive cheese platter (such a shame, as the choice was enormous!). It didn’t matter, though, as it was a night of marvels, from beginning to end.