When you keep your ears and eyes open, you can find unique restaurants even in tourist places like Carcassonne’s citadel. I put L’Escargot on my wishlist after passing it during one of my visits to Carcassonne. And when Mariëlle and Rob from Domaine en Birbès recommended the same restaurant, it was time to book a table. Finally, Chéri and I could have a taste of their homemade tapas.
The citadel of Carcassonne is in the top ten of the most visited monuments of France, with millions of visitors every year. Chéri and I decided to have lunch just before the summer madness began. So, we went at the end of June, when the narrow streets were still just pleasantly busy. It helped that we knew where we were going for lunch. L’Escargot wasn’t hard to find, being in the heart of the citadel near the Château Comtal. At least, that’s what I thought until Chéri and I were asked to follow the waiter to the second restaurant. The waiter saw my puzzled look but reassured me that it was the same food, only served in a little garden- Le Jardin de L’Escargot.
After a minute’s walk, Chéri and I were cosily settled on the shaded terrace. Besides a wide choice of tapas, L’Escargot also offers two three-course menus (18.50 euros and 28.50 euros). Chéri saw what he liked in the cheapest one. He started with a roughly chopped gazpacho as ‘l’entrée du jour’. I preferred a tapas-style lunch and began with an easy tomato bread. These were perhaps not the most exciting options, but both starters were flavourful and ideal for the warm weather.
The following dishes didn’t photograph well, but I can assure you they were tasty. Chéri’s beef skewer came with roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, and herb mayonnaise. I limited myself to three tapas. The grilled chorizo came with a finger-licking homemade ketchup. The summery ratatouille had a crust of parmasan. And the third was a grilled Saint-Marcellin cheese with a couple of fresh green apple slices. Chéri’s menu had our new favourite dessert on it: pain perdu, literally translated as lost bread. If it’s well prepared, you will get big slices of brioche, toasted in butter and drizzled with a salted caramel sauce. L’Escargot’s bread was a bit more compact but delicious nonetheless. And luckily, I had some with my café gourmand, together with a strawberry soup and a pineapple carpaccio. Next time we’re in Carcassonne, we know where to go!