Life is too short to drink bad wine, as they say in France. However, sometimes it might be a bit difficult to choose which wine to go with your lunch or dinner. That’s why I like to eat at a wine bar, where they know their wines. One of my favourite ones is Le Chameau Ivre in Béziers. They stock thousands of bottles of wine (!), and they know how to pair each one with their great food.
Le Chameau Ivre, which means ‘the drunken camel’, lies in the heart of Béziers. Right on the inviting Place Jean Jaurès with its musical fountains. Chéri and I hadn’t been to Le Chameau Ivre in a while and were surprised to see the interior has had a sophisticated makeover. Robust concrete walls combined wonderfully with the use of wood for the furniture and wine racks. And once you enter the restaurant, it’s the open kitchen that immediately stands out. Here, chef Yohann Roussiere and his team cook up their aesthetic dishes, highly respecting sustainability, and the origin of the ingredients. As it was autumn, Chéri and I sat comfortably inside. Le Chameau Ivre works with a set formula of starter/main (29 euros), starter/main/cheese (32 euros), or starter/main/dessert (34 euros). Each course offers three choices, sometimes with a supplement of a couple of euros for certain dishes.
Of course, Le Chameau Ivre has an extensive separate wine menu. As Chéri and I are wine amateurs, we opted for the food and wine pairing menu of 56 euros. And because we were seated next to the cold meat cutter, we also ordered a platter of beef cured ham to go with our aperitif. I finally didn’t forget to take pictures of the wine as well as the food. Therefore, I can tell you that we had a glass of sparkling rosé called ‘Jour du Titeuf’ coming from a decapitated bottle. A great start! It was followed by a red tuna tartare for Chéri and pieces of raw mullet dory for myself. Chéri had a red pinot noir from Domaine des Gandines in the Bourgogne with it, and I had a glass of the 100% chenin ‘Clos de Midi’ from Arnaud Lambert near Saumur.
Ancient grape variety
Next, Chéri’s red mullet filets were perfectly paired with a red wine from Saint-Chinian: Ribeyrenc is an ancient Languedoc grape variety from Thiery Navarre. Meanwhile, I had an appetising and generous piece of red tuna, retained by angling. The same red wine as Chéri’s starter brought this dish to great heights. The last course also came with some divine wine. A delicate Cartagène from Mas Jullien accompanied Chéri’s classic Mont-Blanc of meringue and chestnut cream. And I had a naturally sweet wine from Les Vignerons de Maury to go with my spongy hazelnut cake with coffee ice cream. After this feast, we completely understood, again, why Le Chameau Ivre is such a popular place in Béziers. Therefore: we strongly consider booking a table before you go.