Eating the Alphabet: F is for French
F is for… France
For F we decided that it was only right to try the cuisine of a nation that has a reputation for producing some of the finest food in the world, France.
This meant going to Cheltenham as there are no French restaurants in Gloucester (well not that I'm aware of, but tell me if I'm wrong!).
However, the restaurant we picked, Armagnac, does belong to a Gloucester legend, Olivier Azam.
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Being a trendy French restaurant in Montpellier, we were a bit worried about the impact that this choice would have on our bank balance but happily Armagnac offers a midweek early dinner deal which we opted for.
This deal is fantastic – for £12.50 you can pick a starter and main course from a reduced but nonetheless varied menu. The offer is available between 6pm to 7.30pm, Tuesday to Thursday, which offers another massive advantage – you can find a parking space right outside!
Armagnac is a relatively intimate place on two floors. The ground floor is all bourgeois grandeur while downstairs in the basement they have authentically recreated a Parisian wine cellar.
The £12.50 menu offered about half a dozen options for each course with a couple of additional 'black board' specials. There were enough meat, fish and vegetarian choices to cater for most diners.
To start, I opted for a goat's cheese, pear, rocket and walnut salad, glazed with balsamic vinegar. This dish got the meal off to a fine start – it was so beautifully presented I almost didn't want to tuck in – however, I was glad I did!
Wills opted for the soup of the day which was chicken with celeriac and truffle oil. I tried a bit of this too and it was divine.
For my main, I picked the minute steak which came with grilled cherry tomatoes and was served on a bed of toasted brioche, Dijon mustard and onions.
Wills chose pan fried chicken breast with roasted new potatoes, Vichy carrots and bois Boudran sauce.
Dessert could have been bought in addition to the two-course deal but we decided to call it a night. However, it's worth adding that the drinks and extras that we did have were all reasonably priced (£3 for a bottle of beer, £2.50 for olives).
In terms of the early dinner menu, this may come at a very ordinary price but the food is definitely extraordinary.