[edited post, due to a rambling first attempt and overuse of the word rustic]
a village restaurant that had been recommended by many sources, including the incredibly stylish owners of our guesthouse, was Le Tracteur. set in the tiny village of Sanhilac and described as 'eating in your French grandmother's garden', i was expecting rustic, home-cooked food in a rural, slightly wild setting. Le Tracteur is neither of these.......
it is more rusti-chic or rusti-glam or chic-ly-rustic. the red vintage tractor under the sign outside, sets the theme for carefully placed farm implements and machinery....that look sculptural against the bare stone walls. combined with sand floors outside and rough wood tables and floors inside, it provides a refined farmyard backdrop.
the very pretty food looks beautiful against the grey, brown and black backdrop.
before i describe what we ate, it's worth explaining that our dinner was not as serene as it looks in the pics....A. and i only managed to eat one course together.....dessert. the other courses were a team effort of wrangling a 17 month old and trying to stop her from joining the fast paced staff in the open kitchen or tripping up the waitrons and ending up with a radish headpiece......although Limi is generally good in restaurants and she was brilliant for the rest of the trip....on this particular night.....she did not want to sit still. must have been the fresh mountain air.
we started with vibrantly flavoursome guacamole (i was expecting a more French sounding name for the dish but A. assured me that it was presented as the Mexican dip)....delicious. it was followed by a Veloute D'Aubergine which wasn't what i expected (the consistency of aubergine 'gazpacho') and yet was amazingly tasty, the smoky aubergine incredibly fresh against the crunch of raw radish and pistachio. so good.....and luckily for us both cold dishes not ruined but taking Limi on a tour of the village to meet the local cats (obsessed).
the lamb main that we both went for was meltingly soft and again had a lovely contrast between the robust meatiness and tart apricot (wow, now i'm really getting into my restaurant review stride.)....but the main star was for us, the chocolate ganache. accompanied by tart berries is was pure gooey, chocolate heaven. (hmmm, not sure that i'll ever make it as a restaurant columnist....but that was our meal)
Le Tracteur is certainly not the rustic experience that i was expecting but i can assure you that it is worth travelling across countryside to find. it gathers an eclectic crowd and has a lovely buzz and on a warm Summer's evening the outside courtyard is a blissful place to be. it's wonderfully welcoming....which is more than i can say for the local cats.