Michel Bras

Gargouillou de verduras
Michel Bras
Country: France
City: 12210 Laguiole
Address: Route de l’Aubrac
(+33) 0 565511820
Closed: November to March, Tuesday and Wednesday midday (except in July and August), Monday all day
Price: 100/140 €
Tasting menu:: 95, 152 €

In the early 80s, French cuisine was going through a grand period of effervescence. Girardet, Chapel, Maximin, Vergé, Robuchon, Senderens, Bocuse, Guérard and company lived, some more, some less, their moment of glory: Alain Ducasse perfected his neoclassical style in Juan-les-Pins, Pierre Gagnaire dedicated himself to pure experimentation in an old photography studio in St. Etienne, Marc Veyrat defined his personal style in Annecy… In this context, the fame of Michel Bras, a young, self-taught chef of Laguiole, a tiny village in the center of France, began to break out of its confines. Working in subtraction, Bras created a style that has changed the course of contemporary cuisine. Characterized by few distinct elements in a dish, use of local herbs picked only hours before, abolition of creams and sauces, clarity, minimalism, sensitivity, rigor, extreme respect for the seasonality of products and a strong foundation in the actual culinary roots. Regional cuisine? Much more than that, unless lobster and sea bass graze in the meadows of Aveyron! It’s a philosophic cuisine, intellectually influenced by the Aubrac, an untouched, wild region where direct contact with nature is inevitable. The brilliance and sincere passion of Michel Bras for all that is good, beautiful and authentic did the rest. The “Michel Bras style”, which has influenced dozens of chefs in recent years, was absorbed without reservation by his son Sébastien, co-figure of the kitchen who, under the guidance of his father, has assumed the difficult task of advancing his culinary philosophy. The results of the collaboration are promising: we begin with a silky canapé of boletus mushrooms, three delicious spoonfuls of red mullet with spinach, pepper with cereals and lamb sweetbreads with mustard sauce. Following, we succumbed to the temptation of ordering the classic gargouillou of vegetables. What happens here is a supernatural phenomenon: the transformation of a simple plate of boiled vegetables into a masterful work is an impossible deed without a heavy dose of magic. But magic it is, and to what extent! We continued with the fish belly of San Juan de Luz with a vinaigrette of black figs, sprouts, fresh cheese and anis leaves; less magical than the gargouillou but still faultless. We carried on with sweetbreads and filet of local lamb sautéed with dried fruits, coco beans, Guinean sorrel, orange peel powder and wild thyme; a wonderfully precise and succulent dish. We concluded with an extraordinary glazed eel of the Loire, poached with a very liquefied juice of sweet and slightly smoked aromas, accompanied by purple artichokes, a radish julienne and leaves of St. Mary’s thistle. Majestic. The time came for dessert, after a tasting of aligot, we couldn’t resist the chocolate coulant®. After the Peach Melba of Escoffier, the coulant is probably the most plagiarized dessert in the world. If Michel Bras received a euro for every unauthorized copy, today he would be a multi-millionaire on that alone. And, believe me, it lives up to its fame. When a restaurant is located in such a remote place as this, it’s understandable to ask if it truly is “worth the trip”. As far as we are concerned, it truly is.