Auberge de Reals, Cessenon sur Orb - Restaurant Review

One of the pleasures of living in this part of the world is discovering new places to enjoy well-prepared, reasonably priced meals in pleasant surroundings with congenial hosts. Auberge de Reals typifies that pleasure. The restaurant is located near a picturesque bridge over the Orb River off the main road between Cazouls-les-Beziers and Cessenon sur Orb. The view from the terrace must be quite nice in summer but we came in late January and so had to ‘settle’ for the main dining room with its crackling fire, stone walls, wooden beams, and tile floors. Be aware, in winter the Auberge is closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We joined a healthy Thursday lunch crowd, very congenial, many of whom seemed to be local regulars.

Service was attentive without being intrusive, pleasant without being over familiar. Given the nearly full house, our orders arrived surprisingly briskly, not hurried but not as leisurely as some restaurants in the region.

We ordered from the daily formula. Our salads came with a chunk of buttery fresh bread topped with a slice of quality goat cheese broiled just right. Simple greens, small wedges of tomato, slices of mushroom, and a mustardy cream sauce. Cathey ordered the fish casserole, chunks of white-fleshed fish (cod?) in a creamy sauce with carrots and with a lightly breaded crust. Tasty and a proper portion. Her side of rice was delicately flavored, not the typically bland side carb. I had the andouillette, a funky trash-meat sausage grilled properly and accompanied by a mound of crisp fries and another little taste of dressed greens. For dessert, Cathey had a flan-like citrus cream chock full of orange zest and I had the floating island topped with shaved, roasted almonds. Fitting endings.

With a demi of rosé (presented in a bucket of ice) and coffee for me, our total bill came to 33 euros. That’s 12,50 each for the three-course formula plus wine and coffee. More than reasonable. We’ll bring friends. Often.

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This sounds like a good place. Too far from me here in Burgundy though.
We have an excellent restaurant in our village Restaurant du Midi, which also serves an excellent lunch for 13.50.
The last time we went I had the terrine maison, braised shoulder of lamb, vegetables and couscous, then cheese
and dessert.
A large pot of Cotes du Rhone is 6 euros.
We also have a couple of very good restaurants nearby,
one where you can spend what you choose and the standard is always excellent and the other newly opened by Brits who do a personal take on fish and chips.

I can’t speak to how it works in the UK, but French restaurants in general have it all over those in the US. The ingredients are usually fresh and local. There’s no rush to move people in and out. They’re not top-heavy with staff - just enough to keep a leisurely pace going. House wines are decent and inexpensive. And the chefs are just skilled enough to provide a fresh take on standard fare. I think that’s why the restaurant reviews are the most popular page on my blog.

Ira, I live in France in Burgundy, the home of French gastronomy and I used to cook professionally in UK. The reason that restaurants are not so “overburdened” with staff is that the cost of employing staff is extremely high and restrictive laws on hiring and firing make it risky for small businesses to take on new people.
A new requirement has just been passed which requires restaurants to tell their customers if they make the majority of their menu in house. This is because so many establishments were buying boil in bag or frozen dishes.

I’m certain that the bit about staffing is true in cities. But out here in the hinterlands, the restaurants that we visit and that I review are often family affairs. One of my favorite restaurants is staffed entirely by three sisters. Another by husband, wife, and daughter. When you are in a relatively intimate space, when you only encourage one sitting per meal, and if most of your diners are regulars who order the formula, there’s no need for extra hands in the kitchen or at table side. And as far as pre-prepared meals are concerned, my wife and I can usually tell the difference and I’m not afraid to say so in a review. But I’m glad that diners have a chance to be forewarned.

Ira, you pay exactly the same social charges whether or not you are in a city or the country. There are family restaurants that close in August(the high tourist season) because they have to take their holiday during school holidays because they have no other trusted staff to carry on.

Yep - I can echo what Jane says about restaurants in France serving up preprepared dishes. Brake Bros and Petit Forestier delivery vans are everywhere in my rural area. Regular restaurant menus tend to be pretty similar, veg almost non-existant, meat like leather, chips with everything, plates always cold, food tepid and bland, and service functional.

As does our butcher - husband, wife, and son. Gone for the month of August and closed. Isn’t it neat that they can do that and be into their third generation in the same location?

That’s why you need to read reviews from experienced foodies!

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That made me giggle! No - it’s not ‘neat’ - it’s lazy, but then they’re probably not at all interested in making a profit or serving customers during the peak holiday season. Most restaurant owners around here don’t have a commercial bone in their bodies. I’m rarely given a menu or asked if I’d like anything to drink at the same time as being shown to my table. Normally a long wait before there’s any customer focused action!

Still, I appreciate it’s their choice to just ‘tick-over’ for three generations…

Of the several family-run restaurants that we know and love… none close during the Summer but many do close for a couple of weeks during the worst winter months.

The remainder of the year they work hard to provide delicious, home-cooked food and often offer outside catering as well.

These restaurants range from 20 mins to several hours away from us…depending on our mood… no distance is too great, when a lovely meal is in the offing…:yum:

With an untried establishment, my rule of thumb is to check the menu carefully. An extensive or over-complicated menu in a small resto suggests that possibly/probably frozen and/or preprepared products will be used in some way. (no problem as such, but we prefer fresh). When in doubt, I ask the question…

Wherever… the menu de jour is a good test… it is what the Chef is recommending and, therefore, should be a good, well-balanced meal.

We love to discover new places, try the food, talk with the staff and, more often than not, I get to see the kitchen and talk with the Chef.

There are one or two resto’s we will not visit again… but these are in busy Tourist areas where the visitors seem to be happy with what they eat, but we know that it should be much better…:unamused:

Interesting. So it’s not enough to provide a comfortable living for yourself and your family? To have ample leisure? How very American of you. It’s one of the reasons that we left.

No - it’s not enough for me. I also enjoy a sense of achievement and being able to provide a level of service that exceeds expectations. I guess it’s about pride and being able to make a difference - for me and my family. Thankfully I’m Scottish :slight_smile:

Are you suggesting that you are an experienced foodie?

LOL - I thought that was a bit ‘odd’ as well! I’m 54 and, as you’d expect, had a few meals in my time all around the world! I guess it’s just that I’ve dumped my rose tinted glasses! :slight_smile:

Having written restaurant reviews and food columns professionally in the States for several years, receiving several hundred hits on each review in my blog, having accomplished multi-cultural cooks in the household, and never having had push back on any restaurant that I have featured on my blog since moving here, yes. I would call myself an experienced foodie. I get that Brits have opinions about the French. They’ve been swapping territory and semen for centuries. But I think that my glasses are clear and not tainted with preconceptions.