I arrived a few minutes early to lunch the other day at Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes and knew I was in good shape by watching the table of businessmen across the room.
Before the food arrived, everyone was fidgety – they clearly didn’t know each other too well and spent time pulling their cell phones from those goofy belt-holster things to check messages instead of talking with one another.
Their wine showed up and the mood lifted, but the big change came with the first plate. A fortysomething guy with glasses and salt and pepper hair watched a neighbor’s plate arrive and his face sort of melted. Then he switched to a big, childlike grin.
The noise level picked up noticeably as the plates arrived. Everyone was smiling. Suddenly, everyone had something to say. The bridge between business and pleasure had been crossed and one of the men lifted a glass and offered a toast.
“Bon appétit, les amis!”
Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes is not for the slightly peckish – this is the cuisine of la France profonde, complete with hunting lodge décor, and built for that kind of appetite: a standard lunch might be a big lentil salad, a wonderful cassoulet, and a fantastic tarte tatin that comes (as it should) with its own bowl of crème fraiche.
The 30-euro menu (about $39) is more than you need at lunch (price included), but at dinner, it would just make you feel spoiled and happy.
Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes
106, Rue de la Folie Méricourt
75011 Paris, France
011 33 1 43 57 33 78
Globe travel correspondent Joe Ray writes his own blog, Eating The Motherland and contributes to the English language version of Simon Says! the French food and lifestyle blog run by French food critic Francois Simon.