Many of the Michel Bras restaurant reviews start how it’s complicated to get there. Aubrac region is one of the most difficult to access regions in France. Once you get to Rodez, by train (a journey by train from Paris can take up to ten hours) or by plane, you need to drive to Laguiolle town direction and then drive up to the Michel Bras restaurant/ hotel built in the dramatic scenery of Aubrac mountains. When I visited the restaurant at the end of this April, the mountains were still covered with a thick layer of snow and buried in white fog. White was all I could see through the large restaurant windows!
It’s Michel Bras who has elevated vegetables and foraged herbs to the same level as meat or fish in high-end gastronomy. The now retired chef (his son Sébastien has taken over the stoves) has influenced countless chefs all around the world.
The dinner or rather aperitif at the restaurant’s lounge started with a perfect tartelette aux cèpes and eggs’ custard served in their shells.
It’s at this very moment I realized that Michel Bras is quite a classic restaurant. No live shrimps like at Noma or avant-garde shapes like at Mugaritz or the now-closed El Bulli. Nonetheless, it’s kind of food I really enjoy. Creating something from the best ingredients while using cutting edge techniques is already perfection. Michel Bras and now his son’s signature dish is the famous le Gargouillou, a picturesque composition of dozens of herbs, flowers and vegetables.
Thanks to the perfect understanding of ingredients, each herb and vegetable tasted incredibly. This what I would call the real high-end dining. You don’t need Beluga caviar or truffles from Alba to impress. Herbs foraged from the fields surrounding your house will do. The Gargouillou was followed by turbot fried in vadouvan butter and served with Lézignan onion, bouquet anisé, lassi sauce.
It was the best turbot I’ve ever had. Michel Bras philosophy is a lot about the right techniques and understanding the ingredients one works with. Just watch the documentary “Inventing Cuisine” – the chef is not only an artist in love with his terroir but also a scientist. I’ve never been at Michel Bras when the master himself was cooking so I can’t tell the difference but I also loved the pan-fried foie gras with Marcillac strawberries sauce and their salad.
The tender chirory with truffles was delicious too…
I was not that crazy about the Aubrac beef served with young shoots (the meat was too raw and chewy), although the traditional aligot was a nice homage to the region.
And now we have approached the desserts. Did you know that it’s Michel Bras who invented biscuit au chocolat coulant , chocolate cake with liquid filling? This time it was a biscuit filled with warm mango pulp that was served.
The other desserts included white cheese cream with raisins and orange, and grapefruit; curd, milk skin, chocolate and sugar veil as well as tiny ice cream cones…
Was the dinner worth the trip? It was an honour to taste the legend but I think in order the legend continues it has to be reinvented. If you are in the region, it’s a great restaurant to dine at, but now as I know I wouldn’t travel there again from another country…