New Years Day Lunch – La Tour des Vents

Since moving to France in 2019, it has become a New Years day tradition to lunch in one of the local restaurants. Attendees vary depending on who has “blown into the village” for the holidays, but I am proud that I am gradually becoming one of the hard-core.

For the second year in a row, because it is New Year and therefore special, we chose La Tour des Vents, a restaurant of local renown which overlooks the town of Bergerac from the vantage point of the hills around Monbazillac.  It is one of those places which, when mentioned, invokes “oooh nice” reactions.

The first surprise of the day was when our friend Jeremy emerged from the car, dressed in his Scottish new-year attire, complete with sgian dubh.

Kilt; sock-dagger; windy hill-top: what could possibly go wrong?

Denis, Jeremy & kilt

Entrée of Crispy Egg

The restaurant has a Michelin star, earned and retained through innovative and consistent application of Parisian-style flair using traditional Perigordian ingredients. Thanks has to go to one of my fellow diners for these insights!

We were 7, and were shown to our usual spot (we have been twice), an oval table set in a bay window, giving us wonderful views over the valley below. It is, in my opinion, the best position inside the restaurant, although during summer months the terrace is open for outdoor dining.

New Years Day lunch is a set 6 or 7 course menu, with the added option of wines chosen by the restaurant to accompany each course.  We settled in and were offered a seasonal aperitif cocktail and canapés (water for the drivers and non-drinkers).  Conversation flowed easily amongst us – us being me plus Andy, Jeremy, Denis & Catherine and two of their friends, David and Ann, who were visiting from Ireland.

And so to the menu: an amuse-bouche of crispy egg yolk with truffle, artichoke puree and parmesan milk; two Entrees – fois gras with wine-poached pear and walnuts (non-meat option of a potato risotto with truffle shavings) and then a luxurious lobster ravioli with saffron and a lobster shell bisque; two main courses of scallop with baked cauliflower floret, brussel sprouts and martini sauce, followed by melt-in-the mouth fillet of beef, with parsley-coated snail and potatoes dauphinoise; the non-meat option was the best langoustine I’ve ever had in a seafood sauce.  My mouth is watering again as I recall!

The savoury courses were followed by a generously loaded trolley of mysteriously named cheeses. When one of our number requested “un petit peu de chaque”, time stopped, the waiter froze, cheese knife held aloft, the table gasped; the order was swiftly revised to a more manageable selection of three. Notable was the pecorino, thinly veined with black truffle, its flavour having not-so-gently diffused throughout the whole cheese.

And so to dessert – a delicacy of soufflé, rice and vanilla ice-cream encased in a clear sugar dome, surrounded by a coconut foam. The effect was dramatic: a pure white visual delight – and it tasted every bit as good as it looked.

All White Dessert

As each dish was presented by the waiting staff, its ingredients were described in rapid French with only a cursory explanation in English, but only if this concession was deemed to be absolutely necessary. As we are in France this is, of course, quite as it should be.


It is difficult to pick favourites but, for me, the three highlights were the lobster ravioli, the langoustines and dessert. The food is not overwhelmingly rich, but subtly flavoured and using the very best-quality produce which has been well prepared and cooked. All delivered in an understated, professional manner.

Sublime Lobster Ravioli

One of the pleasures of lunching with other people who love food is that the conversation inevitably drifts to talk of ingredients, cookery methods, “that carpaccio of scallop we had with the mobazillac last year” etc., etc. It really is a delight to spend a long winter afternoon in such a way. We were the very last to leave the restaurant.

In summary, it was a wonderful continuation of our traditional start to the year – 4 hours of grazing on beautifully cooked food, well-chosen wines and easy conversation with friends, both old and new. I hope the group decides to return here next year, and that we bag our “usual table”.

Bonne Année à tous!

Contact:  La Tour des Vents

 Tel:   05 53 58 30 10