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Le Domaine d'Auriac at Carcassonne

Home > Paris > Escape the City | Fine Dining | Food and Wine | Historic Houses | Lunch
by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published November 24th 2017
Sublime food, attentive service - a memorable meal
When I was a young lad at school on returning from a break, we would be required to write an essay on the topic of 'What I Did On My Summer Holidays' while the teacher got on with marking.

This would usually result, after much chewing of pencil, in something like 'We went to the beach. It was fun. I had an ice cream. It was good'.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
The Domaine d'auriac (Courtesy of Domaine d'auriac)


Recently my wife and I stayed with friends in the south of France for the northern hemisphere summer as a much-delayed holiday and we went to a Michelin-starred restaurant. It was fun. I had magnificent food. It was good.

Both English teacher Miss Vigar, and I am sure you, gentle reader, demanded more detail, so let me tell you about Le Domaine d'Auriac. a one-Michelin star restaurant just outside the French walled Medieval city of Carcassonne.

The restaurant was the brainchild of the doyenne of the Famille Rigaudis, who at the age of sixty-nine, decided that she needed a further occupation so she opened a hotel and restaurant in the family's sixteenth-century chateau.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
The Domaine d'auriac (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


Her son, Bernard Rigaudis, loved the Languedoc where he worked as a chef and winemaker, creating the style the restaurant now enjoys. His daughter, Marie-Héléne Rigaudis-Calvet, is the current Maîtresse de Maison.

That was many years ago now, and the original building, with its sweeping Georgian grandeur lines, has been tastefully and sensitively expanded out the back to accommodate two restaurants - the formal Bernard Rigaudis and the more casual Le Bistrot d'Auriac.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Domaine d'auriac (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


We called in a happy and eager party of four on a bright and sunny day and chose to eat out on the enclosed verandah, overlooking the sweeping lawns shaded by huge trees into dappled light.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Domaine d'auriac (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


We were seated with ceremony and skill with a server each holding our chair. The menu was presented with a flourish, only the men's menus having prices on. I say menu, it was actually a collection of menus, each most carefully thought out.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Domaine d'auriac (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


For example, Tony chose the lobster menu, where each dish was a variation of the delicious crustacean, whereas the rest of us sort of mixed and matched from the remaining six or so menus.

As host, Tony got to choose the wine and a vast leather tome was wheeled out for him to make his selection. He did what I do on these occasions, decide the style of wine and ask for a suggestion. The sommelier, after all, knew the wines of the region far better than we did.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Tony examines the wine list (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


In the event, we ended with a delicious crisp Voiginer locally grown and made.

The meal, which took four hours in the finish, began with the flourish of a complimentary amuse-bouche of a morsel of smoked Scotch salmon on a bed of Lentilles du Puy (confusingly these French green lentils are actually slate grey, turning deep black when cooked). This came with a dab of aioli and a caramelised shallot and was exactly right and delicious.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
The amuse-bouche (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


The menu was mostly in English, but with a French accent - for example, my actual starter, was described on the menu as 'Green asparagus, smoked over beech wood Brook trout from "La fageolle" farm, blinis and candied lemon cream.' (29 Euros = $45)

The smoked trout was delicate, delicious and simply melted in the mouth, wound in long strips around the perfectly cooked asparagus.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Smoked trout (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


Each course came with a sort of palate cleanser, or accompanying snack that complemented and balanced each other to a nicety.

The fish course (Poissons & Crustacés) - one man's fish is another man's poisson - included such delicacies as 'Cuttlefishes from small fishing vessels grilled a la plancha, saffron flavoured fregola sarda with sweet pepper and chorizo, garden peas emulsion' (38 Euros = $59).

After the first course, for instance, we were given a small Asian selection of mouth-full bites, neat and tasty, each in a tasting spoon.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Lamb saddle and chop (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


My next ordered dish was the meat course - 'Pays d'Oc lamb saddle and chop, goat cheese with olives cannelloni, courgette variations déclinées, flavoured with bear garlic. (40 Euros = $60).

Each course was carefully designed to titillate and tease the palate, with exactly enough of the dish to satisfy without cloying or making it impossible to complete the full range of courses.

We ate, and ate, and drank and enjoyed our way through the not inconsiderable menu until arriving at the sweet course which for most of us was a sweet soufflé.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
THE soufflé (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


Much has been written about soufflés - the right way, the wrong way, the difficulty and so on, but I can now say, hand on heart, that I have eaten the very best souffle it's possible to make. This airy confection of sweet nothingness was floating on a bed of hot orangey-Cointreau poured in and eaten in silent worship.

This we followed with coffee and petit four taken at a table on the lawn to the sound of late afternoon birds rounding off a perfect meal.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
Coffee on the lawn (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


A few points to make about our lunch. Firstly, the price. It was not low. I was a guest, so I don't know exactly, but gauging by the prices I saw, there wouldn't have been much change from a thousand dollars for the four of us. While high, this does represent excellent value for money.

Domaine d'Auriac, Carcassone, Chef Deschamps, Michelin star, gourmet French food
The chocolate egg sweet (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)


Secondly, I'd like to say the service was impeccable - friendly and efficient, dedicated to giving us the best possible experience.

Finally, if you're ever near Carcassonne, do try Domaine d'Auriac - Very Highly Recommended Indeed.
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Why? Amazing food and service at this Michelin starred gem
When: See website
Phone: 33 4 68 25 72 22
Where: Route de Saint Hilaire, 11000 Carcassonne, France
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