The Chateau du Port may be one of the smarter restaurants in the Hrault but it comes at a price. Admittedly the view over the port at the picturesque seaside village of Marseillan is gorgeous, the restaurant sophisticated and stylish and the service charming but the food is expensive for a restaurant that has no Michelin star. And it’s not that good.
The restaurant is one of a number run by the ubiquitous Pourcel brothers who have carved a niche for themselves as the Gordon Ramsays of the Languedoc, setting up sophisticated mid-priced (in theory) modern brasseries along the coast.
You have to give them credit for featuring local dishes - you can eat Languedoc favourites like rouille de seiche la Setoise (squid with a garlicky mayonnaise-style sauce) and stuffed mussels as well as simply served oysters though at 16€ a dozen this must be one of the more expensive places to eat them, given the oyster beds are a couple of kilometres down the road. And - less impressive - what is Wagyu beef from Chile doing on a southern French menu?
I had my oysters gratinated with a sauce based on the local Noilly Prat aperitif which I would guess was combined with crme fraiche and saffron, an interesting idea that wasn’t totally convincing (too much alcohol, not enough cream)My main course of grilled squid a la plancha was however totally misconceived with a sweet ‘vinaigrette’ based on lemon confit which simply didn’t go with either the squid or the accompanying grilled Mediterranean vegetables (aubergine, courgette and red pepper). If they’d chosen fennel they could have pulled it off. And given the amount of squid (not much more than a starter-size portion) it was expensive at 24€
My husband fared better with his main course of veal kidneys and tagliatelle even though that came with an unnecessarily sticky balsamic reduction but it was hard to see how the restaurant could justify charging 26€ for it (a reminder to always check the price of the ‘special’ before ordering it. It was the most expensive dish on the menu)
We passed on dessert and simply had a coffee (very good) which brought our bill including two glasses of Picpoul and a 50cl bottle of Sylva Plana rosé, one of the cheaper bottles on the list at 19€, to 116€ (£102). Had it been rather more modest I think we’d have forgiven the shortcomings in the cooking - it is a nice place - but I couldn’t help thinking that you could have eaten better in London or even my home town of Bristol for at least 15% less.
For those who want to eat at Marseillan there are a number of restaurants on the other side of the port where you’ll eat arguably less well but more generously and considerably more cheaply. Or try Le Glacier further back into the town.