Restaurant reviews | Bistro d'Alex, Florensac - a real find in an unlikely location

Restaurant reviews

Bistro d'Alex, Florensac - a real find in an unlikely location

On a return visit this week to Bistro d'Alex in Florensac I found it just as good as it was when the review below was written five years ago - and the set menu, now 18€ (£15.50) for two courses, only 3€ more expensive.

We have actually been a couple of times in the interim - and been unable to go even more often than that. It's always packed, especially at weekends, so it's essential to book.

The menu is a little longer and more ambitious with a number of dishes that attract a supplement including the inevitable foie gras and a lobster lasagne but we stuck to the basic menu: a nice riff on pissaladière with marinated sardines, a pokey potato salad with jarret de porc and plenty of mustard (obviously using up leftovers), roast pork belly and rosemary potatoes, onglet with a strange but rather delicious creamy pasta 'risotto' and a fig tart (below) which we shared.

Wines which come from the co-op which rents out the space are still a ridiculous 2€ a glass. Total damage 42€ for two. Still one of the best places to eat in this part of the Languedoc, I reckon.

My review of February 8th, 2008:

Le Bistro d’Alex sounds like a smart Parisien neighbourhood restaurant. In fact it’s anything but. It’s a clever and ambitious initiative by the cave co-operative at Florensac down on the Languedoc coast.

Co-operatives are the traditional way of selling wine in the area. Owned by the local growers they would vinify the grapes and sell wine in bulk. Derided for their poor quality wine they’ve been getting their act together over recent years bottling their wines instead of selling them in plastic ‘cubis’ and even producing the odd prestige cuve. But the Florensac co-op has gone one stage further and opened a restaurant next door to a very large showy tasting room and shop, a complex they’ve dubbed Vinipolis.

We turned up on spec and were nearly turned away until I reassured them that we would wait for a table. The place was heaving. A local winemaker who was hosting the tasting room for the morning offered to take us through a few bottles. (This was standard treatment - he had no idea I was a wine writer).

The wines we tasted - 5 whites - were simple and clean. Decent everyday quaffing but there’s a time and place for that. The sauvignon in particular, a ridiculous 3.99€ (£2.97/$5.78) a bottle was a real bargain.

The food though was something else. We each had six fabulously fresh oysters from the nearby Etang de Thau (a very good match with the Sauvignon) then I had a deliciously savoury hunk of veal that had been roasted on the rotisserie served with a creamy wild mushroom risotto. With it I drank a perfectly decent glass of Merlot that cost - wait for it - just 2€ (£1.49/$2.90) for a 175ml glass. My husband had an exemplary tuna a la plancha with fried aubergine chips. Our menus cost just 15€ (£11.18/$21.74) a head.

Although the space itself is quite utilitarian it’s been stylishly decorated and the tables are set with good quality glasses and cutlery.The eponymous ‘Alex’ - chef Alexandre Fabre - used to work for a one-starred restaurant called Léonce (now closed) in Florensac, which accounts for the quality of the cooking and presentation. If you’re in the area it’s a real find. But make sure you book ahead.

Le Bistrot d’Alex, 5 avenue des Vendanges, 34510 Florensac Tel: 04 67 77 03 05

(NB At the time of writing there were no signs to the restaurant in the town. If your sat nav lets you down follow the signs to the Cave Co-operative)

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Comments: 3 (Add)

Fiona Beckett on September 2 2013 at 17:49

There's a picture of the dessert we had on our latest visit above. And very good it was too!

Graham Tigg on September 2 2013 at 15:48

First went over 5 years ago and noted "While the dishes do rely heavily on advanced preparation and it seems the catering is on a canteen scale, this was a masterclass on what can be achieved."
Looks liked you skipped desserts which are a strong point.
It's a shame Florensac is basically a seriously dull terroir, but as you say simple clean quaffing wines and there's no danger of them interfering with the food.

Robin Hicks on August 31 2013 at 12:54

A great place and lovely not to have to pay the absurd mark-up on wine

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