In my original post on Ax-les-thermes, I mentioned the springs, the ski slopes, and the casino. But another good reason to spend an afternoon there is the bib gourmand restaurant and hotel, Le Chalet.
Le Chalet has a couple different menus. There is the weekday lunch one, which is a deal at 22€ for 3 courses; a 2-course choice from the menu for 26€; a 3-course choice for 30€; 4-courses for 36€; a 4-course menu "decouverte" for 45€; and a 5-course menu "suprise" for 48€. These are all available on their website, http://www.le-chalet.fr/. I wasn't feeling ready to take on three courses and decided to get a main dish and dessert, while R went for all three.
As soon as we were seated we were brought a platter of breadsticks, pastry puffs, and dip. Unfortunately the pastries were gone by the time I remembered to snap a photo (proof of their success, I suppose):
Afterwards we had the amuse-bouche, an emulsion of potatoes and cepes. Frothy and delicious!
R started with the pot-au-feu with beef, topped with a nice portion of foie gras.
I had a pot of earl grey while R made his way through his entree. I know the waiter looked at me funny when I requested it, and what blasphemy to have a pot of tea in the middle of lunch, but I had a cold!
Afterwards we both ordered the lamb. Here we had our disagreements. I preferred the small pot on the left, the lamb confit. Very tender and tasty. R preferred the lamb in the middle, because it was a better cut of meat and not as fatty. But neither of us liked the side dish of beans, which was terribly bland.
For dessert I had the Ile Flottantes with lemon sorbet and a citrus soup. Perfect for someone with a cold! But an odd choice for a winter menu; it seems like this type of light dessert would be much more refreshing -- and appreciated -- in the summer. It looked so beautiful, topped with the dried slice of orange:
R had the Cafe Liegeois, which was layers of brownie, coffee ice cream and creme chantilly. A very elegant sundae indeed.
After our desserts were cleared, R had cognac (he insists that I mention it was a Remy Martin XO -- his favorite) and we were brought this final platter of sweets. So cute! From top to bottom: mini-caneles, pate de fruit (either blueberry or blackberry, I can't remember), and caramel lollipops.
To accompany our meals R had ordered an excellent bottle of Madeira red wine, and we had some local sparkling water -- the only kind they serve. The total came to about 100€, and we were very pleased with the food, the presentation, the service, and especially our nice window table with a view of the hot stream below. The only low point might be the limited menu -- only 3 each of entrees, plats, and desserts, but the other gourmet menus might make up for that.
4 Avenue de Turrel