To find this restaurant, you can use your sat nav or even a map (remember those?) and you will weave your way back and forth through countless Monbazillac vineyards. Or, you can look up for the highest point on the hill, spot the water tower and head for that. Because this place is literally at the highest possible point you can reach on the hills south of Bergerac. Never mind the nondescript exterior, once you are installed at your table by Bruno, the maître d’hôtel, and his friendly équipe, you will be wowed by the sublime view over the vineyards to the city of Bergerac where you can see the spire of the église Notre Dame rising above the roof-tops. As our evening progressed we watched the panorama change from dusky golden light on the vines to the distant twinkling lights of the city as night fell.
Here at the Tours des Vents, Damien Fagette is newly installed as chef, following an apprenticeship with Marie Rougié Salvat who earned the restaurant its Michelin star, one of only 16 starred female chefs (out of 600 restaurants).
The entrées were a sign of good things to come. Pan-cooked foie gras de canard with a marmalade of Garriguette strawberries and rhubarb, fine wafers and tuiles of bread and a balsamic reduction was a rich and unctuous opener, while the roast langoustines on a bed of creamy petit pois– with little bite-size jellies of apple and gin and bergamot foam– was all lightness and intriguing flavours.
For the plats, a monkfish stuffed with chorizo and served with piment d’Espelette sauce, sounded slightly mis-matched, but with a side of roast baby onion and asparagus it turned out to be an inspired creation. Cooked to perfection, very clever indeed. Fillet of veal with a cashew nut “voile”, rice croustillant, pancetta and jus of liquorice was beautifully cooked; though it must be said there are times when one longs for a larger serving of vegetables or carbohydrates to balance the earthy meaty flavours. But that would be nit-picking.
Desserts here offer a pleasing mix of classics such as a soufflé with Grand Marnier or a Gariguette strawberry tartelette with lemon cream, to more elaborate creations like the cannelloni of pear, rum caramel mousse, ginger jellies and hot chocolate sauce – a Michelin star version of Poire Belle Hélène, or the utterly yummy chocolate mango sphere served with vanilla crème brûlée and mango sorbet.
To accompany these gastronomic indulgences, ask the charming sommelier, Laura, to guide you in your choice of wine. There are some Bergerac and Gascon wines that will surprise and delight you.
This is a foodie destination at the top of its game. Just take care on the road home – a least it’s all downhill.
La Tour des Vents, Moulin de Malfourat, 24240 Monbazillac. Tel: +33 (0)5 53 58 30 10. There’s a lunch menu for 29 euros; other menus include the menu gourmand at 44 euros. The restaurant is closed on Sunday evening, Monday and Tuesday for lunch.