Auberge de Chassignoles, Haute Loire
Finding that rural French auberge which espouses the Squidbeak principles – great produce, beautifully cooked and not overly mucked about with – is increasingly difficult.
But we’ve found a little bit of perfection on the edge of the Auvergne which ticks all our boxes – courtesy of an Englishman.
Peter Taylor, late of the River Station in Bristol, has taken over the chef/patron role at the Auberge de Chassignolles in Le Bourg, in the Haute Loire – remote, but a 30 min detour off the A75 if you’re heading South. He describes it as cuisine et vins du terroir, using great local ingredients, much produced by himself and friends.
It’s an eclectic, slightly crumbling auberge with a west facing terrace opposite the village church. Rooms are whitewashed and simple. The vibe is a clever mix of rural retreat and urban cool – table footy on the terrace, organic beer in the bar, scrubbed tables covered with brown paper and wild flowers in jam jars. The clientele includes locals and visitors.
But it’s the food which sings. We arrived on a Sunday to find the staff having late lunch on the terrace – confit duck, borlotti beans, piles of greens and salads. Join us they said, or help yourself to a drink.
We saved ourselves for the set five course dinner – perfectly ripe melon and Auvergne ham, salad and heritage tomatoes from their garden, rabbit a l’ Italien with polenta, fromage and gateau a l’orange. Humble ingredients treated with respect. Peter’s wine list is exceptional combining the best of regional France with star names – Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from NZ and award winning Billecarte Salmon champagne at less than you can buy retail in Britain.
All this for 25 euros, with rooms from 45 euros.
Last week he tweeted a picture of fromage de chevre made with milk from his own goats “I feel we’re getting better at this” he said. Can’t wait to go back.