I’ve been spoiled since living in Bordeaux by the occasional weekend road trip out to Angouleme to spend time with my French beau’s French mother, who happens to be an excellent home cook and a very warm, inviting and kind individual in general. Her green thumb is quite evident, with all kinds of flowers, ferns, trees and bushes flourishing happily in her garden. She grows her own cherry tomatoes and fruit, many of which go into a colorful array of homemade jams that she sends home with us each time we visit. The produce that she doesn’t cultivate herself she harvests herself from nearby farm-markets. Everything is organic, healthy and full of flavor. Her blanquette de veau and lapin a la moutarde make me particularly weak at the knees, although the tartiflette she made last weekend and light summer salads with bulgur and shrimp are also among my favorites. Separated by an ocean from my own mother’s kitchen and having spent so much time so far away from her cooking, it feels nice to to feel at home closer to home and once again eat mom-food made with experience and love. Anyway…
Some weeks ago she visited us in Bordeaux and we decided to go out for lunch. (She did, however, bring over a freshly made quiche, like 4 baguettes and several jars of jam, for good measure). After looking through a few brunch options, I chose Kitchen Garden, a restaurant specializing in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. The place itself is quite charming, with a small terrace outside and an eco-design interior, complete with white brick walls, gorgeous tiled floors, vintage botanical posters and refurbished wooden finishes. Fresh green potted plants all over… that kind of thing. On weekend mornings, they offer a set brunch menu, which consists of a fresh juice, a sweet dish and a rather large plate of treats that would work separately as tapas, but also go great together.
It started with a freshly-pressed watermelon juice, a slightly frothy and naturally sweet beverage, seasoned with a mint leaf lain over the top. Simple and thirst-quenching after a cup of coffee.
Next came pancakes with a choice of syrup of chocolate sauce (I chose syrup). These were fluffy and porous, allowing the syrup to soak in and sweeten them from the inside and out. Over the top were sprinkled some crunchy toasted walnuts, pieces of peach, a ball of melon, blueberries, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and coconut flakes. A delicious dish, busy with flavors and textures, but light enough to be the first course of a two-course brunch menu.
And then came this beautifully colorful plate (or maybe “platter” is more accurate) of vegetarian goodies. A small bowl of yogurt was topped with oats, chia seeds, goji berries, peach slices and pomegranate seeds. The seeds had been in there long enough to develop that gelatinous outer layer, offering an extra creaminess to each bite. Next to that was a slice of crunchy, warm toast with a generous portion of ripe avocado smeared on, decorated with white sesame seeds, fresh chives and more pomegranate seeds. Then some delicately seasoned quinoa with rounds of baked eggplant and zucchini spiced up with a touch of curry. There was also a fresh salad of mixed greens, with bits of carrot, apple and onion running through, as well as a thin slice of watermelon beet for a crunch and another splash of color. In the center, a little boost of protein in the form of a fluffy scrambled egg, topped with sun-dried tomatoes. (Sautéed tofu was also available as a vegan option).
Healthy and light, but quite substantial, this meal kept us going for the rest of the day, as we continued to explore Bordeaux. For those seeking colorful, brightly flavored vegan cuisine and a charming environment in which to enjoy it, Kitchen Garden is a solid option.