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Le Languedoc: Nantucket’s elegant French bistro

Quail with baby cucumbers
Quail with baby cucumbers

Elegant service and imaginative bistro food have always characterized Le Languedoc. This elegant white tablecloth restaurant continues to serve imaginative turns on classic bistro dishes. The entrees last night were just five: roast chicken, steak frites, quail, cod and lobster, but each was prepared imaginatively and the two we selected were excellent.

Sweetbreads with oranges

The evening started with a serving of warm, freshly baked bread that was as exceptional as the meal to follow, and it was served with real butter rather than a drippy plate of olive oil we’ve gotten nearly everywhere else.

The menu starts with nine different first course suggestions: lobster bisque, gazpacho, lettuce salad, beet tartar, cheese soufflé, foie gras terrine, braised littlenecks, veal sweetbreads and soft shell crab. This was a difficult decision, and the only way to make sure is to return several times and try several of them, although, of course, the menu changes frequently.

Our meal began with Torchon of Veal Sweetbreads, served with petite carrots, oranges and watercress ($17) and Roasted Beet Tartar with brioche, olives, mache and slices of hard cooked eggs. We were particularly taken with the combination of oranges and the warm sweetbreads which made an elegant first course. The beet tartar that night was made from pickled beets and a bit of pepper that surprised you on the finish. Coupled with the eggs and brioche, this was quite imaginative, too.

One of our main course selections was Misty Knolls Chicken Florentine, served with a succotash of summer vegetables, Bartlett Farms corn and zucchini fritters. This was quite an amazing dish: the chicken breast was stuffed with a mixture of chicken, spices and breading with a truly unique flavor, and hanging on the drumstick was a “zucchini fritter,” in this case an “onion ring” made of deep freid, breaded zucchini, with the entire half chicken perched on the vegetables and gravy.

Our other selection was also poultry, Broiled Cavendish Quail, served with Green Wheat and Yellow Tomato Tabbouleh and amazing little baby cucumbers, just slightly picked. Each cucumber was about the size of your little finger, some sliced lengthwise and some sliced radially. The overall effect was exceptional.

Of course desserts at Le Languedoc are de riguer and of course we each ordered one. Or two really. Both of the desserts we ordered were two different related desserts. One was a Duo of Classic Custards, with one being a classic Crème Brulee and the other a salted caramel almond budino. (A budino is an Italian custard.) Both were excellent, and it was fun to go back and forth between them.

The other dessert was a pair of lemon desserts: Lemon Souffle Cake and Lemon Lime Posset, served with raspberry coulis and Toasted Coconut Macadamia Pirourette. Both had delicate but different lemon flavors and it was again fun to try both alternately. The posset has evolved from a British lemny drink and the Pirourette a sort of lemon cake.

We came away thrilled with their imagination and can’t wait to try some more of their inventions.