It always warms my heart to come across a restaurant like the Auberge de la Fontaine. Knowing that is is still possible to dine so well for so little money reminds me of how and why I fell in love with traditional French cooking in the first place.
It only adds to the experience that this charming country restaurant is located in the tiny town of Laas (pop: 131), a town which seems to consist mostly of a church, several speed bumps and this auberge (and of course the famous 14c fountain, really more of a communal well, from which the Auberge takes its name). On a rainy December weekday, the dining room was filled with a mix of workmen, families, groups of friends and older couples, packed into the small dining room and steaming up the windows.
The Auberge de la Fontaine has an a la carte menu but the main attraction at lunch is its menu du jour, at the very wallet friendly price of 14 euros. The menu du jour on the day we ate started with garbure, the near mythic cabbage and white beans soup of southwest France. Next came a salad of winter lettuces topped with a warm lardon vinaigrette and garlic croutons. The main course was an grilled beef faux filet prepared “a la Bordelaise”, meaning that while sizzling hot from the grill the sirloin is topped with a mixture of diced shallots and parsley that slowly softens as it mixes with the juices of the steak. And for dessert, an apple and prune clafouti with Armagnac-scented whipped cream. All wonderfully prepared without pretense or a second thought…14 euros!
This is the sort of eating I love, dining that is not an “experience” but an ever day part of French life. Good friends gathered around a good table. Reservations are definitely needed for lunch; even though Laas is tiny, la Fontaine’s reputation is well established and guests don’t mind driving a bit to enjoy it
Auberge de la Fontaine
Address: Place de l’Église, 64390 Laas
Tel: 05 59 38 20 20
Reservations: for lunch, reserve or you won’t get a table