This is a different kind of review. It is a recommendation based on personal experience of my first visit and confirmed after the second. But here what they offer is basically a tasting menu for €80, which isn’t within everyone’s budget. Full disclosure: I go way back with Romain Fornell and his family, so I am writing this with the intention of maintaining the highest standards of impartiality. I met Romain nearly 20 years ago, when he started working in the kitchen that now belongs to his father-in-law, Jean-François Ferrié, who worked for 15 years at La Maison du Languedoc Roussillon. Since then, Romain has had a brilliant career, he earned a Michelin star when he returned temporarily to France, and he opened, in what used to be the Ritz (now the Palace), this superb restaurant, Caelis.
Caelis is now in a second phase after closing for renovations, which cost Romain his Michelin star, but he’s since earned it back. In this new phase Romain has got a place that’s a bit flashier, but that is still firmly rooted in the kitchen with a focus on the food. And that you’ll take in if you have the privilege of sitting at the chef's table in the corner of a well-equipped, sleek kitchen with a breath of Catalan French air.
After a much-appreciated Kir Royal, the tasting kicked off with a few starters including an outstanding foie gras bon-bon. Next up was a Aquitaine Baerie caviar, with vichyssoise foam with rocket flower, accompanied by a delightful cone of crispy and tasty vegetables bursting with flavour. A rather accomplished plate of cod with mushroom tea and a crown of parmesan followed the trend of deliciously combining food from the sea with food from the land.
We were then served a colourful interpretation of autumn, with crispy turnip, beetroot, courgette and artichoke shavings, which topped a surprising cream of chestnut soup that didn’t overpower yet still had a wild, woodsy flavour. A sprinkling of white truffles made an appearance on almost all the dishes. A smoked tuna broth with spinach that hid a bit of extraordinary foie gras and langoustine cooked to perfection, with a touch of salmon caviar.
The feast ended with an indescribable squab that I invite you to try to better understand the chef, who was the youngest person to get a Michelin star. Naturally, we enjoyed the exquisite service and knowledgeable choice by the sommelier of a very elegant Montsant red.