I don’t like writing negative reviews. My philosophy is: there are so many good restaurants in the world, why not focus on them? But my visit to Le Castelas, a goat farm/restaurant near Sivergues, in the Luberon region of Provence, was such a roller-coaster of emotion — first excitement, then disappointment — that I feel compelled to report to you about it, mes amis.
A working goat farm, hidden high in the Provençal hills, offering simple lunches of its own cheese and ham… Sounds like heaven, n’est-ce pas? I was so excited to eat here, I skipped (metaphorically) all the way up the narrow, windy roads to the village of Sivergues, where we parked our car, and then through the dusty 2km tramp to the farm itself.
At the farm, we were greeted by a herd of goats (photo top), and little else. Never mind, we settled ourselves amongst a few other diners, at a long picnic table. No menu appeared, and no server. But everyone seemed to be eating the same thing, so perhaps there was no menu. We waited.
These pigs kept us company.
Indeed the food did eventually appear. There was a giant salad, dressed in a garlicky vinaigrette, topped with herbed goat-cheese toasts.
Also, a board piled high with farm-produced raw ham, salty and deeply meaty. And a vast selection of house-made goat cheese, each in a different state of ripeness: chalkily young, firmly aged, covered in dried herbes de provence or crushed peppercorns. I liked the small pot of accompanying honey. In fact, I liked all the food — it seemed fresh, honest, and wholesome. But…
Next to us sat a young, northern European family — father, mother, two small children. They had neglected to make a reservation for lunch. Tant pis for them, as they soon discovered, when the farm refused to serve them any food.
Now, if the farm had been filled with customers, perhaps I could understand. But we were one of only four groups. And — doesn’t the farm produce the ham and cheese on location? Isn’t their storeroom stuffed full of legs of ham and wheels of goat cheese? To not serve this family simply because they lacked a reservation, seemed particularly mean-spirited.
This donkey also seemed hungry. I gave him a sugar cube.
In the end, however, the real shock was of the sticker variety. Our simple lunch (which we accompanied with tap water, no wine), came to 25€. Per person. I couldn’t believe my ears. We peeled off the Euro notes and reeled back to the car. Later, friends would tell us other bad stories about Le Castelas — like the time the owner pocketed 40€, saying he wasn’t “making change that evening.”
The farm, the animals, the fresh food, the view… it all seemed so charming. Too bad it wasn’t. Dine here at your own risk.
tel: 04 90 74 60 89